Storytelling at Work
January 30, 2023
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)

January 04, 2023
Transparency

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Storytelling at Work is honored to publish the following first-person story by Barbara Bash about an extraordinary moment she experienced in the company of her teacher, Chogyam Trungpa.

In 1980 I was 32 years old living in Boulder Colorado, teaching calligraphy and book arts at Naropa University and working as a freelance calligraphic designer.

I was also deeply involved in the world of Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who had arrived in North America ten years earlier and gathered a lively and diverse community around him.

During the spring of that year, I traveled to the Bay Area to assist in a Dharma Art seminar that Trungpa was offering in San Francisco. There would be a number of creative events happening -- poetry readings, art and music performances and environmental installations. Since I had lived in Berkeley during the 1970's, I had old friends in the area and it felt like a kind of return.

Continue reading "Transparency "

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:29 AM | Comments (1)

January 01, 2023
Five New Year Resolutions from a Very Wise Soul

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My good friend, Stevie Ray McHugh, author of You Are God Enough and channeler of a wise soul named "Aion", asked for some guidance a few days ago re: New Year's resolutions. Here is the answer he received:

First, resolve to evolve. Stay more present by slowing down. This shift in perception enables you to stop the world and your egoic mind, allowing you to resonate in Higher Self even more frequently. This sets you firmly on the path of evolution in consciousness.

Second, share the stories of your struggles and realizations about soul integration. Sharing stories is an act of generosity and humility. The more you connect with others on the path, the more joy you will experience.

Third, act on your guidance even more closely in everything you do, think, say and feel. This requires the courage to trust in Spirit and transform into an even more fully integrated being. Embody the courage to create and recreate yourself, your life and your perception of the Real.

Fourth, let go of the habitual, egoic identifications that cause fear, anger, doubt or self-recrimination. Commit to letting go of who you think you are. Dance with the unknown. Explore deeper, wider and higher frequencies to fully embody the emergence of the new you, rising like a phoenix from the flames.

And fifth, radiate love and light. Be a beacon of light and forgiveness blessing all souls. Expand the love in your heart and radiate it outward in all directions and dimensions. This adds to the tsunami of love rippling across the multiverse, uplifting all souls and continuing the evolution consciousness Itself. You are that already. So be it.

More about Stevie Ray

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:53 AM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2022
My Top Ten Posts on Medium

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Recently, I've discovered MEDIUM -- a blogging platform with more than 100 million viewers per month. Not all of them have made it to my Medium abode yet, but word is getting out.

In case you haven't visited that part of cyberspace, now's your chance -- especially if you have been enjoying my writing over the years. Here are my ten most popular stories on Medium.

When an Email at 2:00 a.m. Changes Everything
Last Night I Googled Longing
What Have You Accomplished?
What I Learned in a Closet From My 3-Year Old Son
On Being Visited By an Angel
What It Really Means to Be a Friend
Here's the Problem with Reading Rumi
On Realizing the Nature of Pure Being
20 Poets and One Comedian on the Awesome Power of Poetry
A Small Bag of Red Berries

If you want to subscribe to my Medium blog and/or receive email alerts whenever a new post is published, click here. Then click on any story. At the end of each story is a simple way to sign up for email alerts. Easy peasy.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2022
The Zen Filing System

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Some years ago, when I was the "Community Coordinator" in Denver, Colorado, I worked closely with a very Zen-minded man named Jon Lieben. Jon was in charge of all maintenance and repairs to the Community Center and had an office next to mine.

One day, as I was walking by Jon's office, I saw that he, with his left arm, was sweeping all of the papers and files on his desk into a big empty box on the floor. My first impression was quite judgmental -- that what Jon was doing was NOT a very skillful way to organize all of the many papers, projects, and details he was responsible for -- anyone of which, if left undone, would end up affecting hundreds of people and possible causing big problems, some of which that I would have to deal with later.

"Jon", I called out," What are you DOING, man? That's a lot of important papers you're just chucking into the trash. Don't you think you should, at least, LOOK at that stuff before throwing it away?"

Jon looked at me with an enigmatic smile. And paused.

"The way I figure it, Mitch, is that if any of these are REALLY important, somebody's gonna call me."

