Friday, September 14, 2012

tell me a story

There is power in story.  We all know it, and yet we often forget about it.  We become more and more concerned with data...more and more concerned with the bottom line...more and more concerned with reaching our goals...more and more concerned that we meet our numbers - and we forget the power of story.  Early in our lives we asked our parents to tell us another story...we were consumed with reading comics...we listened to Mr. Rogers tell us another story...we even had The Big Book of Bible Stories we pulled off the shelf on a regular basis.  Later on in life, we still find the need to revert to story...we re-read the great novels once again...we wait every week for the next episode of our favorite show...we turn on the radio every Saturday evening and listen to tales from Lake Wobegon...and we still thrill to hearing the Christmas story read from Luke chapter 2 (King James Version, please).  So why have we taken the use of STORY out of our work place?  Here are a few thoughts:

  • it is harder to calculate the ROI (return on investment) from story telling
  • story telling takes time
  • we have forgotten how to listen
  • accrediting institutions ask for quantitative assessment data
  • story telling makes us vulnerable
  • we tell ourselves we need to "get down to business"
  • we have forgotten how to tell stories
  • we spend too much time behind the computer and less time around the water cooler (or coffee pot)
  • we are too busy
  • we are too lazy
  • we are too...
Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to see the power of story in action:
  • young freshmen students telling me about their "coolest" moment in high school
  • reading about how story telling can ease the mind of disturbances (Robert Coles' The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination)
  • listening to Brene Brown give a TED talk about her research on how story telling helps people become more vulnerable 
  • being asked to share one of my stories with a colleague - and having him pray with me afterwards about that story
  • hearing stories from my faculty about how our vision is being lived out in the classrooms
So how can we further encourage story telling among our colleagues, friends and family?  One final list:
  • learn to ask questions that elicit stories from others (open ended, genuinely curious, asking people to tell you more, etc)
  • begin each meeting with a story time - connect it to the mission and vision of your organization
  • read more more good the books your were required to read in high school and young adult graphic novels
  • remind yourself to tell one story every day - don't force yourself on people, but see if you can find a willing ear to hear your story
  • get out from behind your desk and walk around, stopping in people's offices and ask them what's happening in their lives - then be quiet and listen
  • give yourself permission to put your feet up on your desk and enjoy the moment of listening to someone else's story
  • eat dinner with your spouse and family at the table rather than in front of the TV
  • believe that STORY has power - really believe it - and let others know you believe it
  • turn on your public radio station this coming Saturday afternoon and listen to Garrison Keillor tell stories from Lake Wobegon
Stories inspire...stories stoke the imagination...stories teach...stories heal...stories help people and organizations align...stories make people laugh...stories make people cry...stories increase faith...stories lift the spirit...stories are what make us human.  SO...what's your story?

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Stories are great and help us to meet people with where they're at. I also love hearing faith stories in chapel and how it applies to a person's life. Stories are a way of life . . .thanks for pointing it out with clarity.