Storytelling at Work
October 30, 2017
The Art of Using Story as a Way to Communicate Big, Hairy Ideas

iStock_000018684091_Small.jpg

A priest, a penguin, and a newspaper reporter walk into a bar. The penguin orders a shot of Red Eye. The priest starts juggling three flaming chain saws. The newspaper reporter turns to the bartender, smiles and says: "I know there's a story here somewhere."

And yes, there is. There are stories everywhere. As the poet, Muriel Ruykeser once said, "The world is not made of atoms. The world is made of stories."

Almost everyone in business these days -- at least the people responsible for selling big, hairy ideas -- knows that the difference between success and failure often depends on what kind of story is told -- and how well. Content may be King. But it is Story that built the kingdom. Or as Steve Jobs once put it, "The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller."

The question, these days, isn't whether or not storytelling works. It does. It's worked for thousands of years. If you have any doubt, just ask your local neuroscientist. The question is how do you tell a really effective story -- one that not only informs and entertains, but gets results -- the kind of results that opens minds, influences behavior, and is remembered.

And this is precisely where the proverbial plot thickens. Why? Because most people don't think they know how to tell good story. At least, that's the story they keep telling themselves -- that they don't have the chops or experience to tell a good story. Spoiler alert! Not true.

34.jpg

Social scientists tell us that 65% of our conversations boil down to story -- narrative accounts with a beginning, middle, and end. Throw in a likable hero, a setting, some obstacles, a few juicy details, plot twists, and a resolution, and voila, you've got yourself a story!

Simply put, storytelling is "an unconscious competency" -- something human beings naturally do. The thing is -- we don't know how we do it. Like breathing, for example. Or thinking. Or riding a bicycle. But just because we can't explain how we do it, doesn't mean we're not good at it. Kapish?

You already know how to tell a story. You do. You've been telling stories ever since you were a child. In fact, you tell stories many times a day. On the job. Off the job. Hanging out with your friends. Wherever. Story is in your DNA. Indeed, neuroscientists like to say that the human brain is "wired for story." It's how we make sense of our lives. It's our communication default position. We are storytelling animals. And the more we practice, the better we get.

The simplest explanation of what story is? A narrative -- an account of what happened or what might happen. That account, of course, can be utterly boring ("I woke up. I picked up my dry cleaning. I returned home.") Or it can be utterly captivating -- what every movie you've ever seen or novel you've ever read has tried to accomplish. To capture your attention. To deliver a meaningful message. And to influence what you think, feel, and do.

For the moment, think of storytelling as a big, yummy pot of soup. It smells good. It looks good. And it tastes good. But at first glance, you can't tell what the ingredients are -- or the spices. Do you really need to know every single ingredient if you're being served a bowl of soup from a reliable source? Probably not. But if you're making the soup, you most definitely do. So let's sit down with our penguin, priest, and newspaper reporter for a few minutes and see if we can demystify what this whole mumbo gumbo story thing is all about.

iStock_000022108158_Small.jpg

First things first. If you want your story to pack a wallop, you've got to know your audience. If they're allergic to eggplant, don't put eggplant in the soup. If they're vegetarian, lose the chicken. And know your end game -- what it is you're attempting to communicate -- what you want your audience to think, feel, or do differently after listening to you. Whatever message you want to leave them with, be able to boil it down to 10 words or less.

Years ago, this would have been known as your "elevator speech". These days, if you can't deliver your message upon entering an elevator, you're screwed. Think about it. When Steve Jobs launched the iPod, he cut to the chase by distilling his message down to just five words: "1,000 songs in your pocket." That's what the iPod was. Technobabble? No. Overwhelming factoids and data? No. One clean soundbyte surrounded by a compelling beginning, middle, and end. When you think about the story you want to tell, be sure you can distill it down to a memorable meme -- what screenwriters do when they pitch their idea to a movie studio.

Just like the iPod has a shape, so does a story -- the beginning, the middle, and the end, as I've said before, but I'm saying again because I want you to remember just how important structure. It's the spine of your intended result.

