Storytelling at Work
March 31, 2020
ONCE UPON A CORONAVIRUS: Telling Stories Calms Anxieties

mark-zamora-mFqAeaZgWO8-unsplash.jpg

Here is a wonderful, timely, wise, and practical blog post for parents from the folks who wrote How to Tell Stories to Children. If you are experiencing the challenges of self-isolation, lock down, or quarantining with your young kids, this one's for you!

AN EXCERPT: "As coronavirus spreads and schools close their doors, parents are feeling anxious. Social distancing and empty shelves have us gasping for normalcy. We need skills for handling the disease, but we also need tools for managing the anxiety that treads in its footsteps. Storytelling is a time-tested way to do that, and scientists have collected many of the reasons why.

Stories help us redirect and center our attention -- something that is especially useful in the wake of media reports. As politicians and journalists battle for the narrative of the coronavirus, parents are engaged in a different battle -- the narrative in our children's hearts. By telling a story, we provide a common narrative for the whole family, something that young children especially need."

How storytelling builds attachment

Helping children understand the moral of a story
Ditch the grammar and start teaching storytelling
Storytelling for big kids -- like YOU, for example

Photo: Mark Zamora, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:34 AM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2020
Enjoy Family Wisdom Story Circles in the Age of the Coronavirus

near3.jpg

This just in from Tanja Kubitza, one of Al Siraat College's front office staffers who recently participated in a three-hour Wisdom (storytelling) Circle training and then, God bless Tanja, applied what she learned by hosting a Wisdom Circle in her own home, with her own family! If you are currently self-isolated, locked down, or quarantined in your home, today would be a great time to follow Tanja's example. At the end of her story, below, I have noted some simple guidelines to increase the odds of your home Wisdom Circle being as beneficial as possible.

And now, here's what Tanja has to say:

"I would like to share with you that I had my first go at facilitating a mini Wisdom Circle at home last night. Earth Hour 2020 provided the perfect background setting to gather my small family tribe around the campfire of candles in our living room.

Tanja cnadles.jpg

At the commencement of Earth Hour at 8:30 pm, we turned off all the lights and power inside the house and came together, in the living room, to reflect on the last couple of days. We started off with some remembrance of God (dhikr) as 'verily, in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest.' (Qur'an 3:28)

We then shared stories of previous times when we were cut off from power for several days in the middle of winter and how we overcame those cold days by the kindness of friends dropping off food and hot drinks while we had no power to cook or access to our tank water which was supplied by electric pump only. The kids remembered doing their homework by candlelight and how I read an entire book to them night after night with them providing me torchlight.

Earth Hour was only meant to last for 60 minutes, but we kept on talking way past 9.30 pm, with my teenage daughters asking me not to turn the lights back on so we could enjoy the candles instead.

"It's so beautiful, serene and peaceful, mom," they said.

After some time, we all fell quiet, without it being an uncomfortable or awkward silence, but rather one of quiet contemplation while being in each other's company.

We have extended Earth Hour to become a regular event in our family.

Last night, my daughters asked me to switch off the lights, again, in favor of candlelight and more storytelling for a few hours until almost midnight. We shared fun stories of our own times at school, back in the day, and some of the mischief we got into."

SIMPLE GUIDELINES FOR FAMILY WISDOM CIRCLES

1. Create a cozy space to meet, ideally in a circle.
2. If you have a fireplace, light a fire. If not, candles are great.
3. One person plays the role of "facilitator."
4. Storytelling is voluntary. No pressure!
5. Five-minute limit for storytelling
6. Consider featuring storytelling themes to prime the pump.
7. When you're not telling a story, you are listening
8. Turn off all cell phones and devices
9. At the end of each story, unpack the story. Ask the storyteller a question... or request more elaboration... or talk about what the story means to you.
10. Cookies! Popcorn! Tea! Juice! Marshmellows! Chocolate!

What is a Wisdom Circle?
Storytelling as a nest, haven, and home base
You have wisdom to share and it is hiding in your stories
My teenage daughter, me, and storytelling
What stories will you tell today?

Campell2.jpg

GibranWC2.jpg

moore3.jpg

If you want to participate in one or more FREE online Wisdom Circles, send me an email with "Online Wisdom Circles" in the subject line and I will forward you the schedule as soon as it's ready.

