Storytelling at Work
August 09, 2020
FEEDING OTHERS

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The following is a guest post from the very soulful and talented Burrill Crohn

The COVID crisis has only increased (vastly) the disproportion between the privileged haves and the far larger population who are somewhere on the scale between hungry and starving (often to death).

While the crisis has seen more hoarder mentality in many, there are others -- individuals and organizations -- who have been able send massive amounts of food to those with little or none. And so can we all, in whatever capacity.

But there is another approach as well, borrowed from the long-time Buddhist loving/kindness meditation practice -- one that breathes in the suffering of others, whether a specific individual or all sentient beings, and on the outbreath sends love and compassion to one and all.

When eating, I do my own variation.

As I eat -- whether snack or meal -- I invite others, anywhere, to come and share in the taste, nourishment and sheer joy of this food. Sometimes it's a blanket, open invitation. Sometimes I focus on a group: prisoners in isolation, someone I read about in the news, or a homeless family I see on the street. Other times I send this energy out into the non-material world seeking specific others or just any and all who can tap into what I'm sending.

One morning, for instance, eating a hearty breakfast, I specifically focused on all the front line COVID emergency responders who might have left home without a nourishing breakfast, or maybe were feeling a mid-morning let down of glucose metabolism and needed a pick-up.

Sometimes I see this like Keith Haring graffiti, lines of energy flowing from me to others; sometimes it's like inviting strangers, as is almost a requirement in many cultures and religions, into my own home (or in this case, body) to share a meal. There are other variations, as well, but you don't need examples from me. As you develop your practice -- if you so choose -- you'll find plenty of your own.

Certainly, facing the horror of pandemic hunger, there are those who will say only action counts. But we also live in a world where we send good wishes to others, offer prayers in houses of worship and the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of more than a half a billion people, says, "Think peace".

So I say, "Think food." It can't hurt, it might even help.

-- Burrill Crohn

Photo: Ashkan Forouzani, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:20 AM | Comments (0)

August 08, 2020
FOOD FOR BEYOND THOUGHT: The Nourishing Power of Storytelling

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Years ago, in a faraway land, there lived an evil sorcerer who was in a bad mood most of the time. Plus, he smelled bad.

One day, in an especially cranky frame of mind, he decided to work his dark magic in a particularly nefarious way -- he cast a spell throughout the land that locked everybody's arms at the elbow.

The first few days of this massively uncomfortable condition wreaked havoc throughout the land, especially at meal time, because people could no longer feed themselves.

The only way anyone could get food in their mouths was to eat like a dog, an option that was not a popular one to this proud race of people. Indeed, mostly everyone chose to go hungry rather than eat this way.

That is, until the third day of this mass affliction when one particularly bright young girl came up with a brilliant solution.

Continue reading "FOOD FOR BEYOND THOUGHT: The Nourishing Power of Storytelling"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:53 AM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2020
You Tawkin' to Me?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2020
THE STORY UNFOLDS! Zoom Wisdom Circles in September

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"The shortest distance between two people is a story."

Knowing that storytelling is one of the most powerful ways for people to connect and share the very best of who they are, I've decided to launch a series of online Wisdom Circles in September. I've resisted "going virtual" with storytelling for months, attached to my concept that REAL storytelling requires that everyone is the same physical "around the fire" space. And while that is still my preference, the times they are a changing.

Instead of wearing our mask, we get a chance to take off our mask.

If you're interested, send me an email (mitch@ideachampions.com) and I will get back to you with details.

At this point, I'm thinking the ZOOM Wisdom Circles will happen once a week, for 60-90 minutes, and cost $15 per person. People can come to one or the entire series depending on available space (limit of 12 -- committed as I am to the coziness factor).

Here's what one person had to say about his experience of participating in a Wisdom Circle from 5,000 miles away:

"My first Wisdom Circle was a very personal, energetic, intimate experience. I enjoyed meaningful stories in a small group and received validation that we're all connected and can see the me in all of us. And I was 5,000 miles away in the middle of the Pacific Ocean! Instant connection without visual distraction on a cellular level." - Casey Holt

More info below:

What is a Wisdom Circle?
Testimonials
My 2018 book on storytelling
My 2015 book on storytelling
Who am I?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2020
The Pencil

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"To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand and Eternity in an hour." - William Blake

In six weeks, I will be turning 73, the same age Ray Charles, Federico Fellini, and Charles Darwin were when they left their mortal coil. Based on the most recent actuarial tables at my disposal, I have another 12.43 years to go. That will make me 85 when it's time to split the scene. Of course, the actuaries might be wrong (just ask their teenage kids). Today, for example, could be my last day. Or maybe I have 30 years left. I have no idea.

