Today, I’m going to draw out a history of my business as part of an accelerator program that I’m in with Entrepreneur’s Organization. I’ll sketch out a timeline of the business, with all the wonderful and terrible things that happened and when.

The first time I did an exercise like this was five years ago as part of 10,000 Small Businesses. What I noticed when I did it then was that it surfaced my, “story,” about the business.

We all tell stories about our lives. Why we are a certain way, why our circumstances are the way they are, and what it means.

When I drew out my original lifeline and surveyed my business events the first time, I noticed that I emphasized the trials and setbacks. My story wasn’t about what I achieved in the business, it was about surviving. It was about suffering losses and enduring.

In many ways, it was a victim’s story. It wasn’t something I ever articulated or thought, but it was there in how I saw my path through business, characterized by how the external environment impacted me.

When I realized this, it made me wonder how this worldview shaped my choices? Did I make more conservative choices or “play it safe” trying to navigate the next perceived setback?

In the end, it’s just a story. From the same series of events, I could tell a hero’s story where I overcame hard obstacles and became more and more competent. The setbacks were markers of trial and growth, because no hero’s journey is without challenge.

Our stories shape the way we experience the world and ourselves. If your story is negotiable, why not choose to see your experience from a vantage point that’s productive?