Storytelling at Work
February 19, 2019
INTRODUCING: The Wisdom Circles of San Miguel de Allende

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San Miguel de Allende is famous for a lot of things -- its diverse culture, colonial architecture, hot springs, cobblestone streets, affordable living, great restaurants, town square, benevolent people, and Writer's Conference, just to name a few. One thing it is NOT famous for, at least not yet, is its Wisdom Circles.

If you have not heard of Wisdom Circles, you are in good company because they are a new phenomenon in San Miguel. Created by Mitch Ditkoff, organizational change agent, and author of Storytelling at Work, and Storytelling for the Revolution, Wisdom Circles are a fascinating, new way to build community, elevate the conversation, and transmit wisdom one story at a time.

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February 15, 2019
Solomon the Storyteller

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February 12, 2019
SOON COMING: An Anthology of Wisdom Stories from Living Sages

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GREETINGS! I am beginning the process of identifying a wide variety of living Sages, Masters, Gurus, Teachers, and Wisdom Keepers to contribute their favorite story to an anthology of "wisdom stories" I am putting together. Some of these Sages will be well known to many. Some not. At this point in the game, I am looking for two things: 1) Suggestions of "wise ones" to approach; 2) Contact information (or connections) for HOW I might approach these wise ones in the simplest and most direct way possible. If you are not comfortable with leaving your suggestions in the comments box, feel free to email me: mitch@ideachampions.com

The Magical Mystery tour continues...

About the curator
Photo: NASA on Unsplash

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February 10, 2019
Why God Made Man

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Elie Wiesel

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February 08, 2019
Life Beyond Story

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Storytelling is a two-sided coin. One side is imprinted with all of the symbols of the stories you have ever told or heard -- your "memorable moments of truth" in this life, experiences you've had - small, medium, and large -- that express, in narrative form, what you have learned, felt, and remembered. The sense you have made of your life.

The other side of the coin? What is beyond story. ISNESS you might say. PURE BEING. The EXPERIENCE of life without your interpretation of it.

Indeed, there are many self-help disciplines and spiritual practices that are designed to help their practitioners go beyond their story, the premise being that our stories are often self-invented prisons we have created that artificially define and constrain ourselves. Our "persona", if you will -- the wind-up doll we create and trot out into the world.

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2019
44 Awesome Quotes for Writers

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Fifty percent of the people I meet these days tell me "they have a book in them" or they "really want to write a book" or "they've started to write a book, but somehow...er... uh... um... they haven't quite completed it."

I totally get it. I do. Writing a book is not easy. It sounds good and gets you a lot of points at parties when you let it fly that you are thinking about writing a book. But there's a big difference between thinking about writing a book and actually writing it. And there's a big difference between writing a book and actually completing it. Thus the following quotes.

Read them at your own risk. Find the ones that really sing to you and contemplate them. They are gifts to you from 44 accomplished writers. The know what they are talking about.

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2019
The Sanctuary Within

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There are three kinds of storytelling in the world: oral, written, and visual. Of the three, oral storytelling is the most common, having been around since the beginning of time. That's how our ancestors ensured their survival and passed on their wisdom to the next generation. In time, oral storytelling morphed into written storytelling -- not exclusively, of course, but as simply another way to convey vital information and wisdom that needed to be shared.

In the 1800's, for example, two brothers, in Germany, collected more than 200 folk tales from their homeland and published them in a book we now know as "Grimm's Fairy Tales." In the process, however, the two brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm, edited the stories quite a bit, according to their own values, and the stories changed.

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February 04, 2019
Sneak Preview of Lap of Honour!

Tim Hain is pioneering new ground, folks, with his forthcoming book, Lap of Honour, telling a fascinating story in a fascinating way. Fifty-six years in the making! Talk about perseverance! Stay tuned!

Tim (almost) on the X-Factor
More about Tim here

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2019
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.

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January 31, 2019
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.

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

January 29, 2019
A Jar of Minced Garlic

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So there I am at La Comer, San Miguel de Allende;s biggest grocery store, having just located the papayas, soymilk, and rice cakes, when I look down at my list and notice there is an item I've still not found -- an item my dear, sweet wife needed badly in order to prepare her special dinner tonight: MINCED GARLIC.

Unable to remember the Spanish word for "garlic", I realize there's no point asking anyone in the store to direct me to the proper aisle for an item I can't name, so I begin aimlessly wandering around the largest grocery store in San Miguel, as I attempt to identify what category of food "minced garlic" might belong to: Condiment? Vegetable? Spice?

"Garlic, garlic, garlic," I begin chanting under my breath, but no Spanish equivalent comes to mind. Nada. Zero. Zippo. This goes on for way too long. And then... praise the Lord...and pass the guacamole, appearing from who knows where... badaboom, badabing... it comes to me in a flash: "OJO!" Yes, OJO! That's it! The three-letter word for garlic in espanol has somehow bubbled to the surface of what is left of my mind.

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January 28, 2019
Storytelling is the Trojan Horse of Wisdom

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Most people, sometime in their life, enter into a period of seeking. The language they use to describe their quest may be different, but the intention is the same -- to tap into a higher dimension of knowing and become self-realized. The specific form their seeking takes is quite variable. Some go on pilgrimages. Some retreat to caves or mountains. Others join ashrams, read holy books, meditate, practice yoga, or try to find a great teacher.

But no matter how you slice and dice it, the underlying assumption of all these seeking strategies is pretty much the same. "There is something I don't know. There is something I've not yet experienced. There is a deep wisdom I need to find." And so begins the hero's journey. Or the heroine's.