The beginning is where you set things up -- the place where you hook the attention of your audience, the place where you set the scene and introduce your hero -- hopefully a likable one. Then you introduce the Big Bad Wolf -- the obstacle, the conflict that begets the drama -- which, in your case, if you are trying to sell a product or service -- might be the competition, a government regulation, or the cost of entering a new market. Get the picture? Someone or something exists and that someone or something wants to move forward towards an inspired goal, but his/her/its path is blocked. Time for nail biting and some popcorn. Hooray for adversity! Without it, there is no story. No Star Wars. No Rocky. No Three Little Pigs.

And the broth of the great story soup you are concocting? What might that be? Passion! Your passion. Your passion for the message you're communicating and your passion for the act of storytelling itself. No passion, no power. No passion, no presence. No passion, no purchase order. It's that simple.

Wizard Storyteller2.jpg

Bottom line, story is all about "emotional transportation" -- the journey you take people on from here to there, from known to unknown, from no can do to what's the next step?"

No matter how logical, linear, or analytical your audience might be, unless you can speak to their heart, you will never win their mind. Yes, of course, if you are making a business presentation, you will need to spice up your story with the fruits of your research, but only enough to keep the story moving, only enough to soothe the savage beast of the left brain. Data is the spice. It is not the main ingredient. If your audience isn't feeling what your saying, it doesn't matter how many statistics you throw their way. As Einstein said, "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts."

It's Little Red Riding Hood on her way to Grandma's house we care about, not her shoe size or SAT scores.

Other things to be mindful of as your prepare your presentation? Keep your stories short. Speak in the language of the people, not the technologists. No one wants to hear an epic poem. What you're trying to do by telling a story is create an opening to drive the Mack truck of possibility through and maybe pick up a few hitchhikers along the way. You are building a bridge, not a shopping mall.

Lose the complicated back story. "The world doesn't want to hear about your labor pains, they want to see the baby," said Johnny Sain, an American right-handed pitcher for the Boston Braves, born in 1917, who was the runner up for the National League's Most Valuable Player Award in 1948 after leading the league in wins and compiling a lifetime ERA of 3.49 -- the last pitcher to face Babe Ruth). See what I mean? Your team may have put a lot of effort into the project. Months of work. That's great. That's nice. Show us the baby!

And please don't read from your PowerPoint slides. Not only is that boring, it's rude. Borderline, inhuman. There's no way in the world you can build rapport and "read the room" if you are staring at a screen. If you want your audience to look into the future, you've got to look into their eyes, not one boring slide after another.

Here's something to think about: If you really want to get the attention of your audience, "violate expectations." Like what Bill Gates did when, in the middle of a keynote presentation on malaria, he released a bunch of mosquitoes into the room. Talk about buzz! At the very least, infuse your presentation with some visual buzz -- analogies and metaphors that paint a picture for your listeners -- something they can see, not just hear about.

And when you want to crank things up, ask a compelling question or two. Then pause... and listen to the response. The more you listen, the more your audience will listen. Know that a good story is also a good performance. So, unhinge yourself from the dead zone -- the spot on the floor to which you have nailed both of your feet. Move around the room. Vary the lengths of your sentences and the volume of your voice. Gesture. Make facial expressions. Speak to one specific person at a time, not the generic "audience." But above all, trust yourself. If you don't trust yourself, no one else will.

Of course, you can only trust yourself, if you are prepared. So practice your ass off. Know your talking points. Write out a script. Understand the flow of what you want to say, the key milestones along the way and whatever anecdotes and facts you want to include. Then distill the whole thing down to few main points on note cards. Get the story in your bones. Then throw your note cards away. Or, if you absolutely need to hold onto your note cards, glance at them only occasionally. Otherwise, they will become a rectangular 3x5 PowerPoint show in your hand, yet another slow leak in the bucket of your storytelling brilliance.

Remember, there is no formula for telling a good story. Only guidelines. And there is no one right way to tell a story. There are thousands. Maybe millions. Or billions -- each one according to the style and personality of the teller. Your job is not to tell a story like Steve Jobs or Garrison Keillor or Winston Churchill. Your job is tell a story like YOU! And while it is perfectly fine (and often, useful) to read books on storytelling, study TED videos, and attend cool workshops, in the end, all you need to know is this...

iStock_000025834544_Small.jpg

You are sitting around the tribal fire with the elders. They want to hear from you. You've been on a big adventure for days, weeks, or even months. You've got important news to share with them, vital insights to reveal, memorable experiences to convey. The survival of the tribe depends it. You're not trying to get promoted. You're not worried about being cast out of the tribe. The only thing that matters is telling your story in a way that informs, inspires, and enlightens.

