Storytelling at Work
July 15, 2022
The Chocolate Milk Shake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 05, 2022
Ending Violence with Chopsticks

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

As the three young thugs approached, the old man, lightly holding a pair of chopsticks in his right hand, plucked a housefly from the air. Just. Like. That. The young thugs noticed, their forward movement slowing dramatically. Then the martial arts master transferred the chopsticks to his left hand, quickly flicked his wrist above his head and caught a second housefly. The young thugs noticed again. Now, transferring the chopsticks to his right hand, the martial arts master performed the feat once again, plucking yet another housefly from the air and depositing it gently next to the other two, both of whom were dazed, but very much alive.

That's when the three young thugs stopped, turned around, and exited the restaurant as quickly as they could. It took them 30 minutes before they could even speak.

FOR YOUR REFFLECTION: This story was told to me by a fifth degree black belt from the same martial arts tradition as the great Master sitting at the sushi bar. When I first heard the story, it had great impact on me -- how violence could be ended without violence and how mastery could manifest itself in many forms to accomplish an extraordinary result.

"A good horse runs at the shadow of the whip", the old saying goes.

The chopsticks story was always one I wanted to include in my new book, but before publishing it, I wanted to make sure I had the story right. So I decided to so some research. I googled. I emailed. I spoke to people from the Master's martial arts lineage. But every effort I made came up empty. Nobody could tell me, for sure, whether or not the story was true.

That's when I realized I had a choice to make. Do I include the story in my book or not? In the end, I did. And why I did is because of the powerful message the story delivers in just a few paragraphs that take only 90 seconds to read.

Did the chopsticks story really happen the way I described it? Maybe. Maybe not. I still don't know. But what I do know is that there is a deep message embedded in the story -- a message that, if deeply imbibed, has the potential to change the way you (and whoever else reads the story) approaches the perceived problems in their life.

Is any story 100% factual? And, other than a story being told in a court of law, does it matter? Stories, by their very nature, morph in the telling. They also morph in relationship to the storyteller's perceptions, interpretation, and mood of the moment -- not unlike what happens in the children's game of telephone. Facts are one thing. Truth is another. Maybe that's why Francis Bacon once said, "Truth is so hard to tell, it sometimes needs fiction to make it plausible."

What danger is approaching you these days? And how might you defuse it in a non-traditional way?


MitchDitkoff.com

Another martial arts story
The Wisdom Circles of San Miguel


PHOTO: unsplash-logoJuan Encalada

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

July 01, 2022
POLL RESULTS: What Kind of Stories People Want to Tell

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Social scientists tell us that 65% of all our conversations take the shape of stories. That got me thinking about what kind of stories human beings like to tell. So I posted an online poll to see what I could learn, asking people to rate the following storytelling themes on a scale of 1 - 5 for how interested they would be to tell a story, from their own life, about that topic. 49 respondents, so far. Here are the results:

4.30 -- A small moment that taught me something big
4.14 -- A transformational moment with a Teacher, Mentor, or Master
4.10 -- Discovering my true self
4.06 -- The power of love
4.04 -- Amazing synchronicity
3.97 -- Standing at the crossroads
3.95 -- Tapping into my inner strength
3.93 -- The most remarkable moment of my life
3.93 -- Accepting what is
3.86 -- Letting go
3.84 -- The sudden appearance of unexpected help
3.82 -- The power of trust
3.82 -- The power of forgiveness
3.78 -- What I learned from my biggest mistake
3.71 -- The power of intention
3.69 -- A childhood experience I will never forget
3.68 -- Going beyond fear
3.68 -- Taking a leap
3.65 -- Divine timing
3.63 -- Expressing myself fully
3.63 -- What I learned from someone very different than me
3.60 -- Removing the mask
3.56 -- Choosing
3.56 -- Ask and ye shall receive
3.53 -- A mysterious connection with a stranger
3.51 -- What I learned from a child
3.48 -- Perseverance furthers
3.47 -- An unforgettable moment with my father
3.45 -- Being guided by unseen forces
3.44 -- Against all odds
3.40 -- A single, word, glance, or gesture that changed my life
3.39 -- The best gift I ever received
3.37 -- Everything happens for the best
3.36 -- Asking for help
3.34 -- True tenderness
3.32 -- Starting all over again
3.28 -- An unforgettable moment with my mother
3.28 -- Being called. Following my muse.
3.28 -- The biggest surprise of my life
3.27 -- When time stopped
3.27 -- A remarkable premonition
3.22 -- A missed opportunity. A chance not taken.
3.22 -- Being alone
3.20 -- It's all a matter of perspective
3.18 -- My biggest victory
3.15 -- An unusual collaboration
3.14 -- A story I've never told anyone
3.08 -- There is always a resolution
3.06 -- My earliest memory
3.02 -- Putting down my heavy load
3.00 -- Facing my opponent
2.95 -- Being saved
2.93 -- The most incredible dream I ever had
2.93 -- A near death experience
2.82 -- The power of immersion
2.73 -- My most embarrassing moment
2.71 -- Making my mark
2.69 -- An angelic visitation
2.63 -- Contact with the other side
2.53 -- Honoring my incarnation
2.39 -- The agony of betrayal
2.36 -- A past life memory
2.28 -- A family secret
1.93 -- My first kiss

Respond to the poll here
What stories will you tell today?

A culture of storytelling
A simple way to identify the seeds of your own stories
Photo: Ali Arif Soydas, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:05 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.

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