Storytelling at Work
January 31, 2018
Catching Up to What We Are

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We do not become healers.We came as healers. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are. We do not become storytellers. We came as carriers of the stories we and our ancestors actually lived. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are. We do not become artists. We came as artists. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are. We do not become writers.. dancers.. musicians.. helpers.. peacemakers. We came as such. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are. We do not learn to love in this sense. We came as Love. We are Love. Some of us are still catching up to who we truly are.

- A Simple Prayer for Remembering the Motherlode by Clarissa Pinkola

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2018
THE SPRICE OF FREEDOM: A Journey from Darkness to Light

_E2A1195.JPG "When you are going through hell, keep going." -- Winston Churchill

Sprice Drury is a woman who had it all -- a loving husband, a fabulous home, two horses, three acres, four dogs, a $350,000 year income, and the kind of fascinating work that allowed her to travel the world producing TV shows and documentaries. She was, in many ways, the poster child for success.

There was no indication, in 2012, that all of this was about to change -- a perfect storm of unexpected events that would not only turn her life upside down, but challenge every assumption she had about who she was and what life was all about.

It began with the decline of her husband's health, an illness eventually diagnosed as colon cancer. No one saw it coming. Not long after that, Ray lost his job. Then Sprice lost her job. Then, one-by-one, each of her dogs died. Four of them. With no health insurance, her husband returned to Australia, his native country, for treatment -- a turn of events that left Sprice alone in their 5,000 square foot house to manage the process of selling their high end possessions to pay the ever-mounting bills.

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First went Sprice's convertible. Then the tractor. Then the piano. Then her diamond wedding ring. But no matter how many possessions Sprice sold, it was never enough. The bills were just too much to keep up with. And the horses had to be fed.

At one point, the only thing to eat in the house were a few saltines and butter. A home that had once been alive with parties, people, and the finest of foods, was now empty and barren of life.

Bankruptcy court followed, as did several failed attempts to restructure her home loan -- a process that revealed the loan was fraudulent. More legal bills poured in. More time in court. More mind-numbing paperwork and the omnipresent threat of foreclosure. In the end, nothing in Sprice's power was enough to turn things around and the house was sold, in the middle of the night, on an online auction. Soon after that, Ray passed away from unexpected complications in surgery.

Not surprisingly, Sprice's own health soon began to decline. The cause? A hard-to-treat parasite she had picked up on one of her many global business trips.

Get the picture? Non-stop disappointment. Non-stop anxiety. And non-stop loss of everything that mattered to her -- a veritable dark night of the soul that most of us only read about, but never experience. Where once Sprice's husband and dogs were her daily companions, now it was only worry, fear, and hopelessness.

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Some people, when they encounter this level of stress turn to alcohol or drugs. Some give in to despair, depression, and despondency. Others, consumed with grief, end up taking their own lives.

Sprice Drury chose another path. Somehow, throughout it all, she found a way -- her way. It's not like she saw the proverbial light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. She didn't. For Sprice, the tunnel had long since been sold to pay the bills. In her darkest hours, there was no tunnel. And the light? Flickering far off in the distance and barely visible within.

And yet, this woman who lost it all, much like the phoenix, rose from the ashes. Stumbling her way forward, she found a way to not only get back on her feet, but fly.

As her long time teacher, Prem Rawat, once told her, "There is nothing wrong with falling down. Everybody falls down. The key is to pick something up when you're down there."

What follows is a short list of what Sprice picked up when she was down there -- ten life-changing lessons she learned along the way that may be of value to you the next time you find yourself over your head, under water, or otherwise stressed to the max.

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1. ACKNOWLEDGE WHAT'S HAPPENING: The first response most people have when caught off guard by unexpected troubles is denial. "This can't be happening to me," they think to themselves. "Not me. Not now." But while denial may temporarily protect us from feelings of inadequacy and the fear of being judged by others, it also prevents us from taking the steps we need to take in order to resolve our situation. Sprice, like the rest of humanity, went through her denial stage, especially early on, but then she went beyond it, acknowledging her situation and the need to act.