End of story.

Penguin Photo: Ira Meyer
Storytelling at Work
The Storytelling Workshop
Spark the innovation mindset with story
60 minute radio interview on storytelling at work

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2017
In Praise of My Mother-In-Law

Henriette.JPG

Years ago, as a poetry graduate student at Brown University, there were lots of things I dreamed about writing. My future French mother-in-law, at 90, was not one of them. But, in time, everything changes. Here are eight vignettes about Henriette Pouget (and her dear, departed husband, Jean, who I never had the pleasure of meeting), published today in the Huffington Post.

My book of stories
My website

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2017
16 Brief Videos on Storytelling

samurai2.jpg

Click here 16 brief videos of Mitch Ditkoff talking about the power of storytelling (and sharing some of his own "moment of truth" stories in the workplace).

These brief videos are part of an exciting new presentation platform called "GlowDec".

PS: What story will YOU tell today -- a story that will inspire, spark reflection, or transmit insight or wisdom to another?

Idea Champions
Excerpted from this book
Podcasts, videos, and interviews

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2017
What Stories Will You Tell Today?

ConfusedLady.jpg

Here's a story you can probably relate to: You are walking down the street when a friend, coming the other way, stops and asks "Whassup?" It's a question you've heard a thousand times before -- the default, open-ended salutation. Your choices are many. You can answer any way you want, from the predictable "Fine, whassup with you?" to an elaborate monologue on any number of topics: the weather, your vacation plans, the economy, the latest terrorist attack, local politics, your job, and the latest viral video.

In that moment, there is no correct answer. You get to decide what story to tell. What you don't get to decide is the impact your story will have. That's up to the listener. But know this: your story will have impact. Everything you say, everything you do has impact, even a seemingly casual moment of passing a friend on the street.

If you watch TV, you can see this phenomenon playing out daily. With an almost infinite number of topics to report on, the news TV reports on is mostly bad news: war, violence, political unrest, terrorism, famine, corruption, plane crashes, murder, scandal, disease, gossip, and unemployment with an occasional human interest story thrown in for good measure.

68% of Americans believe that TV news broadcasts focus way too much on bad news and yet we keep tuning in. The impact? Our state of well-being declines. We become sadder, more negative, more hopeless and depressed, exacerbating whatever personal worries and anxieties we already had before tuning in.

DrowningHand.jpg

I'm not suggesting that news outlets airbrush the negative out of their reports. Nor am I suggesting they stop reporting on the bad stuff that's happening around the world. What I'm suggesting is that they find more of a middle path and make more of an effort to change the narrative to honor what's good and holy about being alive.

You and I are also news stations. You and I are also reporting on what's going on in the world. Like the TV executives behind the scenes, we also get to decide what stories to tell -- even on the street when a friend asks us "Whassup?" That is our moment of truth. That is our broadcast.

Will our stories be local versions of the nightly news, skewed to what's bad and wrong, full of gossip and complaint, or will we choose to tell a new story, one infused with possibility, progress, insight, awareness, and hope?

Excerpted from this book
The Story Workshop
The MotherShip

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:36 AM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2017
Holding On to What You Believe

Years ago, before terrorism, shoe bombs, and 9/11, my father and mother were on their way back home from a vacation in the Carribbean. When my father checked in at the airport, tanned and rested, the ticket agent informed him that the flight was "overbooked" and he would have to be re-ticketed and put on a later plane, along with my mom.

This, shall we say, did not sit well with him. After all, he has a confirmed ticket in his pocket and NEEDED TO GET BACK TO WORK. The ticket agent, following airline protocols, repeated the party line, explaining ever-so-politely that Mr. and Mrs. Ditkoff would need to be re-ticketed, which she would be happy to do. Not the response my father was looking for. Not even close.

So he went to the gate, found an exit door and, along with my mom, made their way onto the runway. Once there, he made a beeline for the portable stairway that other passengers on his flight were boarding. Then, he moved to the front of the line, grabbed both handrails and blocked everyone's entrance. Whatever flight attendants tried to do to appease him did not work. He simply grabbed on harder and stood his ground, my mother, somewhat embarrassed, standing off to the side. He would not budge, not an inch, his verbal commentary as tenacious as his two grips on the hand rails.

