Storytelling at Work
April 02, 2020
ONCE UPON A TIME: An Invitation to the Families of Whittlesea


Dear Moms and Dads of the City of Whittlesea:

Hello! My name is Mitch Ditkoff and I am working, these days, with Al Siraat College in Epping. Part of my work here includes storytelling -- or, more specifically, Wisdom Circles (a form of storytelling). I am also an author of two books on the power of storytelling (this one and that one) and a long-time researcher in the field.

The reason why I'm reaching out to you now is a simple one -- to share with you about the value of storytelling, in your own home and how it is likely to be a great resource to your family, especially during these stressful days of the Coronavirus.

As a parent, one of your biggest responsibilities is to protect your children and to make sure they have the best chance to thrive and grow. In many ways, or course, you are already doing this. Protecting your children's physical health is part of the process. It is also important, however, to protect your children's "metaphysical health" -- their state of mind -- by doing everything possible to lower their stress and anxiety.


One of the simplest ways to do this is via storytelling.

Storytelling has many positive benefits: it helps families bond, strengthens relationships, relaxes the mind, provides comfort, entertains, imparts values, builds trust, transmits wisdom, and gives children a voice -- allowing them to express themselves in healthy ways. And that includes the opportunity to air out their worries, concerns, and fears.

And so, I'm inviting you to create some special "storytelling time" with your family. But instead of just reading stories from a book, I'm inviting everyone in your family to take turns telling stories from their own lives -- personally meaningful, life-affirming experiences. Lessons learned. Challenges met. Breakthroughs. The good stuff.

The stories your family members tell do not need to be profound. They can be very simple -- whatever the storytellers think would be of interest to the others in the Wisdom Circle.

If you are the Mom or Dad, maybe you begin by telling a story from your own childhood. Or maybe you tell a story about a parent or grandparent. Or maybe you talk about a challenge you overcame... an act of kindness you experienced... a risk you took... a remarkable moment... or even something silly your kids might like to hear about.

"Gee, Mum, I never knew that about you!" your child might say. Or, "Hey, Dad, that was so cool! Do you have any other stories like that you can share with us?"

Of course, you also want to give your children a chance to share their own stories. And to help them do so, you can give them some topics to choose from:

-- My most memorable moment
-- The best gift I ever received, and why
-- A risk I took
-- An experience that changed my life
-- A moment of kindness
-- A funny thing that happened when I was smaller
-- The coolest surprise of my life
-- My biggest success
-- Something that scared me, but doesn't scare me anymore

Here are other topics you might want to consider.

Simply put, a Family Wisdom Circle is an opportunity to unplug from the world and simply be together -- no news, no video games, no TV, no internet, no bills, no dishes, no worries, no problems -- just some sacred time, in each other's company, to share from the heart.

Here's what Tanya Kubitza, a Whittlesea resident and employee of Al Sirat, had to say about a Family Wisdom Circle she recently had in her home.

Into it? If so, here are ten guidelines to increase the odds of your Family Wisdom Circle being as good as it can be:

1. Create a cozy space to meet, ideally in a circle.
2. Light some candles to create the meeting-around-the-fire feeling
3. Decide on who plays the role of "facilitator."
4. Let everyone know that storytelling is voluntary. No pressure!
5. Each storyteller gets five minutes to tell their story
6. When people aren't telling a story, their task is to listen
7. Turn off all cell phones and devices
8. At the end of each story, have a conversation -- unpack it
9. Cookies! Popcorn! Tea! Juice! Marshmellows!
10. At the end of the circle, ask your kids how it can be improved.

If you have any questions about Wisdom Circles, email me and I will respond. If you actually have a Wisdom Circle in your home (and enjoy the experience), feel free to let me know about the value of it and I will post your comments on my blog for other families to read. ( PS: Good news travels fast!

Here are some articles about storytelling you might find useful:

Storytelling builds attachment
Telling stories calms anxieties
The power of simply listening
You are a universe of stories
Dadda, do you have time to catch my bubbles?


Who am I?
Storytelling for the Revolution
First photo: Jude Beck, Unsplash
Fourth photo: Muhammed Ruq, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at April 2, 2020 01:12 AM

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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:

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.
Do you want to know more about the book before buying it? Click here for Mitch's response to frequently asked questions about Storytelling at Work – the perfect book for people who think they have no time to read.
The Workshop
Storytelling is an "unconscious competency" – an ability we all have that all too often remains inaccessible to us. Enter the Storytelling at Work workshop – a simple way to activate this powerful, innate skill.
Wisdom Circles
Want to establish a culture of storytelling in your organization or community? Looking for a simple way to help people to share their meaningful, memorable stories with each other? Here's how.
Podcasts & Videos
Click here to view and listen to a series of interviews with the author of this blog. Go beyond the written word. Listen. Feel. Elevate the conversation. Understand what the big deal is about personal storytelling.
Blogs 'R Us
If you like this blog, you might also like Mitch's other two blogs: The Heart of Innovation and The Heart of the Matter. Mitch is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.
Idea Champions
When Mitch isn't writing, he's captaining the good ship Idea Champions, a leading edge innovation consulting and training company based in Woodstock, NY. What their clients say.