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January 26, 2019
STORY THE FUTURE: Online Workshops and Interviews on the Art of Storytelling

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Click here to register for STORY THE FUTURE'S most recent online offering -- a great way to learn more about the art and science of storytelling. Includes a wide variety of sage input, methods, techniques, and conversation from some wonderful thought leaders, change agents, and on-the-ground practitioners in the storytelling space.

My most recent contribution to the field

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2019
Ten Reasons Why People Don't Share Their Stories

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I'm sure you've heard the expression, "Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?" -- a question whose roots go back to an old Carl Sandburg poem. The same question holds true for the storytelling revolution. I can flap my mouth about the power of personal storytelling until the cows come home, but unless you and a critical mass of others step up, nothing much will happen. This is a volunteer army I'm talking about, a self-appointed crew of courageous people willing to make their way to the front lines of their own life and tell it like it is -- to share stories that will spark reflection, insight, wisdom, and love in others.

Are there obstacles on this storytelling battlefield? Of course there are. But the biggest ones are invisible -- old thoughts, assumptions, and beliefs that stop us from speaking up. What follows are the ten most common of these obstacles:

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2019
The Man from Croatia

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It was a bone cold night in January, four hours after my wife and kids had gone to bed, and I was sitting alone in my man cave, with nothing but a laptop, i-phone, and the painful recognition that even though I had written five books, created a successful company, and had supported my family for 15 years, I had yet to accomplish a single meaningful thing in my life.

This is a feeling many writers know all too well, the moon howling moment of dread when they recognize that their early promise of genius had either not yet born fruit or the fruit they did manage to pick was rotting in a bowl of an unhungry stranger many miles away -- the kind of feeling, I imagined, that was at least partially responsible for Vincent Van Gogh cutting off his ear, a man who had sold only a single painting his entire life, and to his brother, at that, a man he knew was buying mostly out of pity.

Continue reading "The Man from Croatia"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

Wisdom Circle Ground Rules

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A Wisdom Circle is an opportunity for a small group of people (6-12) to come together in a relaxed setting to share their life stories with each other -- memorable moments of truth that have, contained within them, a specific kind of message or meaning.

Simply put, all of us have wisdom inside us -- insights, awakenings, or "lessons learned" that we have experienced along the way. A Wisdom Circle is an opportunity to share this good stuff with others and then "unpack" the stories a bit. The message or meaning we have for each other is delivered via the telling of our stories -- not by teaching or preaching or advising. The storytelling does most of the work.

In order for a Wisdom Circle to be effective, the people participating in it need to be willing to abide by a few key ground rules. These "banks of the river" keep the energy flowing and increase the odds that everyone will enjoy the process and receive maximum value.

Here are the ground rules:

1. Keep your stories to five minutes or less.

2. When telling your story, remember you are telling a story about a specific "moment in time" (with a beginning, middle, and end). You are not telling the "story of your life" to a captive audience.

3. When someone, in the circle is telling their story, listen deeply and non-judgmentally. Be fully present!

4. When it's time to respond to someone's story, after they've finished telling it, either ask a question or reflect on how the message of the story applies to your own life. If you have nothing to say, that's fine.

5. No therapizing, fixing, or advising allowed.

6. Allow the facilitator to facilitate. In other words, if the facilitator asks you to wrap up your story (because you are exceeding your 5-minute limit) or if the facilitator intercedes for any reason, allow that to happen.

7. Honor confidentiality.

Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling at Work
The creator of Wisdom Circles

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2019
26 Quotes on Storytelling

26 inspiring quotes about the power of stories and storytelling.

Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling at Work
MitchDitkoff.com

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

January 14, 2019
Testimonial from the Executive Director of the San Miguel Writer's Conference & Literary Festival

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This just in from Susan Page, Executive Director of the San Miguel Writer's Conference and Literary Festival in response to my storytelling presentation at the January 10th Literary Sala.

"Mitch Ditkoff is a wonderful ambassador of the power of storytelling to transmit wisdom and has the rare talent to keep an audience riveted. His message is inspiring and authoritative, and his presentation, entirely entertaining. For a keynote or workshop that will leave your audience smiling and diving deeper, long after the talk, and in love with the speaker, don't miss this seasoned, skilled presenter."

More about what I am up to these days
MitchDitkoff.com
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2019
My Vision for Fostering a Revolution of Inspired Storytelling

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Although I have been deeply involved in the world of storytelling for the past six years, I think it's fair to say that I am relatively new to the game. Anthropologists tell us that oral storytelling emerged about the same time as language -- approximately 100,000 years ago. Based on my calculations, that puts me about 99,994 years late to the party. Oh well! Better late than never, eh? As I understand it, Grandma Moses didn't start painting until she was 64 and Abraham didn't get circumcised until he was 101. Some things take time, I guess.

Continue reading "My Vision for Fostering a Revolution of Inspired Storytelling"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2018
Gandhi and the Professor

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I just received this wonderful fake, urban legend story from Craig Klawuhn. Even if never happened, it's a great little story to read, especially if you ever find yourself being dismissed or diminished by "people in power."

When Gandhi was studying law at University College, London, a Caucasian professor, whose last name was Peter, disliked him intensely and always displayed prejudice and animosity towards him.

Also, because Gandhi never lowered his head when addressing his professor, as assumed, there were always arguments and confrontations.

Continue reading "Gandhi and the Professor"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:42 AM | 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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