"No one gets on this plane unless we do." he barked. "No one."

And no one did. He just stood there, holding on, taking a massive stand for his rights. PS: Somehow, the flight attendants found two seats for the tanned and rested Barney and Sylvia Ditkoff. Ah... the good old days.

MitchDitkoff.com
My book on storytelling

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:21 PM | Comments (1)

October 07, 2017
THE WISDOM REVOLUTION: The Text of My 2018 TED TALK

Wizard Storyteller3.jpgI stand before you tonight for one purpose and one purpose only -- to launch a revolution. Not the kind that overthrows a government. Not the kind that replaces one political system with another. And not the kind that takes life. No. The revolution I am launching gives life -- a revolution of wisdom or, better yet, a revelation of wisdom -- a way that each and everyone of us can change things for the better on planet Earth.

My weapon of choice? Not a gun. Not a hand grenade. Not a bomb. My weapon of choice is a story. Yes, you heard that right -- a story.

Most revolutionaries have a manifesto -- a strongly worded statement of their purpose. I have one, too, but you won't need to write it down to remember it. My manifesto is already encoded in your cells. It lives inside you and always has. Like the neuroscientists like to say, "the human brain is wired for story". We are storytelling animals -- going all the back to our tribal ancestors standing around the fire and telling their stories of the day.

STORY TO PEOPLE.jpg

No matter what our differences, there is one thing we all share in common: We all belong to the same species -- "homo sapiens" -- the Latin term for "wise person".

Yes, we all know something. We do. Our challenge? How do we communicate what we know to each other? That's the real question. Because once we do, things will begin changing for the better.

Steve Jobs may have said it best. "The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the values, mission, and agenda of an entire generation that is yet to come."

And Steve is in excellent company. According to the Hopi Indians: "He that tells the story rules the world".

Powerful words, but what do they really mean? Well, instead of talking about story to make my point, allow me to actually tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a wealthy merchant traveling across India on a month-long buying trip -- a journey he made twice a year, going to off-the-beaten-path villages to buy the finest of silks and brocades.

Two days into his journey, while dining at a roadside hotel, the merchant was approached by a young man.

"Oh merchant," the young lad began. "You are old and I am young. You are frail and I am strong. Allow me to assist you, to carry what needs to be carried. Your journey will be more successful and I will get a chance to earn a much needed living."

And so the merchant hired him on the spot. Each night the two of them dined together on the finest of foods and each night, about 20 minutes into the meal, the young man would politely excuse himself -- not to use the bathroom or go for a walk -- but to search the merchant's room, looking for money to steal. Alas, he never found a single penny. Then, on the final night of the journey, racked with guilt and a big dose of curiosity, the thief confessed.

"Kind sir, ever since we met I have had only one thing in mind -- to rob you. Each night I searched your room, looking under your pillow and everywhere else, but I never found your money. Your kindness has humbled me and now all I can do now is ask your forgiveness. But before we go our separate ways, I must ask one thing: Where did you hide your money?"

"Ah..." replied the merchant. "I knew from the moment we met that you were a thief. That was obvious. So I hid my money in the only place I knew you wouldn't look. I hid my money under your pillow."

The riches I'm talking about tonight is not gold, stock options, or the almighty buck. I'm talking about what money cannot buy. Insight. Understanding. Meaning. And the highest expression of all: Wisdom. Inside of each of us there is great wisdom -- an intuitive knowing of something beyond space and time. But like the merchant's fortune, it is hiding. Where is it hiding? Under our pillow. And the pillow is story.

How does a person experience wisdom in the first place -- something actually worthy of communicating?
There are many ways. Some people read holy books. Some meditate. Some are initiated into it by a Wise Teacher or Master. And for some, wisdom simply comes with time. But no matter how we get our first taste of it, the challenge, eventually, is how do we communicate what we know to others?

Deconstruct any scripture, any sermon, any TED talk and you will find story! That's how most meaningful messages are conveyed. Indeed, social scientists tell us that 65% of all human conversations are made up of story -- either narrative accounts of what's happened in the past or our imaginings of what we'd like to see happen in the future.