Who am I?
MY BOOK: Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:08 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2020
ANNOUNCING: Free Online Wisdom (storytelling) Circles

OConnor 13.jpg

Sitting here in my self-isolated, social-distanced bedroom in Epping, Australia, I am asking myself (like a lot of people I know), "how can I be of service" during these highly challenging Coronavirus times.

One thing I can do is host a series of online Wisdom Circles -- a simple way for people to share their meaningful, memorable, life-affirming stories with each other.

For the past three years, I've been leading face-to-face Wisdom Circles in Mexico, Australia, and the United States. Response has been very positive. Now the time has come to go virtual, at least until social distancing comes to an end.

Each Wisdom Circle will be 90 minutes long, via ZOOM. And for now, they are free.

If you want to participate, send me an email (mitch@ideachampions.com) and I will forward you the schedule and the storytelling themes for the evening.

What stories will you tell today?
You have wisdom to share and it is hiding in your stories
My recent book on storytelling

GibranWC.jpg

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)

EXTRAORDINARY EDUCATION: Learning in a Graveyard

An inspiring 12-minute talk, with two very powerful stories, by Mufti Aasim Rashid, Director of Islamic Education and Studies at Al Siraat College in Epping, Australia.

Al Siraat YouTube channel
Aussie interfaith Wisdom Circles
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:45 AM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2020
Rocking Back and Forth on the Front Porch of Life

arifur-rahman-mRsd40OYt-M-unsplash.jpg

This morning, I remembered a moment from 50 years ago that is quite relevant to the challenging times we now find ourselves living in.

I was 22, sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of a house on Martha's Vineyard. As I sat there, the four-year old son of the couple who owned the house, came running past me. He was sobbing uncontrollably and I felt an undeniable urge to comfort him.

"Bobby," I said, reaching his way, lifting him up, and placing him onto my lap, "What's wrong, my little friend?" And the two of us just sat there, rocking back and forth together for a while, Bobby slowly calming down.

And then, just a few minutes later, his six-year old brother, Timmy, came running by. He was also sobbing, the same kind of super-sad tears Bobby had been crying just a little while ago.

"Timmy," I said, reaching towards him. "Come on over here with your brother and me. It's all going to be just fine, whatever it is."

And so, now, the three of us were rocking back and forth on that front porch, Timmy's tears soon ending, as well.

My job was a simple one, to hold the boys in my arms, continue rocking, and share some words of comfort. We continued that way for another few minutes and then, much to my surprise, their mother appeared from the back of the house. She was also sobbing.

The same part of me that had reached out to the two boys just minutes before also wanted to reach out to her, but I noticed I had no more lap left and my arms were full. I was totally maxed. So I just looked up and did my best to comfort her with words.

Yes, both of my arms were occupied, but I could feel my heart reaching out. I cannot say, for sure, if it made it all the way to her, or if she received whatever I was sending out, but it felt good to make the effort, really good -- Bobby, Timmy, and I continuing to rock back and forth together, on that front porch, for what seemed like forever.

These, my friends, I do believe, are the times we are now living in. We are all on that front porch, so many of the people around us asking for comfort and support. While our laps might not be large enough for everyone and while our arms may already be full, we can still reach out. We can still comfort those in need. We can still, in a thousand different ways, extend our hearts in the direction of those who are needing support. Kindness is what's needed these days, my friends. Kindness and empathy. Kindness and generosity, love, patience, courage, and a whole lot of compassion -- in whatever form it takes.

And you can begin this very moment with the people on your own front porch.

More comfort here
Photo by Arifur Rahman on Unsplash

Kindness is contagious.jpg

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:10 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2020
AUDIO STORY: On Being Visited By an Angel

Arcanum 6.JPG

Full disclosure: I have never been a person who believed in angels. Angels, to me, were merely poetic metaphors, the etheric embodiments of hard-to-describe feelings that some religiously-inclined people experienced when betwixt and between -- some kind of fairy tale mix of loneliness, love, and longing for something beyond what their own two eyes could see.

Hovering somewhere between God and the Easter Bunny, angels struck me as nothing more than projections, the astral version of what imaginative children have been inventing for centuries -- "invisible friends." That all changed for me one unforgettable night in 1974.

Here's the audio story of that experience.