What I DO know is this: In the many years I've been alive, I have spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to communicate, in writing, the ESSENCE of things -- what it means to be a conscious, loving, evolving human being on planet Earth. Towards that end, I've written seven books, 4,500 blog posts, 750 poems, 350 speeches, 125 magazine articles, 25 songs, 500 power point shows, five book reviews, 150 unpublished journals and God knows how many love notes and letters.

Do I like what I've written? Some of it, yes. Have I received some positive feedback along the way? Yes, indeed. Have I truly communicated what my howling heart has hungered to express? Um... well... er... not really.

Enter, stage left, the sound of one hand clapping or, perhaps, a wolf, head tilted towards the sky.

This age old dilemma/paradox/contradiction -- the inability of our species to communicate the inexpressible -- was described, some years ago, in a single sentence by my favorite person in the whole world, Prem Rawat:

"It's like trying to describe the taste of a mango."

OK. I get it. Words don't cut it. While they may, on a good day, be the finger pointing at the moon, they are not the moon itself. Still, in my heart of hearts, I still believe it's possible for words -- the soul's hieroglyphics -- to evoke the feeling of moonlight, if not the lunar landscape itself -- love's luscious luminescence that... just... might... be enough to see by... on any given night... to reveal a field, off to one side, with just enough space for YOU to dance in. Or, if you don't feel like dancing, then at least have a chance to catch your breath.

And so, my friends of cyberspace and beyond, in the spirit of knowing I am mostly deaf, dumb, and blind to that which is calling me, I am doubling down during these crazy days of quarantine -- and promise, with absolutely no guarantees, to write a story, soon, about what I learned from a single pencil rolling off my desk, onto the floor, in the middle of a Prem Rawat Knowledge Session in India, ten years ago -- a time in my life when I was just beginning to learn how to serve without making such a big deal about it.

To be continued...

Photo: Jan Kahanek, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:44 AM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2020
NEW FROM PREM RAWAT: Once Upon This Time There Lives You

NEW from the master storyteller, Prem Rawat! ONE 2 ONE, a series of daily talks about the story of all our lives -- the real plot... the true telling of the tale... and YOU are the character.

Feel free to subscribe to his newly launched YouTube channel to stay up to date with the timeless.

Continue reading "NEW FROM PREM RAWAT: Once Upon This Time There Lives You"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:14 AM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2020
Why Tell Stories?

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In the last 60 seconds, here's what happened:

168 million emails were sent, 700,000 Google searches were launched, and 60 hours of YouTube videos were uploaded, not to mention all the spam, banner ads, phone calls, Facebook posts, tweets, texts, and telemarketing calls that found their way to your doorstep.

A whopping 90% of all data in the world has been generated in the past two years alone. Think about this: Before the dawn of civilization, approximately 5 exabytes of information had been created. Now, that much information is created every two days!

The common term for this head-spinning phenomenon is "information overload" -- the inability to absorb and process all of the information we are exposed to.

Continue reading "Why Tell Stories?"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:39 PM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2020
Billie Spyder's 666th Dream

Ladies and gentlemen! Give it up for Michael Lanning. Songs are basicially stories set to music and this is a really good one! Turn up the volume. Michael is wailing!

More about Michael

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:01 AM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2020
The Urge to Serve

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One of the outcomes, for me, from receiving the gift of Knowledge from Prem Rawat, in 1971, was the unexpected emergence of a deep desire to serve. The gift he had given me was so profound and so fulfilling that I soon began to experience a spontaneous upwelling of longing to "be of service" in some way. This impulse to serve was unstoppable. I was not "paying my dues." I was not trying to "do good deeds." I was not being hustled by someone to be a source of volunteer labor. What was moving me went way beyond that. Never in my life had I experienced such a deep aspiration to be of service -- to anyone... or anything.

Something at the core of my being wanted to make my best effort to "lend a hand", even if my skills were minimal and my hands were shaking.

Wanting, actually, is the wrong word to describe what I was feeling at the time. It was way more than wanting. It was primal -- rising from an archetypal realm within me that I didn't know existed -- kind of like what happens to the tides when the moon is full... and the wolves. I had no idea where this deep-seated longing to serve was originating from, but I trusted it and wanted to see where it lead...

To be continued...

Photo: Courtesy of TimelessToday
PremRawat.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:34 PM | Comments (1)

July 18, 2020
A Different Kind of Detox

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Walking four miles home today from my local shopping mall (wearing my mask in Australia), a random thought crossed my mind -- that I am, like the rest of us, in "detox" -- you know, that facility where people go to get off of whatever unhealthy substances they are addicted to. Methinks, all of us are coming face-mask to face-mask further in touch with whatever these substances are (most of them unsubstantial) .