What'sYourStory.jpg

Story is everywhere. As author, Madeleine D'Engle, noted: "There are entire societies that have never used the wheel. But there are no societies that did not tell stories." Other than breath, story may be the single most common denominator we all share in common.

Here's what the neuroscientists tell us: When a storyteller shares their experience, the same parts of the brain light up in the listener as lit up in the storyteller's brain upon first having the experience they are sharing. "Mood contagion" it is sometimes called. "Somatic states". "Neural coupling" -- the phenomenon of one person being able to transmit not only information about X, Y, or Z, but a feeling imbued with the power to spark transformation. "Mind Meld" as Dr. Spock would have called it -- how one person transmits hard-to-communicate "tacit knowledge" to another.

The question isn't whether or not storytelling works. It does. The question is: Are we going to step up and tell our stories?" And, equally as important, What kind of stories are we going to tell?

Storytelling, you see, is like a knife. You can use it to spread butter on toast or you can use it to poke somebody's eye out. Sages, rabbis, priests, elders, teachers, and light-bearing people of all kinds use story to communicate meaningful, memorable messages -- timeless truths and principles. That's the good news. But there's also a dark side to storytelling. It can be used to manipulate and control. Think political spin doctors. Think revisionist history. Think advertising at its worst.

If you really want to witness the power of story to color our collective mindset, all you need to do is watch the evening news. The stories the media likes to tell? Stories of violence, corruption, war, greed, rape, murder, bombings, terrorism, fraud, fires, and scandal -- with an occasional cat being rescued from a tree just so we don't just all jump off a bridge and screw up their ratings.

90% of all nightly news stories are negative. I get it. Bad news sells. I get that there's a lot of "bad stuff" going on in the world and knowing about it is the first step toward doing something about it. Please don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating that we airbrush the bad news from our lives. Even Fairy Tales have "bad news" -- the monster, the demon, and the Big Bad Wolf.

True. But how about we strike more of a balance? What if each and everyone of us chose to share more of the good stories with each other -- not just on Sundays, but everyday -- stories of breakthrough, learning, insight, and kindness -- stories that inspire, awaken, and yes, spark wisdom.

What would happen if we elevated the conversation -- one story at a time on this big, beautiful planet of ours?

Because what we say, what we express, what we put out there in the world is not just about reporting on so-called reality. It's also about shaping reality. Like one novelist put it, "People think human beings create stories. In fact, it's the other way around."

And all of this begins with you and me. Not our so-called leaders. Not the government. Not the movie makers, novelists, and programmers -- though they can certainly help. It begins with us.

I'm sure you've heart the expression "Power to the People?" Yes? And I'm sure you've heard the expression "Information is Power?" Yes? Well... what I'm saying is that if you want to be informed about what really matters, if you want reclaim your power, then get on the front lines of storytelling.

You may not own CNN, FOX News or NBC, but you are in the broadcasting business. You are your own news station. You get to program the kind of news that goes out into the world.

In 1993, a group of 4,000 meditators in Washington DC, over the course of two months, demonstrated that crime could be reduced in the U.S. capital -- in their case, by 23%, simply by meditating. (Before this experiment, the DC chief of police claimed that the only way crime could be reduced by 20% was if there was 20 inches of snow!)

I can't tell you how that mass meditation experiment worked (fans of Rupert Sheldrake might explain it as the "morphogenetic field.") All I know is that it worked. What if all 7.8 billion of us began telling wisdom stories? What might change? How might the conversations we are having shape our reality?

Here's an example from my own life.

crown_vic.jpg

Some years ago, I was hired by a large food manufacturer to facilitate a brainstorming session to help them invent a new kind of salty snack food. On the morning of the session, my day began like any other day. I woke up. I showered, shaved, dressed, picked up a USA Today from the lobby and got into a cab. Glancing at my driver's photo and name on the dashboard, it was clear to me he was not from this country. The spelling of his name seemed odd. It has many consonants in a row, kind of like someone had put a bunch of scrabble tiles in a bag, shook them, and randomly pulled them out. At that moment, I had a choice, I could have napped, read the paper, or checked my email. Or I could have started a conversation with him -- a risky proposition, as many foreign cabbies, in my experience, especially ones who worked the early shift, didn't seem to like Americans.