2. ASK FOR HELP: Shocked by the massive down turn of events in her life, Sprice's first instinct was to grin and bear it -- keeping most of her troubles to herself. Indeed, in the beginning of her saga, only a few friends and family knew what she was going through. And because most of them didn't, help was not as forthcoming as it could have been. In time, however, she asked for the help she needed and soon it started showing up -- emotional, psychological, physical, financial, and spiritual help.

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If you find yourself going through tough times, know that you don't need to go through them alone. While your concept of strength may be "toughing it out," often the most powerful expression of strength is to ask for help. Whose help do you need to ask for today? About what? A friend? A neighbor? A member of your family?

3. MANAGE YOUR MINDSET: Antoine St. Exupery, the author of The Little Prince, once said, "A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a person contemplates it with the image of a cathedral in mind." In other words, our experience of the challenges before us are often a function of our mindset. Sprice's initial mindset in response to the challenges before her was, understandably, an unholy cocktail of sadness, anxiety, fear, doubt, and confusion -- not exactly the kind of mindset that leads to successful outcomes. In time, exhausted by her struggles, Sprice made the decision to "see the rock pile with the image of a cathedral in mind." All around her house, she posted positive messages for herself -- one word reminders on the refrigerator, walls, mirrors. and anywhere else she might look. The message? BELIEVE! One word. That was it -- one word to contemplate several times a day to quicken the process of shifting her mindset for the better. Music also enabled her to manage her mindset and moods -- especially this song.
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4. ENVISION THE FUTURE YOU WANT: While Sprice's BELIEVE notes began to shift the way she thought about her future, her effort didn't end there. She also created vision boards throughout her house -- maps of better days ahead, complete with bold images of what it was she was trying to create. While Sprice's default condition may have been one of sadness, confusion, and grief, her vision boards spoke to her higher angels and the power of creating a new kind of future instead of obsessing about the past.

5. MAKE BEST USE OF YOUR AVAILABLE RESOURCES: Until the time when everything went South for Sprice, her most valuable possession had been her home -- a 5,000 square foot mansion that had been used for just one main purpose: to provide shelter for her, her husband, and their dogs. But now, with her husband and dogs gone, she needed to reconsider what "home" really meant and how it might provide for her needs in other ways.

That's when she got the idea to begin Fun in the Country, a dog boarding business that ended up providing shelter for 250 pooches -- much-needed companionship for her and a steady income.

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Yes, turning her home into a sanctuary for dogs, was a good start. But what about the owners of those dogs and others seeking shelter? That's when Sprice extended her boarding business to include people and thus began a thriving AirBnB business. Her third venture, a newly launched gourmet coffee business, fit right in. Both her Airbnb guests and the "doggie moms" ending up buying her coffee and tea -- a total win/win.

6. LET GO OF OLD ASSUMPTIONS: After years of a lifestyle that provided almost anything she wanted, Sprice's assumption was a simple one: All of her creature comforts would be provided for. And while this may have been true for a while, it wasn't a carved-in-stone reality. And because it wasn't, Sprice needed to take a fresh look at what her assumptions actually were -- the stakes in the ground she had planted before the ground beneath her feet collapsed. What are your biggest assumptions about your life? Which ones are likely to be toughest ones to let go of?

7. START A NEW PROJECT: Though not a physicist by profession, Sprice's ability to press through her challenges was very much related to Newton's First Law of Physics: "An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion." Translation? Get in gear! Get moving. Start something new -- especially if you find yourself becoming inert. Which is exactly what Sprice did. She started what turned out to become a very successful dog boarding business. She created an AirBnB business. And she began an International Distributorship of a Gourmet Coffee and Tea business. What inspiring, new project might you begin to help you create some positive momentum?

