Storytelling at Work
June 07, 2019
Woodstock Wisdom Circles

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Woodstock, New York is famous for a lot of things -- the 1969 music festival, it's creative community, spirit of freedom, laid back lifestyle, mountain views, Tibetan monastery, Halloween parade, and Santa's Christmas appearance on the town green, just to name a few. One thing it is NOT famous for, at least not yet, is its Wisdom Circles.

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

Bottom line, they are an opportunity for a small group of open-minded people (up to 12) to come together for an engaging evening of storytelling -- each person getting a chance to share at least one meaningful, memorable story from their own life and have an all-too-rare opportunity to have other people respond with heart and soul.

Here's what a sampling of Wisdom Circle participants have said about their experience of it.

BI-WEEKLY WISDOM CIRCLES IN WOODSTOCK: 7:00 -- 9:30 pm

July 17
July 31

To register: Email mitch@ideachampions.com (with "Wisdom Circles" in the subject line)

Fee: $15

After I receive your request, I will email you the address and the topics for the evening you have selected.

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MitchDitkoff.com
Wisdom Circle Testimonials
Storytelling for the Revolution
What people are saying about my new book

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2019
The Curious Results of the Wisdom Circle Storytelling Poll

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Curious to know what kinds of stories people find most compelling to share and also listen to, I recently forwarded a 37-item poll to friends, clients, Facebook storytelling groups, and people who have attended one or more of the Wisdom Circles I facilitate. So far, 117 people have chimed in. Here are their responses, on a scale of 1-5.

4.79 -- The appearance of unexpected help
4.75 -- Finding your inner strength
4.72 -- An unforgettable moment with a teacher or mentor
4.72 -- Courage
4.71 -- The most remarkable moment of your life
4.70 -- Forgiveness
4.67 -- Accomplishing the seemingly impossible
4.66 -- Your most creative accomplishment
4.66 -- Gratitude
4.66 -- Overcoming fear
4.66 -- Inner transformation
4.66 -- Taking a risk
4.66 -- Finding your path
4.65 -- The power of intuition
4.63 -- What you've learned from failure
4.62 -- Breakthrough
4.61 -- Perseverance
4.61 -- Going beyond an old belief or assumption
4.61 -- Overcoming a difficult obstacle
4.61 -- Making a big change
4.60 -- An extraordinary encounter with a stranger

4.60 -- AVERAGE FOR ALL ANSWERS

4.59 -- Synchronicity
4.59 -- Letting go
4.58 -- Recovery/resilience
4.57 -- Adaptability
4.56 -- Trust/faith
4.54 -- Asking for help
4.51 -- Healing
4.50 -- A cosmic experience
4.49 -- A life changing dream
4.49 -- Going beyond the call of duty
4.49 -- A paranormal experience
4.46 -- Losing everything
4.45 -- Patience
4.43 -- A rite of passage
4.40 -- Your most embarrassing moment
4.40 -- Almost dying

And here are some other themes, not included in the poll, that respondents suggested for future Wisdom Circles.

1. Untold history
2. The power of storytelling
3. The eternal now
4. Sanctity
5. The sacred vs. the profane
6. Our place in the world
7. Finding love
8. Serendipity
9. Handling challenges
10. Finding your voice
11. Knowing when to say goodbye
12. Surrender
13. Being OK with displaying human frailty
14. Ethical behavior
15. A moment that changed your life

If you would like to respond to the poll, click here. Takes 3 minutes.

The next series of Wisdom Circles I will be offering will take place in Woodstock, NY:

April 10
April 24
May 8
May 22
June 5
June 19

If you want to participate, send an email to mitch@ideachampions.com with the words "WISDOM CIRCLE" in the subject line and I will let you know if space is still available AND what the themes are for the session you want to attend.

Here's what other people have said about their Wisdom Circle experience.