Screw it. I spoke.

"Where are you from?" I asked.

"Afghanistan", he replied -- a piece of information that stopped me dead in my tracks, America being smack in the middle of that horrendous war. Yes, that could have been the end of the story, but I decided to ask him how it was he came to live in America.

There was long, silent, pause, and then he spoke.

You see, he was out for a walk with his daughter, one day, in a field outside of his village when his daughter stepped on a landmine. So he ripped off his shirt and made a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. Then, with his daughter on his back, he went madly in search of a doctor. But there were no doctors. Villagers took him and his daughter in, applying home made remedies to her mangled leg, but his daughter was rapidly losing it, drifting in and out of consciousness. Then, one of the villagers told him of an outpost of nurses from the Mayo Clinic not far away. He got there and collapsed. They tended to his daughter, kept her alive, and flew her Minneapolis for surgery. Then they flew him and his wife to join their daughter as she went through more surgeries, the fitting or a prosthetic leg, and major rehabilitation. They decided to stay in America. Eventually, he got a job as a cab driver and I was now in his back seat.

You know they expression "worlds collide?" Well.. I was in the epicenter of it.

When we finally got to my client's headquarters, my driver and I both got out of the cab. I paid him. Then we hugged. No words were spoken. As I got into the elevator, I knew I had a choice to make. Do I begin my session with a traditional icebreaker or do I start with the story of my journey from hotel to headquarters? It wasn't a difficult choice to make. As Maya Angelou said, "There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you".

young_village_people_us_nato_bombing.jpg

So I opened the meeting with my Afghani cab driver story. And while I was sure I needed to tell it, I wasn't sure how the people in the room would react. It could have bombed. They could have looked at me, cross-eyed. But they didn't. Their eyes didn't cross. They opened. So did their minds. And so did something they all-too-rarely bring to work -- their hearts. My little story had a profound effect of them. Peter Guber, author of Tell To Win, refers to this as "emotional transportation".

This is the kind of revolution I'm talking about, folks -- the revolution of feeling... the revolution of perspective... the revolution of wisdom shared via the medium of story.

Indeed, a single story has the power to change mood, change minds, and change what's possible. My life changed in the telling of that story. And theirs did, too. There was a revolution in the room. You could feel it. With the telling of my Afghani cab driver story the people in the room were now revolving around something much bigger than before the story was told. A new kind of orbit was born.

Every day, when a friend passes you on the street and asks "Whassup?", you have the same choice I did. You can talk about your aching back, the weather, and the latest scandal, or you can elevate the conversation by telling a story that matters. I'm not suggesting you enter into some kind of long-winded monologue or try to convince your friend of something. No. Many stories can be told in 90 seconds or less and the good ones deliver the message without the teller having to evangelize.

As Hannah Arendt once said, "Story reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it."

I've told two kinds of story tonight. The first one, the story of the merchant, is known as a Springboard Story -- the kind of classic tale that has, embedded within it, a universal message. Every tradition has them. Sufi stories. Zen stories. Stories told by Hasidic rabbis. Stories from the Bible. Or any number of Fairy Tales. This is how all of the great sages, teachers, and masters teach and this is how we can teach each other.

The second story I told tonight -- the Afghani cab driver story -- was a personal story. I didn't read it in a book. I lived it But equally important, I told it. I shared it. I got it out of my head and into the world. I took that knife and spread some butter on your toast.

You, too, have stories to tell. I know you do. Some of them may be of the Springboard story variety. But you also have your own, personal stories to tell -- your own spontaneously occurring "moments of truth" -- an obstacle overcome... a lesson learned... a breakthrough... a rite of passage... a random act of kindness. All of us have these experiences. Every single one of us. And they have great power. But only if they are shared.

You may, like many people, think you are not a good storyteller. You may think people won't listen or you will bore people. Not true! You are already a good storyteller. You've been telling stories all your life. It's what psychologists call an "unconscious competency". Like breathing. Or thinking. Or riding a bike. You may not be able to explain how you do it, but you know how. You do. You're a natural. It's in your bones.

So this is my invitation to you: Join the storytelling revolution. Step up to the plate and let it rip! Don't just evolve. Revolve! Revolve around a much bigger sun than bad news, gossip, and complaint. Liberate the storyteller within. As one pundit put it: "The role of the storyteller is to awaken the storyteller in others."