8. PUSH THROUGH THE PAIN: Though Sprice has never given birth to a child, she understood, like most mothers, what it took to "push through pain." Sprice's dark night of the soul, metaphorically speaking, was a way of giving birth to herself -- an act of courage that required a whole lot of pushing through pain. She didn't ask for a Caesarian. She didn't ask for drugs. She didn't give up. She just continued opening up and pushing through the obstacles before her until she gave birth to a whole new life for herself.

9. PAY IT FORWARD: Humbled by her trials and tribulations and newly attuned to a kind suffering she had never experienced before, Sprice began paying it forward even when her own finances were shaky. To begin with, she gave $2,000 to two young women who were supportive during her unexpected hardships. She also gave $1,000 to a local family who needed help after the Atlanta hurricane. Then she loaned money to a friend who had just lost her job. Inspired by a woman who had rescued an abandoned dog, Sprice donated her dog beds, dog toys, and dog crate. And, today, she continues looking for opportunities to lend a hand to anyone who may be experiencing the kind of stresses she endured. What can you do to pay it forward? Who, in need of help, might you support?

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10. LOOK INSIDE AND FIND YOURSELF: Yes, there were resources, on the outside, that Sprice tapped into during her tough times: the good will of friends, the love of her family, inspirational quotes, heart-opening music, and the ever-present BELIEVE signs she posted around her house. But in the end, it was her commitment to look within and connect to the source of peace inside herself that made all difference. This became her home, one that could never be foreclosed or dispossessed. When everything on the outside is going to hell in a hand basket, where do you go for solace and support? Where is your true home?

FOR YOUR REFLECTION: If you find yourself going through tough times, these days, what can you learn from Sprice's journey? Which of her ten insights can you apply to your life? And what can you do, today, to press through the pain and take a step into a bold new future for yourself?

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NOTE: Sprice's story is one of 22 "tough times" stories told by courageous, tenacious women in the newly published book: You Have No Idea: The Hell I've Been Through. Available for purchase online. A Spring and Summer Book Launch tour is in the process of being finalized and will include Dallas, New York City, Miami, and Indianapolis.

SPECIAL THANKS to the following friends and family of Sprice who provided loving support during her tough times: Ed and Andrea Trotta, Jim and Joan Levin, David and Debbie Sinensky, Evan Gusar, Ashley Alterman, Donald Beohner and Laurie Gordon. And a big shout out to two ladies who provided skillful and timely coaching: Sherry D. Fields and Irene Bettler.

TO CONTACT SPRICE:
-- spricedrury@mac.com
-- Instagram
-- Facebook
-- LinkedIn
-- Twitter
-- AllAboutYouGlobal (coaching)
-- The Gourmet Coffee business
-- Fun in the Country (dog boarding)

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:19 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2018
Choose to Tell Stories that Awaken, Inspire, and Heal

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The sign this young woman is holding tells a story -- one that is becoming increasing painful to me, as an American citizen. Has it come to this in the "land of the free and the home of the brave" where millions of people are being marginalized because they don't fit the plot that rules the tale being told by the ruling class?

Not only have all the groups noted on this woman's sign been marginalized, in some strange "he who tells the story rules the world" kind of way, they have been turned into villains.

Really? Because they LOOK different than those in power? Because they have different beliefs? Because they don't pay a lot of taxes? I implore you, as a human being, reader of this blog, and someone who knows that the stories we tell have the power to change the narrative on Planet Earth, not to buy into the story being spun, these days, by the ruling class.

ALL LIFE IS SACRED! ALL HUMAN BEINGS COME FROM THE SAME SOURCE! WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER! And isn't it interesting to note that the indigeneous people around the world -- many of whom are our most deeply connected keepers of wisdom -- are being silenced and abused by the so-called "powers-that-be"?