Excerpted from Storytelling for the Revolution
Artwork: Asandra Lamb

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:54 AM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2020
Want to Listen to a Story?

npr_storycorps_podcasttile_sq-bcee355f5bf84aff4b9f926a850503a8141de1eb.jpg

If you're in the mood to listen to some inspiring stories, here's a treasure trove, courtesy of StoryCorps. Enjoy!

Or, if you prefer to read a book of stories, here's one

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

The Upside of Down Under Interfaith Wisdom Circles

20200321_184049 (1).jpg

This just in from Margaret Hartley, a deeply dedicated member of the Whittlesea Interfaith Network, 36 km outside of Melbourne, Australia. Margaret was one of eight members of WIN who participated in the March 16th Wisdom Circle hosted by Al Siraat College and faciliated by yours truly.

"The Interfaith Wisdom Circle was transformative. Although we were from different faiths, I found it easy to open up and tell a personal story to the group, some of whom I had not met before. Through the sharing of stories we formed strong connections of trust and mutual understanding. The experience of the Wisdom Circle has demonstrated to me the power of sharing stories and the wisdom that is latent within each of us and which can be unlocked in this supportive environment."

What others are saying about Wisdom Circles
Storytelling as nest and home base
Learn to facilitate Wisdom Circles
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2020
Why Your Brain Likes a Good Story

hbr logo_cf3c3819-f5d4-454e-8c08-2b0b1be38c22.png

Lucid, Harvard Business Review article on why your brain likes stories. Oxytocin anyone?

Storytelling at Work
Oxytocin-generating book excerpts

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2020
SILVER LINING STORY #1: Finding Our Common Humanity

20200319_151936.jpg

This just in from the totally wonderful Julian West in Kathmandu.

As countries worldwide slam shut their borders and condemn millions of us to enforced and self-enforced isolation, something wonderful is happening. A new sense of humanity, fueled not only by natural compassion, but the knowledge that from Beijing to Bologna, from Seoul to San Francisco, we are all going through the same thing. The Big C is here, everywhere, and it could be coming for us, too.

All of us are worried: about our health, the health of our friends and families, our communities; our livelihoods and those of others; our ability to survive. Governments everywhere have proved themselves inadequate, in many different ways, to coping with this crisis. In a matter of days, countries like Britain are melting down: the ragged state of the safety nets designed to protect people, but torn apart by decades of government cuts, exposed. We have a health service that can't respond; employers that either cannot or will not pay sick leave; supermarkets whose supply chains have broken under the weight of human fear.

But we also know that ALL of us are experiencing this. And from that shared experience is blossoming something rare and precious: community, humanity, compassion, and kindness.

I belong to Nextdoor, one of many neighbourhood groups, usually carrying notices for workmen, or local news and tips. For the last two or three weeks the site has filled with offers to help elderly people; links to volunteer groups; tips to stay healthy and fed; compassionate words of support and advice for the sick or scared -- of whom there are many. It helps people feel less isolated. To feel they are not alone. For indeed we are not.

The other silver lining to this dark cloud hanging over us all is the improved environment. For the first time in years, in Beijing you can see the sun. Smoggy grey skies are now blue. In Kathmandu where I live for much of the time, streets are clean of cars; the magnificent Himalayas are out in full glory; we can breathe.

These are just some of the ways this crisis is helping us: to find our common humanity, to see the glory of the beautiful world we live in; to offer, as a counterpoint to dystopia, something truly divine.

-- Julian West

How to submit a silver lining story to this blog

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:09 AM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2020
A Call for Silver Lining Stories

You have a story8.jpg

Mother Teresa once said, "If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."

Towards that end, I am inviting you and anyone else reading this post, to send me ONE "silver lining story" you've heard (or been a part of) that relates to the coronavirus outbreak. And by "silver lining story," I'm referring to examples of the unsung spread of kindness, love, neighborliness, selflessness, giving, care, goodness, tenderness, compassion, hope, heroism, and beyond-the-call-of-duty benevolence that is also happening in the world during these difficult times.

Arendt3.jpg

Maybe it's something you witnessed in your town, village, or community. Maybe it's something you read on the internet... or heard about... or saw on television. Maybe it's a project you are a part of or a "good deed" that blew your mind. You decide.

