Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Power of Stories

We live a story. Every day a new page or chapter is written as life unfolds through surprise, design and circumstance. There is nothing more powerful than getting a point across or teaching as by narrative. Stories are as old as time itself and are an integral part of our lives. From early camp days when we’d sit by a roaring bonfire, share stories….personal anecdotes, horror stories or stories we created in broken telephone games, they all had a vital role to play in our lives.

I can teach models and concepts but there’s nothing as powerful as putting scenarios to those models, sharing real-life situations that illustrate their meaning. And there’s nothing more powerful than showing how people in real life react and grow because of a situation or experience they’ve lived through.

We share stories that bring tears, laughter, and bring forth our imagination as we create dreams around the possibilities those stories evoke.

There is no better way to communicate who you are to another person than by putting yourself into the context of a story they can relate to as well. A commonality is formed….a bond of sorts where both parties can place themselves into the same context, yet live and experience something totally different.

As the holidays approach, I bet we can all sit at the same table and yet have a different story to share. We see things differently based on who we are. Just as we can all sit in the same meeting, go through the same organizational change exercise and have a different focus…different learning experience even though we are all working towards achieving the same organizational goals. Once we recognise we’re all individual pieces of the puzzle and have so much to learn from those around us, only then will we be ready to truly hear their stories.

They don’t all start with “Once upon a time…” nor do they all end with “…and they live happily ever after”, however they are all a piece of the story of life we live every day. We can teach through our own story and relearn who we are through the process of telling it, as we see how other relate, question and grow as the picture unfolds.

What is your story? What is uniquely you? Did you take charge in writing it or let someone else choose its twists and turns?

Donna Karlin

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