And so, by the power invested in me by my Creator, I invite you to take a stand for love and peace, brotherhood and sisterhood. See God in everyone. And if you don't believe in God, then at least treat your fellow human beings with kindness, compassion, and respect. The next time someone tells you a story which you know is unhinged -- spoken for no other reason than to dominate, manipulate, and control -- SPEAK UP! STAND YOUR GROUND! BE THE LIVING MORAL OF EARTH'S REAL STORY!

Without demonizing the other (that's how wars start), take a deep breath, let go of your need to be right, and tell a different story.

What kind of story will you tell today?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 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.

One day, Mr. Peters was having lunch at the dining room of the University, and Gandhi came along with his tray and sat next to the professor.

The professor said, "Mr. Gandhi, you do not understand. A pig and a bird do not sit together to eat."

Gandhi looked at him as a parent would a rude child and calmly replied, "You do not worry professor. I'll fly away," and he went and sat at another table.

Mr. Peters, reddened with rage, decided to take revenge on the next test paper, but Gandhi responded brilliantly to all questions.

Mr. Peters, unhappy and frustrated, asked him the following question. "Mr. Gandhi, if you were walking down the street and found a package and within was a bag of wisdom and another bag with a lot of money, which one would you take?"

Without hesitating, Gandhi responded, "The one with the money, of course."

Mr. Peters, smiling sarcastically, said, "I, in your place, would have taken wisdom."

Gandhi shrugged indifferently and responded, "Each one takes what he doesn't have."

Mr. Peters, by this time, was beside himself and so great was his anger that he wrote on Gandhi's exam sheet the word "IDIOT" and gave it to Gandhi.

Gandhi took the exam sheet and sat down at his desk trying very hard to remain calm while he contemplated his next move.

A few minutes later, Gandhi got up, went to the professor and said to him in a dignified but sarcastically polite tone, "Mr. Peters, you signed the sheet, but you did not give me the grade."

My book on storytelling
MitchDitkoff.com
Another story about resolving differences

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January 24, 2018
Steve Jobs on Storytelling

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MitchDitkoff.com

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January 21, 2018
A Different Way to Close a Sale

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Anyone who owns a business, whether they've been to business school or not, knows one thing: You need customers. No customers, no business. How you get customers, of course, is the question.

In my business, one of the main ways to get business is responding to RFPs -- requests for proposals. Here's how it works: a company hears about you, checks out your website, contacts you, schedules a call, tries to figure out if you're the real deal and, if you pass their sniff test, asks you to submit a proposal.

In the beginning of my career, I would get very excited whenever anyone asked me to submit an RFP. It meant I had a big one on the line, a horse in the race, my hat in the ring, or whatever other metaphor I could conjure up to reinforce my belief that I was actually going to make a living. Like a beanie wearing college freshman, I dove into the proposal writing process with great zeal.

In time, however, responding to RFPs made me cranky. I came to learn that only one in ten proposals would make the grade and that the other nine, which I had so diligently crafted, were merely my response to bogus fishing expeditions from the client. Either they had already decided on their vendor, were testing the waters, wanted to get free insights, or were merely on the hunt for the low cost provider.

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So when MTV Networks called, I was betwixt and between. Do I play the game and spend the better part of my day writing a proposal or do walk my talk and do something different?

Since I'd already done some work for MTV, I decided the time was right to experiment, so I asked myself a question: "How can I radically reduce the time it takes me to write a proposal that gets results?" The answer came quickly -- the TWO WORD proposal. In 200 point type, I wrote the words "TRUST US" with an asterisk after the "S" -- and, at the bottom of the page, in 8 point type, noted our fee. That was it. Two words and a bottom line.

On the day my proposal was due, I walked into the office of MTV's CFO, Jim Shaw. After the ritual chit chat and cup of coffee, he asked me if I had the proposal.

"Yes, I do, Jim. But first let me ask you a question. 'Do you get a lot of proposals?'"

He laughed, pointing to a huge stack on his desk.

"And do you like reading proposals?"

Jim looked at me as if I had asked him to stick forks in his eyes.