Mitch Ditkoff

Storytelling for the Revolution
I'm not sure what category this story fits

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:22 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2019
Wisdom Circle Testimonials

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A Wisdom Circle is an enjoyable two-hour gathering of 6-12 people for the purpose of sharing meaningful, personal stories with each other -- stories that convey insights, deep feeling, and moments of truth. What follows are a sampling of testimonials from some of the people who have attended a recent series of Wisdom Circles in San Miguel de Allende.

"I didn't know what to expect when I first attended the wisdom circle; I had brought pen and paper, prepared for note taking and homework. Half way through the evening I found myself spell bound by the spinning of tales and stories, notebook forgotten. What if, in every day life, we paid attention to the stories of our peers with the same focus and respect? What would happen if we gave a child, a friend or and spouse 10 minutes of undivided, uninterrupted attention? At the closing of the Wisdom circle that night, I felt that I had been given the opportunity to glance at the human soul, under the gentle guidance of Mitch Ditkoff." -- Carole Clement

"I attended one of Mitch's wisdom circles for the first time last night, and left feeling uplifted, connected, and heard. Sitting together in community, listening to others' stories and unique perspectives on life, and bearing witness to one another's experiences is not only powerful, but healing. These circles are a microcosm of how I hope society at large might one day function -- truly seeing those around us, valuing them, and recognizing we are on a journey together in our shared humanity." - Karen Kinney

"There is no doubt in my mind that Mitch is offering a service to the community that is of enormous value through his facilitation of the Wisdom Circles. There is indeed great wisdom in exploring our own stories; in speaking them, sharing them and allowing them to be witnessed. The feedback, insights and questions from Mitch and the other participants open a door for us to reconsider from different perspectives that which we too often have only seen from one angle for too long, perhaps causing an inflexibility in our attachment to our story. It is quite possible to hold something too dear and too tightly; to offer that up to a group is to open to a larger picture and to yield to the process of letting go. I much admire the ease and gentleness with which Mitch creates a safe container for that offering and release. I admire how he cherishes the offering with his careful listening and how he facilitates its blooming through his kind and keen questions. I highly recommend the Wisdom Circle to anybody who feels that they have a story to tell, especially if they feel that they don't." -- Carlos F. Chancellor

"My Wisdom Circle evening was a heartwarming event. The remarkable stories we heard created an instant community of trust and empathy. I felt embraced by everyone. I went with one story to share in mind, but the stories others told tapped into a very different place in me, and a story that surprised me emerged from me. The experience gave me a new insight that stunned me, or really, it was an old insight that I had forgotten about and was deeply happy to have back. The Circle was a beautiful, totally engaging evening." -- Susan Page

"I went to my first Wisdom Circle with some interest, but as the first session unfolded, my interest piqued. Mitch is a wonderful, caring facilitator and he draws out the best in people. I am hooked with the experiences that I am receiving in The Wisdom Circle. I find that days after I leave The Wisdom Circle I am still reflecting on the stories told. I had no idea that someone else's experience told in a story could affect me so deeply and would have an impact on my future thoughts. Mitch is interested and caring in his duties as the mediator. I love going and look forward to the experience with great anticipation." - Robyn Johnson

"One of the biggest takeaways I had from the Wisdom Circle was the importance of listening. I couldn't help but notice how my mind was constantly wanting to interject during other people's stories. Whether it was a joke, a comment of acknowledgment, or even just wanting to say 'yeah sure'. But through the process of listening to each person's story, really paying attention, and clearly hearing what it was that they had to say, I found that it was not only an enriching experience, but also something I've begun to implement in my day-to-day life." - Jon Jeffers

"I went to Mitch's Wisdom Circle last week. It's really a storytelling circle. It was wonderful. This was my first time attending a storytelling gathering where I would be participating. Mitch is a great facilitator. And the space was loving and safe, with wonderful people, none of whom I had met before, but two hours later felt like I had six new friends. It's an inspiring environment that naturally evokes the sharing of stories. I'm going again." - Sharon Jeffers