Of course, it's different for each of us and I run the risk, in writing this, of being considered overly simplistic, but in the spirit of trying to dig a bit deeper to see what there is to learn when life serves up lemons, this may be worthy of reflection.

Our routines have been interrupted. So has our very human need for hugging and community and entertainment, sports, the dependability of "going to work", our neighborhood bar, our favorite cafe, and lots of other things we take for granted -- now no longer available to us. Most of them are gone or in a state of suspended animation and we can FEEL our dependencies shaken.

Tough love from the universe.

Continue reading "A Different Kind of Detox"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:04 AM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2020
The Many Faces of Love

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There are many forces at work, in our lives, that defy logic and the mind's ability to comprehend. These forces have been variably referred to, over the years, as serendipity, synchronicity, grace, lila, karma, God's play, maya, and the great mystery of life. All of us, in our own unique way, have had these experiences -- small, medium, and large -- unforgettable moments that cannot be explained.

The following story of mine, one that I have hesitated to write for the past 49 years, is infused with some of these moments for your inspiration and delight. My purpose in sharing it with you is not to call attention to myself or promote my particular point of view, but to focus your attention, however briefly, on the magic of life we sometimes forget, ruled as we are by the density of things on planet earth -- especially during these dark and difficult days of the Coronavirus.

Ready? Here goes:

Continue reading "The Many Faces of Love"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:14 AM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2020
The Meaning of Love

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NOTE: What follows is a wonderfully evocative story from the equally evocative and wonderful Burrill Crohn. Enjoy!

It's 1991, Budapest, Hungary. I'm in the Grand Ballroom of one of the city's majestic old hotels for an elegant reception to mark the beginning of that year's conference of The International Society of Shamanic Research. The room is crowded with people ranging from academics, in suits and gowns, to ornately costumed Siberian shamans. I'm there as the co-founder and co-director of a small non-profit that facilitates the recording and gathering of film and video of shamanic practices around the world.

Crowds this size tend to overwhelm me. I'm not a good mingler, so I'm staying off to one side when I notice a beautiful, much younger, blond woman seeming to wave at me. "This can't be", I think -- I wasn't so young, even then. She must be trying to get the attention of someone behind me.

Continue reading "The Meaning of Love"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2020
Barney and the Gatekeepers

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My father, a pharmacist by profession, retired to Florida at the age of 55. His retirement lasted three weeks. After a lifetime's worth of waking up each morning with a PURPOSE, now he had none. Golf didn't count. Nor did watering his lawn or reading People Magazine. In fact, nothing counted.

Without having something to DO that had meaning for him, my father was very much lost at sea. And so, he decided, one fine air-conditioned day, to begin importing exotic foreign cars. The business model was a simple one. Buy low. Sell high.

As his only son, I was impressed. Mercedes were not only way cooler than nose drops, there was a much bigger profit margin. Plus, who knows, it was always possible that one of them might trickle down to me one day.

My dad's foreign car venture lasted six months.

Continue reading "Barney and the Gatekeepers"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:05 PM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2020
DAVID AAKER on STORYTELLING

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Here's a great podcast from Guy Kawasaki's Remarkable People series of podcasts. Begins with a refreshing look at the power of storytelling to deliver a message -- then gets into lots of good stuff on branding. Well worth a listen.

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2020
When It's Time to Move On

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There is a moment in everyone's life when all the cards are on the table, all the chips, too -- the moment of truth when the entire universe is conspiring to call one's attention to the choice we have every single second of the day to let go of our past and move towards what is truly calling us, even if we have no idea where it will lead.

One such moment happened for me in 1969, during my first and only semester as a graduate student at Brown University's prestigious MFA Creative Writing Program.

Like most long-haired, sallow-cheeked, Vietnam-phobic seekers of truth whose depression-imprinted parents would have much preferred him to have chosen law, medicine, or teeth over poetry, I found myself, at the ripe old age of 22, majorly existentially challenged -- sleeping 12 hours a day, posting my newly minted poems on trees at midnight, and feverishly reading Rilke, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams just in case the conversation turned thusly with any number of my far more well-read poetry professors engaging me in literary conversations at any number of ultra hip parties that I kept getting invited to -- the kind of heady gatherings where Kurt Vonnegut and other traveling bards kept showing up, laugh lines around their eyes unable to mask a lifetime's worth of sadness, disappointment, and despair.

Continue reading "When It's Time to Move On"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:33 AM | Comments (2)

June 30, 2020
CONNECTING THE DOTS

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I remember, as a small child, playing a game called "Connect the Dots." In front of me was an activities book composed of sheets of paper with nothing on them but numbered dots. My task was a simple one -- to draw lines between the dots, connecting each dot sequentially. #1 would get connected to #2. #2 would get connected to #3 and so on until each of the dots were connected, resulting in the creation of some kind of picture -- a hat, a house, a boat, or whatever the book publisher had in mind.