"Good!" I said. "Then there's a good chance you will love my proposal. But in order to give it to you, I need to get further away from you."

And with that warning, I began backing away across the room. When I got as far away as possible, I stopped and held my proposal in the air.

Even from across the room, Jim could read my two words: TRUST US! Smiling, he beckoned me forward, took the proposal from my hands, lowered his eyes to the bottom line, and extended his hand.

"You got a deal," he said.

Two words in big bold type and a bottom line. That's all it took. Two minutes. Not two hours.

FOR YOUR REFLECTION: "We have 60,000 thoughts per day," said Deepak Chopra. "Unfortunately, all of them are ones we had the day before." That's how most human beings roll. Creatures of habit, we find a groove and stay in it until it becomes a rut. Then it's so deep, we have a hard time getting out of it, so we decorate our walls with Dilbert cartoons and pictures of our last vacation.

Sometimes, we need to do something different. Will this "something different" work every time? No, it won't. But it will work sometimes. My two-word proposal was the perfect thing for MTV. It wouldn't have been the perfect thing for a new client or the IRS, but for MTV it got the job done.

NOW WHAT? Think of a proposal, pitch, or presentation you need to make in the next few weeks. On one side of a piece of paper, write down all the reasonable things you can do to get the gig. Then, on the flip side, write down all the unreasonable things -- new approaches, new ideas, and new ways to make your case. After you write your first wave of unreasonable approaches, write your second wave. Then pick one of them and go for it. Inspiration for you.

Excerpted from Storytelling at Work.
Idea Champions
Mitch Ditkoff

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:50 AM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2018
A Father and Daughter Story

From StoryCorp
A story about my daughter, Mimi

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January 18, 2018
Alan Rickman on Storytelling

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Exhibit "A"
Storytelling for the Revolution
Workshop: Innovation and Storytelling
MitchDitkoff.com

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January 16, 2018
One Stop Shopping for Links on the Art & Science of Storytelling

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If you are interested in the power of storytelling to engage, inspire, and spark the transfer of insight, knowledge, and wisdom you have come to the right place. Below are links to a variety of recent articles of mine and other story-mavens who inspire me on this most important topic.

Awesome quotes on storytelling
Storytelling is the trojan horse of wisdom
How to use storytelling to foster employee engagement

How to spark massive employee engagement in 90 minutes or less
The irresistible power of storytelling as a strategic business tool
Harnessing the power of storytelling
Jean Houston on the urgent need for transformative storytelling
Why your brain likes a good story
What stories will you tell?
How to tell a good story
Why create a culture of storytelling?
Radio interview: Storytelling as a way to change a culture
New storytelling blog
Wisdom circles
My recently published book on storytelling
Why did I write my book on storytelling?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:58 PM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2018
The Library Where You Borrow People (& their stories), Not Books!

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How cool is this! A library where you don't borrow books, but people. Instead of reading a book about a topic you want to know more about, you actually "borrow" a person who has mastery on that topic and the two of you sit down and talk. They share their stories and knowledge. You listen and ask questions. Another great example of the power of personal storytelling. Brilliant!

Photo from Unplash (high quality, free photos)
Storytelling at Work
MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:20 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2018
Storytelling at Work Podcast

13243667_1006058016179629_5443324524480421443_o.jpg Are you interested in the topic of storytelling -- especially storytelling in the workplace? Got 36 minutes? Breathing? Ever eaten a piece of cheese?

If so, this Innovation Engine podcast hosted by Will Sherlin and featuring yours truly (Mitch Ditkoff) will float your boat.

"The world is not made of atoms. It is made of stories." -- Muriel Rukeyser


MitchDitkoff.com
Storytelling at Work
Storytelling for the Revolution

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January 06, 2018
How Your Process of Creating Stories Can Be More Creative

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So... you want to write or tell stories? Fantastic. But how can you ensure that your writing or telling is as creative as possible and not just the "same old, same old?" What follows is a list of 20 tips to keep you operating at the highest octave of your creative potential:


1. Identify what blocks your creativity:
When Michelangelo was asked how he made his iconic statue, The David, he explained, "I simply took away everything that wasn't." From his point of view, the statue was already in the stone. All he had to do was remove what obscured it. What is in your way of telling or writing your stories? What can you do, this week, to remove this clutter?