"The Wisdom Circle evening I attended was not only stimulating, but conjured up stories of my own I hadn't even remembered, until my memory was stirred by the others in the circle. Mitch made us feel safe and appreciated in sharing our stories and created an evening of ambiance, gratitude and mutual appreciation -- a place to be real.' -- Sher Davidson

"The whole experience renewed my interest in listening to, writing, and telling stories." -- Jean Paul Peretz

"I appreciate your orientation -- that sharing our stories with one another is a beautiful way that humans support and teach and enrich one another. It is also a way to build community. Most of all, in hearing one another's stories we are aware of our shared, flawed, exquisite humanity. I feel you do a very good job of bringing all this forward, of inspiring, of creating a space for this to happen." -- Diana Kuper

"I found it immensely moving to listen to people's core narratives at the Wisdom Circles I have attended. It deepens my appreciation of who they are and what their inner life looks like." -- Ruth Garbus

"Mitch Ditkoff's Wisdom Circles are SO MUCH FUN. Under his alchemical guidance, each and every storytelling gathering is a safe, encouraging, inspiring, profound, and creative opportunity to more deeply connect with myself and others." -- Lynda Carre

"I was invited to to attend a Wisdom Circle with my daughter and we spent a wonderful evening of storytelling and enlightenment. Sharing insights and bringing people together made it a memorable evening." -- Jean Buchalter


MitchDitkoff.com
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling at Work

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

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

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

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

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The premise of a Wisdom Circle is a simple one: inside of each and every human being is a vast storehouse of meaningful experience, insight, inspiration, and life-affirming moments of truth. What's missing, all too often, however, is the opportunity to share this good stuff with people who are listening and present.

That's what happens in a Wisdom Circle.

A small group of people (8-12) get together for two hours at a time, in a relaxed, skillfully facilitated forum (usually in someone's home), to share their stories with each other. Participation is voluntary. Some people, in the circle, are inspired to share their stories. Others are content simply to listen and take it all in. Both are needed. Both are fine. No pressure. No sweat. No problema. Just good energy.

And while participants in a Wisdom Circle may not necessarily perceive themselves to be sages, wizards, or keepers of wisdom, the stories they tell prove otherwise -- especially when their stories are "unpacked" for meaning and resonance by the other people in the circle.

Bottom line, San Miguel's Wisdom Circles are engaging, fun, healing, mind-opening, provocative, and enjoyable gatherings that enable each participant, through the medium of story, to embrace the totality of what it means to be a real human being.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE: 7:00 -- 9:00 pm

March 6
March 13
March 20

COST: 300 pesos
TO REGISTER: mitch@ideachampions.com

Want to host a Wisdom Circle in your own home with your own circle of friends and neighors? It's possible. Just ask.

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Wisdom Circle ground rules
Opening illustration : PougetDigital
THE FACILITATOR: Mitch Ditkoff
A sample testimonial

PS: In a few months, I will be taking Wisdom Circles on the road, offering them in homes, communities, and businesses around the world. Details to follow. The simplest way to get me to your city is to set up a keynote or workshop for me with an organization. They will pay my expenses and, hopefully, enough of a fee to pay for my time. Then, I will already be in your town or city and can do a few wisdom circles, too. Maybe, even, in your home. Whoo hoo!

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:22 PM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2019
Life Beyond Story

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

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

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

This, I think, is one of the great paradoxes of life -- not unlike Lao Tzu's famous quote: "He who knows, does not speak. He who speaks, does not know."

On one level, Lao Tzu was spot on. On another level, Lao Tzu was saying something that a skilled skeptic could easily dismiss as proof that Lao Tzu "does not know because he spoke, so why should we bother to listen to anything he has to say?"

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As the Zen Buddhists remind us, "The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon."

So it is with stories and storytelling. They are not the moon. They are fingers pointing at the moon. But pointing has its place. It does -- as long as we don't become prisoners of our pointing or forget to experience life in the unfiltered present because of our tendency to be overly identified with the stories of our past.