Continue reading "CONNECTING THE DOTS"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:41 PM | Comments (1)

June 27, 2020
The Dying Art of Storytelling in the Classroom

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Learning by doing is a very important approach to any conscious teacher's approach to education. However, teachers who take too narrow view of this approach have a tendency to dismiss the value of storytelling in the classroom, assuming it is "too passive". Not a good idea. Here's an interesting perspective on this phenomenon.

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Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2020
The Dark Side of Storytelling

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Storytelling is like water. It can quench your thirst or it can drown you. Or maybe storytelling is like a knife. It can slice open an orange or it can poke your eye out. Simply put, storytelling is a two-sided coin. One side gives life, the other takes. One side is authentic, the other is counterfeit. And this is, precisely, where the plot thickens, because story, the most effective communication tool human beings have at their disposal, has been used in both ways since the beginning of time.

Yes, some people use it to heal, inspire, and enlighten. But others use it to deceive, control, and manipulate. Storytelling for the Revolution has been written for the first group, the group, I imagine, you identify with. But no how much you identify with the first group, there's always a chance you might, without knowing it, find your way, subconsciously, into the second group, especially during times of stress, fear, or anger.

Continue reading "The Dark Side of Storytelling"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:52 PM | Comments (1)

June 20, 2020
A Simple Way to Identify the Seeds of Your Own Stories

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No one knows, for sure, exactly how many species of fruit there are on planet Earth, but with 7,000 species of apples, alone, it's fair to say there are hundreds of thousands -- most of which you and I have never tasted. Inside of each of them is not only a sweetness, but a seed -- or many seeds -- nature's way of ensuring the proliferation of that particular form of nourishment. The seeds come in all shapes and sizes, but no matter what shape or size they may be, if you want to get to the seed, you will need to get past the rind -- or in some cases, the shell.

Continue reading "A Simple Way to Identify the Seeds of Your Own Stories"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:48 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2020
WOOF! WOOF! A Pet Portrait Message from the Other Side

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This just in from Chili, my beloved poochie for 11 years who crossed over to the other side a while ago.

"OK, I know this is a storytelling blog and I also know it is not necessarily 'appropriate' for me, as a canine, to be promoting the pet portrait services of Evelyne Pouget, but sometimes you just gotta get 'out of the box', right?

Anyway, as long as I have your attention, here's what I want to say: Evelyne is a fabulous artist who specializes, these days, in pet portraits, especially poochies. She is very connected to my species, brings out our spirit, and is very fairly priced. Plus she is a great person and speaks French, Italian, Spanish, and English.

Oh, I almost forgot, now that she has opened her new art studio in San Miguel, she is taking on pet portrait commissions. Interested? If so, email my old buddy, Mitchie Pie (mitch@ideachampions.com), who used to take me for long walks, tickled my belly, and tried to get me to laugh at his ridiculous jokes, when no one else in the house was interested. I'm a good boy, Yes, I am! And I know a good pet portrait painter when I see one.

Click the link below for some samples of Evelyne's work."

Continue reading "WOOF! WOOF! A Pet Portrait Message from the Other Side"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:25 PM | Comments (0)

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ABOUT THE BLOG

Storytelling at Work is a blog about the power of personal storytelling – why it matters and what you can do to more effectively communicate your stories – on or off the job. Inspired by the book of the same name, the blog features "moment of truth" stories by the author, Mitch Ditkoff, plus inspired rants, quotes, and guest submissions by readers.

Order the book:

Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
FAQ
Do you want to know more about the book before buying it? Click here for Mitch's response to frequently asked questions about Storytelling at Work – the perfect book for people who think they have no time to read.
The Workshop
Storytelling is an "unconscious competency" – an ability we all have that all too often remains inaccessible to us. Enter the Storytelling at Work workshop – a simple way to activate this powerful, innate skill.
Wisdom Circles
Want to establish a culture of storytelling in your organization or community? Looking for a simple way to help people to share their meaningful, memorable stories with each other? Here's how.
Podcasts & Videos
Click here to view and listen to a series of interviews with the author of this blog. Go beyond the written word. Listen. Feel. Elevate the conversation. Understand what the big deal is about personal storytelling.
Blogs 'R Us
If you like this blog, you might also like Mitch's other two blogs: The Heart of Innovation and The Heart of the Matter. Mitch is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.
Idea Champions
When Mitch isn't writing, he's captaining the good ship Idea Champions, a leading edge innovation consulting and training company based in Woodstock, NY. What their clients say.
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