2. Immerse: Creative people have a unique ability to dive in and stay with a project for long stretches of time. They don't just hit and run. Instead, they get absorbed. That's why Einstein once said, "It's not that I'm so smart. It's just that I stay with problems longer." How can you make more time to really dive into your storytelling project?

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3. Reframe failure: Creative people are less afraid of making mistakes than most people. They understand that many experiments are needed and that trial and error comes with the territory. When Thomas Edison was asked how it felt to fail 800 times before coming up with tungsten as the filament for the light bulb, his reply said it all: "Fail? I didn't fail once. I learned 800 times, what didn't work." How can you create more "storytelling experiments" in your life?

4. Go beyond your limiting assumptions: Often, the suppositions we make at the beginning of a project are completely bogus -- a strange concoction of our past experiences, false beliefs, and personal myths. Innovators have a knack for being less bound by limiting assumptions than most people. Their state of open-mindedness allows them to explore bold, new territories. What is your biggest limiting assumption about being a storyteller? What can you do to go beyond it?

5. Stay inspired: I know of very few depressed or despondent people who are consistently creative. And while it's true, that creative people can sometimes get depressed or despondent, they don't stay in that space for very long, realizing that a positive mindset is one of the keys to their success. What is the simplest way you can stay inspired as you proceed with your storytelling project?

6. Ask WHAT IF: Asking powerful questions is a great way to enter into a creative mindset, one that is infused with curiosity. And of all the questions you can ask, asking "What if?" is the most powerful. What if you weren't afraid to fail? How would that affect the choices before you? What are three other "what if" questions you might ask yourself?

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7. Make connections between seemingly disparate elements: One of the qualities of a creative thinker is the ability to synthesize -- to see new relationships between this, that and the other thing. MTV, for example, is nothing more than the result of someone seeing a new connection between music and television. Drive-in banking? A new connection between cars and banks. What new connections can you make between seemingly unrelated elements of your project? List all the elements of it, then look for intriguing new connections between them.

8. See through others' eyes: One of the biggest obstacles to creativity is our odd little habit of viewing everything through our own eyes/lenses/filters. Addicted to our own point of view, we develop a weird kind of tunnel vision. The simplest way to free your self from this constraint is to look at your storytelling project through the eyes of someone else. How would Mohammed proceed if he was in charge? Rosa Parks? Richard Branson? Lady Gaga? What clues about proceeding do get from their approaches?

9. Pay attention to your subconscious mind: Ideas come to us from two places: the conscious mind (i.e. brainstorming, thinking, planning) and the subconscious mind (i.e. dreaming, intuition). Most great ideas seem to come to people from the subconscious mind, when they are taking a break from the problem at hand and not trying so hard. Where and when do your best ideas come to you? How can you honor these ideas more than you currently do?

10. Suspend logic and linearity: Most of us are rational beings. Our default condition is logic and linearity. But there is another part of us, too -- the free thinker, the dreamer, the one who likes to play with possibilities, often called "right brain thinking". How can you suspend your tendency to allow logic and linearity to dominate your life? How can you make more time to play around with possibilities?

11. Trust your instincts, intuitions, and hunches: Albert Einstein once said, "Not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted, counts." Indeed, when he got stuck, he used to conduct what he called "thought experiments", a fancy name for daydreaming. Bottom line, he trusted his hunches more than most of us do. What are your instincts and intuitions telling you about your emerging storytelling project?