What I'm attempting to do on this blog is feature these kind of stories at a time when we need to balance the bad news with the good.

I'm not suggesting that you ignore the stark coronavirus updates we need to pay attention to or candy coat reality. All I'm suggesting is that we call more attention to inspiring examples of the what's possible when people go beyond fear, reach out, and express the very best of what it means to be a human being -- truth in action.

And one of the simplest ways to do this is via storytelling.

Not fiction. Fact. Real, living, breathing examples of how human beings are rising to the occasion.

If you decide to submit a story, please keep it to 500 words or less and include 1-3 photos or images. Please only send images for which you own the copyright. I am not guaranteeing that I will publish all the stories I receive. But I will do my best to read them and choose some to feature on this blog. NOTE: By submitting your story, you are granting me the right to edit it, as needed, for publication. Wash your hands!

SEND STORY SUBMISSIONS TO: mitch@ideachampions.com

Gibran15.jpg

Hillman2.jpg

Aftel4.jpg

dinesen2.jpg

ruk2.jpg

What story will you tell today?

What kind of stories people want to tell
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2020
Aussie Interfaith Wisdom Circles

IMG_3710.JPG

Yes, these are very difficult times we find our selves now living in -- many of our assumptions, concepts, and beliefs challenged to the core. And yet, even in the midst of so much change, chaos, and confusion, there is also the possibility of clarity, community, and consciousness.

As Leonard Cohen once said. "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."

IMG_3708.jpg

Yesterday, at Al Siraat College (a K-12 school, in Melbourne, where I have been working for a month), I had the blessed opportunity to facilitate a Wisdom Circle for four members of the school and four members of the Whittlesea Interfaith Network. In attendance were five Muslims, two Christians, and two Jews. Their countries of origin? Australia, Pakistan, Germany, India, and the United States.

For two hours, the nine of us shared memorable, meaningful moments of truth with each other, in the form of personal stories that confirmed our humanity, sacred connection with each other, and the undeniable fact that, no matter what our outward differences might be, inwardly we are all the same.

That's just one of the powers of storytelling. It affirms and amplifies the very best of human nature.

Tomorrow, I will reconvene with these fine folks to teach them how to facilitate Wisdom Circles in their own homes, communities, and organizations. Know this, my friends: In the midst of worldwide meltdown, shutdown, stress, challenge, weirdness, and fear there is also light, love, kinship, hope, and learning. Or at least the possibility of it. Our choice. Always.

IMG_3707.jpg

IMG_3700.jpg

IMG_3711.jpg

IMG_3697.jpg

What people are saying about Wisdom Circles
Online Wisdom Circle facilitation training
You have wisdom to share

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2020
The True Meaning of Composure

This scene from Titanic completely knocks me out. As the ship is going under, four classical musicians, on the main deck, gather together, with complete composure, to play "Nearer My God to Thee." There is something for all of us to learn from this scene, especially these days, with all of the "sinking feelings" going on.

Composure from a martial arts master
Storytelling for the Revolution
You are a universe of stories

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:15 AM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2020
WHAT IS A WISDOM CIRCLE?

Jobs12.jpg

A Wisdom Circle is a lightly facilitated, personal storytelling gathering -- a chance for 6-12 friends, neighbors, colleagues, or co-workers, in a relaxed setting, to share their meaningful, memorable, real-life stories with each other -- usually focusing on a few pre-selected themes. Storytelling is voluntary. Some participants may choose to tell one or more stories. Others, may simply listen and get inspired. There are many benefits to a Wisdom Circle:

-- Builds connection, trust, and community
-- Gives participants an engaging chance to have a voice
-- Enables people to share the best of their best practices
-- Inspires, awakens, empowers, and energizes
-- Transmits insight, wisdom, and tacit knowledge
-- Accelerates positive behavior change

A Wisdom Circle is not a class, seminar, workshop, or lecture. It's more participatory than any of those formats -- a way for people to share their own life-lessons with each other, through the medium of story, in a supportive, non-judgmental environment. Bottom line, it's a no-pressure get together where real listening and peer-to-peer learning happens.

caveman boardroom12.jpg

Testimonials
You have wisdom to share
What a story is not
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling at Work
How I connected with an Islamic school in Australia
You are a universe of stories
Storytelling as nest, home base, and safe haven
Why human beings tell stories
Ten reasons why people don't tell their stories