While I was absolutely bamboozled by Jon's approach at the time, the older I've gotten, the more I've come to realize how brilliant it was.
I've got files up the wazoo in my office, stacks of multi-colored folders in more than a few places, each file with a carefully written label telling me what's in it -- or, in some case, big bold words I've written on the folder, itself, words like "DEAL WITH THIS NOW!" or "IMPORTANT FINANCIAL STUFF."

Basically, this stuff just sits there like high school geometry homework waiting to be filed, which I rarely do. When I finally get guilty enough or anxious enough to actually DO something, I look through these stacks and discover that 95% of them are completely useless -- some kind of "paper trail" I never need to follow, the flora and fauna of somebody else's concept of what's important in my life.

If Jon was standing in my office, he would have, a long time ago, simply swept them into a big empty box on the floor, freeing me up from having to look at this stuff -- a visual phenomenon that has always left me feeling there was something UNDONE in my life and that something that REALLY NEEDED MY ATTENTION, when in fact, it didn't.

Let's hear it for Jon Lieben, ladies and gentlemen, and the realization that life is much simpler than how we perceive it most of the time.

(Jon, if you are reading this. THANK YOU!)


MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2022
The Poetry of Life

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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 "The Poetry of Life"

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

November 06, 2022
Evelyne Pouget's Next Series of San Miguel Mosaic Workshops

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Greetings. My name is Evelyne Pouget, San Miguel artist offering a series of mosaic workshops in November and December. We will meet at my outdoor studio and garden in Colonia Lindavista -- a 10-minute taxi ride from Centro. The #4 bus stops on my block.

You will learn simple techniques to make creative objects of art (i.e. mirrors, frames, small paintings, boxes etc.) out of glass mosaics. No previous experience is necessary.

Continue reading "Evelyne Pouget's Next Series of San Miguel Mosaic Workshops"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2022
A Good Story, Like Perfume...

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A good story, like perfume, is evocative. Listening to it calls forth a response that moves a person from one state of mind to another, not just for the moment, but for all time -- because a story, well-told, is long remembered. And what it is that moves inside us is not just the plot, or the characters, or even the message, but the space of discovery that the story opens up.

Music is a perfect example of this phenomenon. A good piece of music is composed of pauses as well as notes. Indeed, it is the spaces between the notes that is often responsible for evoking the feeling, allowing the listener to more deeply experience what is being heard.

Amateur composers tend to do too much. They clutter their compositions with themselves, making the music more about their own proficiency than the depth of what's possible to evoke in others -- a phenomenon that led jazz-great, Dizzy Gillespie, to once confess, "It took me my entire life to learn what not to play."

The same holds true with story. Skillful storytellers don't say too much, don't clutter the tale with their telling. Instead, they provide just enough nuance for the listener to enter their world and participate. That's the goal of any work of art -- to create a space for something meaningful to be explored.

Ultimately, the storyteller's task is a simple one -- to create the stage upon which the human heart can dance -- what hearing a cello in the distance evokes at dusk or how you might feel just before opening a love letter.

"Creating a stage upon which the heart can dance" -- Prem Rawat
Excerpted from this book
Not excerpted from this book
Photo: Drew Collins, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2022
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)

October 06, 2022
The Robbers

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When I was 13, my sister was 18. She was the proverbial big sister. I was the proverbial little brother. And though she called me "twerp" and I called her "fatso", it was always comforting to know she was in the next room, especially on the nights when our parents went out. I wouldn't be alone. My sister was there.

But when she went off to college, everything changed. Now I was the only child in the house. Now it was just me.

I will never forget my first night alone. My parents, after dinner, casually informed me they were going out for the evening but would be back at a "reasonable hour." They petted the dog, gave me a hug, and were gone in a flash. I stood by the front door, listening, until the sound of their Oldsmobile disappeared into the distance. Then I made myself a huge bowl of ice cream, retreated to my room, turned on the TV, flopped down on my bed, and started doing my homework.

Continue reading "The Robbers"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2022
The Digital Art of Evelyne Pouget

What follows are examples of Evelyne Pouget's digital art, inspired by the danzantes of San Miguel de Allende. Her work is an alchemical blend of photography and digital effects. Everything you see is available for purchase. Scroll down for details.

