I’m reading a book called The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz.
The book tells the story of Denis Avey, a British soldier captured by the Nazis in North Africa. Avey eventually wound up at a POW labour camp at IG Farben’s Buna-Werke plant near Auschwitz. At the plant, British POWs were forced to work alongside Jewish prisoners.
After watching the way Jewish prisoners were treated, Avey felt he needed to see for himself what was going on. On two separate nights he swapped clothes with a Jewish prisoner and smuggled himself into Auschwitz III.
It’s a compelling story. I’ve found myself reading it in the cracks of the day.
Avey also talks about his experience after the war. Unsurprisingly, he suffered extreme PTSD at a time when there was no support for returning servicemen. In Avey’s words, they were demobbed with a cheap suit and not even a thank you.
It took Denis Avey 60 years to tell anyone about his experiences, including his wife. Initially, nobody wanted to hear. Later, it became a protection mechanism to ward off recurring nightmares. When he did finally tell his story, Avey says it felt like the floodgates had opened.
While Avey’s story is an extreme example, I see echoes in many of my clients. An initial reluctance to talk, or to skirt over the story at speed. But later, a sense of liberation from having told someone. A growing sense that their story does indeed matter.
Your story is the one thing unique to you that nobody can ever copy. It is a mountain of gold underneath your feet. Plus, you don’t need to break into Auschwitz to have a story worth telling. Your story allows potential customers to walk in your shoes and gain insights without experiencing them first hand.
Extreme stories of daring and hardship do sell more books. But in many ways, Denis Avey’s story is likely less relatable to me than your story. I’ve never served in the armed forces. I have zero intention of doing so. It’s a fascinating read, and an important one. But you don’t need that level of drama to engage a reader and communicate wisdom and insight.
Often, you just need to get started.
Telling your own story is hard. You’re too close to it. For a variety of reasons you may have parts of it locked away. It’s tempting to assume your story isn’t enough. That nobody will be interested.
So let’s be clear: if you sell based on trust, your story will be of immense interest to somebody thinking of buying from you.
To get help telling your story have a read of the information here.