The Riddle and Reason of Telling Stories

Photo by  Jonas Geschke  on  Unsplash

Crafting a personal story reminds me a little of dream work, but easier.  Dreams are set in a coded language that can be hard to crack. 

But with stories, the code or reason we have chosen that story to tell, will, with sincere searching always be there for the finding. 

The internal journey, meaning making and reflection on what it means to be human, are the essential ingredients of a good personal story.

The story has lessons for us and either we know the lesson already and we want to share it (and deepen our connection to it), or we are not quite sure and it will be in the crafting and telling process that we discover why the story is calling us.

Stories that call to be told need time, thinking, patience, an audience and a desire to illuminate something of this human existence for the benefit of others (and ourselves).

Even a romping adventure of a story, an hilarious rolling in the aisles comedy story, or a tragic drama, for it to impact us, make an impression, nourish our souls for longer than the time it takes to tell the story, it needs to give an insight into the human condition, an internal journey, as well as the external journey.

Even the most ordinary external events can become an amazing and memorable story if there is reflective and meaningful internal journeying about the lesson of the moment

But a story that is a series of ‘.....and then .....   and then...    and then  …’  all on the external level, all possibly dramatic, adventurous and funny, is still, if we can’t get a sense of, feel into, the person who is experiencing it, just a series of events.   If we don't know what they are feeling and if they don’t make sense of the events from the distance of time in their own unique way, we are none the wiser about them or life, and we will struggle to remember the story, and the teller will not have made meaningful sense.

The definitely need to share the stuff that happens to us, just because they happened to us, this is how we process and our friends and families bear witness.  

But great story of a personal experience is a creative, sense making process that creates a story out of the clay of life.  There needs to be crafting and purpose, reflection and meaning making.

And it is this aspect that makes storytelling a leadership tool, because it develops the teller as well as the audience.  

It is this aspect which make story a bedrock practice for developing trust, cohesion, belonging and understanding in the workplace. 

If you are interested in how story works to humanise the workplace, how it creates reflective insightful leaders, builds community and collaboration, and strengthens purpose and values, check out StoryWorks next seminar on 25 July. Tickets here.