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"The world is an illusion, but you have to act as if it's real." - Krishna

Continue reading "The Digital Art of Evelyne Pouget"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2022
I BURN FOR YOU: A Stellar New EP by Fuzzbee Morse

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Good people of planet Earth, it is my great pleasure to inform you that the very magnificent, masterful, fun-loving, creative, multi-instrumentalist and man-about-town, Jonathan "Fuzzbee" Morse, has just released a wonderful new four-song EP, I Burn For You.

If you already know Fuzzbee's music, you are in for a treat. If you don't know Fuzzbee's music, here is your introduction to a man who, at 16, was jamming with Frank Zappa, and has gone on to play with such other musical greats as Bono, Sting, Lou Reed, Aaron Neville, Jaco Pastorius, Third World, Karla Bonoff, Richie Havens, Jean-Luc Ponty, Ric Ocasek, Axl Rose, Chambers Brothers, Greg Hawkes, Ben Orr, Pink, Dave Grohl, The Soul Survivors, Daniel Lanois, Donovan, Jerry Marotta, Tony Levin, Derek Trucks, Julian Lennon, Rufus Wainwright, John Sebastian, David Sancious, Jesse Colin Young, Freebo, Natalie Cole, Lee Sklar, Nick Mason, and Russ Kunkel.

And that's just a sampling, folks.

Continue reading "I BURN FOR YOU: A Stellar New EP by Fuzzbee Morse"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:44 PM | Comments (1)

September 12, 2022
ON THE WAY BACK FROM AMAROO: Knowledge in Action

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Here is the beginning of a real life "Knowledge in Action" story about my mythic journey back home from Amaroo -- beginning with the curious phenomenon of my first leg of the return flight from Brisbane to Sydney NOT EXISTING! There was no Qantas flight 503 and my phone didn't work and there were no Qantas employees on duty (it being 2:29 am) and there was no obvious way to get any assistance.

But that was just the Fellini appetizer.

The LA to Newark flight sat on the runway for two hours. Then we "deplaned" -- waiting for another, much older, plane to be cleaned and "catered." The caterers, apparently, onboarded enough peanuts, but they forgot the air!

Continue reading "ON THE WAY BACK FROM AMAROO: Knowledge in Action"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:27 AM | Comments (0)

August 31, 2022
The Release of "Love Today"

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Six years ago, I had a rare opportunity to meet with Prem Rawat for an hour each day over the course of four days to talk about his photography. The goal? To learn about his fascination and approach to the art so I could write about his photography for his website, RawatCreations.com.

What was my experience during those four days? Like nothing I had ever experienced before.

After the second day of meeting with him, his secretary called to tell me that tomorrow would be a day off -- which I was very glad to have, needing as I was, some time to process everything we had talked about the previous two days and to more deeply get in touch with the feeling that was bubbling up inside of me.

Continue reading "The Release of "Love Today""

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2022
The Miraculous Border Crossing

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What follows is a chapter of a memoir-in-process by Joan Apter about her four-year overland-to-India adventure: 1967 to 1971 -- one that led her to the home of Prem Rawat (known as "Maharaji" at that time) when he was only 12 years old.

It was late in 1969. I was 21-years old and my bus from Pakistan to India was approaching the border.

I had left America in 1967 without a plan, feeling that it was time for me to bail from the chaos and darkness of the Vietnam war, the violent race riots and the assassination of my generation's heroes. Many of my friends were already fleeing to Canada.

Simply put, I was looking for a place to settle that made more sense, having already "turned on, tuned in and dropped out," quitting college after my second year.

So, with the little bit of money I had earned at my summer job, I said goodbye to my family, promised to be back soon, and boarded my Air Icelandic flight to Luxembourg. Thus began what was to become my four-year sojourn overland to India.

Continue reading "The Miraculous Border Crossing"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:41 PM | Comments (1)

August 11, 2022
Getting Ready to Cross Over

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This is my friend, Warren Bernhardt. I saw him early this evening in his room, on his death bed. Warren is getting ready to move on after 83 years on planet Earth. As usual, I brought him a chocolate milkshake, even though a few days ago he decided not to drink anything anymore, just as he had decided not to eat anything anymore. But the last time I visited him, he asked if i would bring him a milkshake and so I did.