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12. Entertain the fantastic: Gary Kasparov, the former Soviet Union Grand Chess Master, had the ability to strategize 26 moves ahead. But when, in 1989, he was asked what enabled him to beat Big Blue, IBM's mainframe computer, in a two game chess match, he attributed his success to "the ability to fantasize". Einstein, too, was a big proponent of fantasizing and once said "the ability to fantasize has meant more to me than my ability to absorb positive knowledge." How can you make more time, in your life, for blue sky thinking?

13. Collaborate: Some people assume that creativity is the result of a lone wolf genius inhabiting an ivory tower and returning to the "marketplace" with a brilliant breakthrough. And while this sometimes happens, it is mostly a myth. Often, creativity is sparked by being in relationship with other people -- jamming, brainstorming, and playing around with new ideas. How can you increase the amount of creative collaboration in your life? Who, specifically, can you invite to be one of your collaborators?

14. Have more fun: This just in! "Aha" and "Haha" are very much related. In the aha moment, the person with the insight ends up surprised about a given outcome. He/she is "dislocated" from their common assumptions, i.e. Archimedes in the bathtub. The haha moment is similar. Indeed, the reason why most of us laugh is because our expectations get disrupted. Creativity and humor are joined at the hip. Get too serious and you diminish the odds of creativity flourishing. In what ways can you infuse your creative process with more playfulness and humor?

15. Look for happy accidents: Do you know what penicillin, Post-It Notes, and Velcro have in common? They were all the results of accidents in the lab. None of them were the result of a brainstorming session or strategic plan. But instead of being dismissed as mistakes, the innovators associated with these discoveries, got curious. They played around with these unanticipated occurrences until they discovered their commercial value. Indeed, research indicates that 75% of all product and service breakthroughs are the results of serendipity, surprise, and happy accidents. What curious insights have you stumbled upon recently that the logical part of your mind may have dismissed as inconsequential?

16. Change environments: Sometimes, the simplest way to spark creativity is to change environments. Socrates knew this. That's why he invented his "Peripatetic School of Education" -- a way to get his students to walk the talk. This is why so many of us get our best ideas during or after exercising. Where can you go to refresh and renew yourself whenever you are feeling stuck?

17. Be comfortable with ambiguity: Creating something new is not a function of a predictable, sequential process. It often requires lots of time spent not knowing or being confused. Ambiguity comes with the territory. If you are not mindful of this phenomenon, you will likely grab onto the "first right idea" to settle yourself down. This is not a good idea. In what ways can you give yourself more permission to be uncomfortable as you proceed with your storytelling project?

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18. Acknowledge your progress: Creating something new is often frustrating. Results don't always come quickly. Consequently, aspiring innovators tend to get discouraged and enter into a cranky mindset. Inspiration, optimism, and positivity go out the window. The simplest way to neutralize this phenomenon is to take a few minutes at the end of each day to acknowledge the progress you have made, no matter how small. Think about your emerging storytelling project. What progress have you made on it today? This week? This month?

19. Give and receive feedback: Often, aspiring innovators are on the right track, but their addiction to "being right" gets in the way. What they need to do in order to open up their creativity is get feedback from people they trust. Unfortunately, this happens infrequently. All too often, we interpret feedback as criticism, so we don't ask for it. In what ways can you get more feedback about your storytelling telling project? Who can you ask today?

20. Honor your polarities: People who want to be more creative, would love there to be some kind of blueprint or map. Guess what? There isn't And even if there was, it would include lots of contradictory directions. That's because the act of "being creative" is often a contradictory process, which is why Niels Bohr, the Nobel-prize winning physicist, once said: "Now that we have met with paradox, we have some hope of making progress." The creative process is not an either/or phenomenon. It is both. Which of the following polarities do you toggle back and forth between?

-- Patience/impatience
-- Solitude/collaboration
-- Urgency/relaxation
-- Seriousness/playfulness
-- Divergence/convergence

What other polarities do you experience in your creative process? What can you do to honor them more than you currently do?

Excerpted from my forthcoming book, to be published in May.
MitchDitkoff.com
My storytelling workshop

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

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.

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