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:39 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2020
Welcome to the First Interspecies Book Marketing Campaign

12342379_10153359550391158_6181086655791305066_n.jpg

The book Chili recommends
If you don't believe my dog
A story from the book
Other dogs who also like the book
The Amazon reviews of the book

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2020
Good Leaders Tell Stories That Help People Trust Them with Power

Plan A:B.jpg

Are you a leader trying gain the trust of the people you lead? While there are many ways to approach this bold challenge, one of the simplest and most effective ways is storytelling. Abraham Lincoln was a master of the craft and, indeed, many historians claim this is what enabled him to distinguish himself from others aspiring to be President of the United States at the time. Read about it here. Plus more.

Idea Champions
Mastering storytelling in the workplace
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2020
Is That So?

ZenRock.jpg

Once upon a time, many years ago, before the invention of Starbucks, Velcro, or Fructose, there lived a humble monk in a remote monastery in China. His name was Wan Loo and he was much beloved by everyone he met, dedicated, as he was to realizing the highest truth with every fiber of his being.

Every morning, he meditated with the other monks in the Central Hall, then ate breakfast, washed his bowl, and worked in the garden for the rest of the day, taking brief moments now and again to read the sutras and teach calligraphy to the younger monks. Life was simple for Wan Loo. And very fulfilling. He couldn't have imagined a better life.

One day, in the 17th year of his monastic life, while cultivating radishes in the upper garden, he found himself being approached by the venerable Abbot and three of the local townspeople -- a husband, wife, and their very pregnant 16-year old daughter.

"That's him!" the girl cried out, pointing to the monk "He's the one who did this to me! Him!"

Wan Loo, still weeding the radishes, looked up slowly, smiled, and uttered just three words: "Is that so?"

And with that, the Abbot, a stern expression on his face, began to speak. "It is time for you to leave the monastery, young man. It is time. You have broken one of our most sacred vows. Now go!"

And just like that, Wan Loo was exiled from the only home he had ever known.

For the next five years, he lived in a small hut far away from the monastery. Each day he woke at 4:00 am, meditated, and then from dawn to dusk, dug graves in a nearby cemetery to make the money he needed to buy milk for the little boy the people of the region had now come to call "the young monk's son."

Wan Loo continued with his life. He never complained. He never took a day off. And he never stopped meditating.

Then, one summer day, in the fifth year of his exile, while cultivating a few tomato plants just outside his hut, he looked up and saw the young girl, her parents, the Abbot, and the now five-year old boy all standing over him.

"Mother and father," began the young girl, in between tears. "The time has come for me to speak the truth. It was not the monk. It was a boy I met in the fish market. He was the one. He is the father of my son."

Big silence. Big, big silence. No one spoke, The young monk just sat there, looking up, a ripe tomato in his left hand.

"Is that so?" he said.

Adapted from an ancient Zen story

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2020
What Is a Wisdom Circle?

moore2.jpg

A Wisdom Circle is a lightly facilitated, personal storytelling gathering -- a chance for 3-12 people, in a relaxed setting, to share their meaningful, memorable, real-life stories with each other -- usually focusing on a few pre-selected themes. Storytelling is voluntary. Some participants may choose to tell one or more stories. Others, may simply listen and get inspired. There are many benefits to a Wisdom Circle:

-- Builds connection and community
-- Increases empathy, confidence, and self-awareness
-- Provides an engaging forum for self-expression
-- Inspires, awakens, empowers, and energizes
-- Transmits life-enhancing insight and wisdom
-- Accelerates positive behavior change

A Wisdom Circle is not a class, seminar, workshop, or lecture. It's more participatory than any of those formats -- a way for people to share their own life-learnings with each other, through the medium of story, in a supportive, non-judgmental environment. Bottom line, it's a no-pressure get together where real listening happens and everyone has an opportunity to dive deeper into what life is really all about.

meninger2.jpg

Testimonials
You have wisdom to share
What a story is not
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling at Work

near2.jpg

How I connected with an Islamic school in Australia
You are a universe of stories
Storytelling as nest, home base, and safe haven
Why human beings tell stories
Ten reasons why people don't tell their stories

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:56 PM | 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.

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.
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