This has been my job tonight. But it's your job, too -- that is IF you want to change the collective narrative that shapes our lives.

How to begin? It's simple. In this moment, think of a story you have heard that inspires you -- maybe something a friend told you or a grandparent, or a teacher, or someone you sat next to on a plane. Or maybe no one told you. Maybe you read it a book -- a story that, like a beautiful piece of music, you never get tired of hearing. Got it? Good.

9763152.jpg

The second kind of story I want you to remember is one of your own -- something that happened to you -- a memorable moment... a challenge overcome.. a lesson learned... almost dying... falling in love... the birth of a child... a chance encounter... like what happened to me in the back seat of the cab. Got it? Good.

Now, oh comrades of the newly forming Storytelling Revolution, if you are willing to share your story with someone in the next few days, I invite you to stand up. Go ahead, take a stand for story. Are you with me?

Cool. Stay standing.

You may be wondering how to begin. It's easy. There is only one sentence you need, one segue, to get the ball rolling when you're in a conversation. And it is this: "That reminds me of a story". As long as you are listening and the story you tell connects in some way to the conversation you're in, you are on your way.

And when you're done, give the person you're talking to the gift of your attention. Give them space to respond. Don't just hit and run now that your story has been told. Stay in the space your story opened up. Perhaps your story will remind them of a story they want to tell. And relax. You won't need lot of time for this. Just a few minutes is enough. After all, you'll watch the evening new for 30 minutes at a clip. All I'm asking for is ten. And with the other 20 minutes you will have saved? Have some fun. Or walk the dog. Or read my book.

In the revolution I'm inviting you to join, we're all on the front line -- the line called NOW. No one is injured. Everyone is healed. No one is killed. Everyone lives. Lives! Not just survives! LIVES -- and experiences what it truly means to be conscious, awake, and an active member of the world community of wise ones.

You in? That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

NOTE: My TED talk has not yet been given. Telling you the story of my future TED talk is my next step in creating it. Intention matters. Words matter. The stories we tell ourselves matter. Stay tuned!


Storytelling is the Trojan Horse of Wisdom

The Secret Code of Tacit Knowledge
Why Tell Stories?
What Kind of Stories Will You Tell Today?
The Art of Using Story to Communicate Big Ideas
Real Moments of Truth on the Job
My Podcasts, Videos, and Interviews on Storytelling
Storytelling at Work: My New Book

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:02 AM | Comments (1)

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:

MitchDitkoff.com
Click here for the simplest, most direct way, to learn more about Idea Champions' semi-fearless leader, Mitch Ditkoff. Info on his keynotes, workshops, conferences, and more.
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.
Top 5 Speaker
Mitch Ditkoff, the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions, has recently been voted a top 5 speaker in the field of innovation and creativity by Speakers Platform, a leading speaker's bureau.
Authorized Reseller Logo – GoLeanSixSigma.com
Workshops & Trainings
Highly engaging learning experiences that increase each participant's ability to become a creative force for positive change
Brainstorm Facilitation
High impact certification training that teaches committed change agents how to lead groundbreaking ideation sessions
Cultivating Innovation
Your "best and brightest" are the future leaders of your company, but unless they know how to foster a culture of innovation, their impact will be limited. A one-day workshop with us is all they need to begin this journey.
Our Blog Cabin
Our Heart of Innovation blog is a daily destination for movers and shakers everywhere — gleefully produced by our President, Mitch Ditkoff, voted "best innovation blogger in the world" two years running.
Team Innovation
Innovation is a team sport. Brilliant ideas go nowhere unless your people are aligned, collaborative, and team-oriented. That doesn't happen automatically, however. It takes intention, clarity, selflessness, and a new way of operating.
Webinars Powered by
Idea Champions University
Webinars for online training If you enjoy our blog, you will love our newly launched webinars! Our training is now accessible online to the whole world.
Awake at the Wheel, Book about big ideas If you're looking for a powerful way to jump start innovation and get your creative juices flowing, Awake at the Wheel is for you. Written by Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions.
Face the Music Blues Band The world's first interactive business blues band. A great way to help your workforce go beyond complaint.

"In tune with corporate America." — CNN
© IDEA CHAMPIONS