That being said -- what follows is an elaboration on this phenomenon from my 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.

"Let's assume for the moment that, after reading my book, you are intrigued by the notion of telling your own stories. Fantastic. Great. That's the reason why I wrote the book in the first place. So... you begin thinking about your own moments of truth and start writing them down -- at least the titles, that is. The more titles you write, the more stories you remember -- stories from your childhood, travels, work, relationships, quest for meaning, accidents, disappointments, victories, near death experiences, strange lights in the sky, and so on. Let's say you top out at 359 titles. But let’s take it one step further.

Let's say you actually write your stories. But not only write them -- you tell them, too, until every story of yours has been told. You could, of course, choose to tell your stories again to other people in other ways. You could, of course, choose to turn them into screenplays, novels, songs, sitcoms, i-phone apps, or webinars. But you don't. You feel complete, every story in you having been told.

So there you are with no more need tell a single story (not even the story of why you are no longer telling stories). Like small puddles evaporating after a storm, your need to tell your stories has completely disappeared. Now there is only solid ground beneath your feet. Your friends and fans, accustomed to your delightful story telling, are keenly disappointed, but you say nothing. You say nothing because you have nothing to say. You have no point to make. The words you would normally use to populate your tales have gone south for the winter. They are vacationing somewhere on a remote island, cocktail party chit chat for the night.

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Your last story has been told.

Though you are fully awake and can see many things happening, you have no need to connect the dots, no need for a plot, characters, conflict, or a resolution. Everything is what it is. You are what you are, breathing slowly, wanting nothing, feeling grateful, enjoying the time before the first story was ever told. You think of telling that story, but don't.

You let it go. Like the milkweed floating by. And the leaf...

Why Tell Stories

Storytelling for the Revolution
A funny story about minced garlic

Photo of Milkweed: Dawid Zawilla, Unsplash
Photo of Moon: Bejamin Voros, Unsplash
Photo of Book: Nong Vang, Unsplash

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

February 06, 2018
WISDOM CIRCLES: Tribal Storytelling in the Workplace

Here's a sneak preview of an exciting new organizational invention of mine, WISDOM CIRCLES -- an organic outgrowth of Storytelling at Work. These are small group gatherings for people who want to explore the power of personal storytelling in the workplace -- an inspired opportunity to share insights, wisdom, tacit knowledge, and lessons learned -- the hard to communicate "inner best practices" that are a huge part of who we are as human beings.

MitchDitkoff.com
Podcast, videos, and interviews on storytelling
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:03 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2017
THE WISDOM CIRCLES OF SAN MIGUEL: February 13th

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Every human being, no matter what path they walk, skip, hop, or jump is a fountainhead of wisdom -- a deep well of insights, brilliance, and lessons learned. This wisdom, however, is often buried beneath the flora and fauna of our daily lives and, because it is, the full value of what we know to be true often remains unexpressed.

The good news? Our deepest wisdom is always available to us. It's just hiding. And where it's hiding is in our stories -- those memorable moments of truth we've all had that have, contained within them, meaning and inspiration worth sharing.

One of the simplest ways to get back in touch with the deepest part of who we are is a Wisdom Circle, a lightly facilitated sharing of life stories that provides the safety, guidance, and inspiration for participants to reconnect with the very best of who they are.

If you are in San Miguel de Allende, on Monday, February 13th, you're in luck. That's where and when the next Wisdom Circle will take place -- more specifically, at the LifePath Retreat Center from 3:00 -- 5:00 pm.

Facilitated by Mitch Ditkoff, author of Storytelling at Work and the forthcoming Storytelling for the Revolution.

Enrollment is limited to 12. First come, first served. To reserve a seat, send a "I Want A Seat at The Wisdom Circle" email to mitch@ideachampions.com and you will receive a confirmation (or be placed on the waiting list). 150 pesos.

What kind of story will you tell today?

Video: Mitch Ditkoff on Storytelling

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:03 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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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.
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