Before I visited today, I spoke with his beautiful daughter, Nicole, and we talked about whether or not I should actually give him the milkshake, wanting to honor his new commitment not to drink anything anymore. Nicole suggested I put it in the refrigerator and just visit him, but if he asked for the milkshake (choice, always choice!), then I would bring it to him. Four seconds after walking into his room, Warren asked me if I had brought the milkshake, so I fetched it from the kitchen, held it for him and bent the straw in his direction, so he could sip. But try as he might, he could not get anything from the straw. So, I pulled the straw out and sucked the bottom of it, clogged as it was, with a chunk of vanilla ice cream. It tasted very good.

Warren laughed. And then it was his turn. He took four sips and then asked me to put it back in the refrigerator, which I did.

Continue reading "Getting Ready to Cross Over"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:47 AM | Comments (1)

July 31, 2022
I BURN FOR YOU: A Stellar New EP by Fuzzbee Morse

a0881363933_16.jpg

Good people of planet Earth, it is my great pleasure to inform you that the very magnificent, masterful, fun-loving, creative, multi-instrumentalist and man-about-town, Jonathan "Fuzzbee" Morse, has just released a wonderful new four-song EP, I Burn For You.

If you already know Fuzzbee's music, you are in for a treat. If you don't know Fuzzbee's music, here is your introduction to a man who, at 16, was jamming with Frank Zappa, and has gone on to play with such other musical greats as Bono, Lou Reed, Aaron Neville, Jaco Pastorius, Third World, Karla Bonoff, Richie Havens, Jean-Luc Ponty, Ric Ocasek, Axl Rose, Chambers Brothers, Greg Hawkes, Ben Orr, Pink, Dave Grohl, The Soul Survivors, Daniel Lanois, Donovan, Jerry Marotta, Tony Levin, Derek Trucks, Julian Lennon, Rufus Wainwright, John Sebastian, David Sancious, Jesse Colin Young, Freebo, Natalie Cole, Lee Sklar, Nick Mason, and Russ Kunkel.

And that's just a sampling, folks.

Continue reading "I BURN FOR YOU: A Stellar New EP by Fuzzbee Morse"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2022
The Chocolate Milk Shake

I have a friend who is in the process of dying. He is on his death bed and won't be leaving it until the men in black suits take him away. In terms of eternity, Warren is going just a few seconds before the rest of us. But it is his time now and one more wake up call for me -- someone who has been bedside to a dying father and a dying sister, knowing that one day it will be my turn.

Warren has chosen not to eat, but he is still drinking liquids. So last week I asked him what he wanted to drink and he told me in the beat of a heart -- a thick chocolate milk shake from Stuarts. Vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.

Each time I visit Warren I bring him a milkshake, hold it for him, bend the straw in his direction and watch him drink. There is something about the moment of a dying man drinking a chocolate milk shake that floors me. Each sip Warren takes is a little bit of heaven, a return to childhood, a mainline moment into the here and now. I hold the straw and feel the coolness of the milkshake passing by my fingers as Warren feels the sweetness on his tongue.

I want to live my life in this milkshake moment. I want to savor each sip as I let the world go, feeling in my bones what is beyond it all, no matter what has happened in the past or what will happen in the future.

We are here for such a short while, a blink of the eye. Now you see it, now you don't. But while we do, we get a chance to enjoy each sip, the sweetness on our tongue and the love in our heart.

Keep savoring my friends. Enjoy it all while you can.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:08 AM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2022
The Awareness That This Will Become a Memory

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:56 PM | Comments (1)

July 05, 2022
Ending Violence with Chopsticks

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Once upon a time there was old man sitting at sushi bar in Japan, his back turned to the front door. Halfway through his meal, in walks three young thugs, with only one thing in mind -- to attack the old man from behind and steal his money. Quickly looking around the room, they knew this would be an easy day's pay for them, since the old man was the only person in restaurant. What they didn't know, however, was that the old man was actually a great Master of the martial arts -- a legend in self-defense who had been trained from an early age to sense danger from behind.

Continue reading "Ending Violence with Chopsticks"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:45 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.
© IDEA CHAMPIONS