Storytelling at Work
January 27, 2021
THE STORY UNFOLDS! Zoom Wisdom Circles Launch in April


"The shortest distance between two people is a story."

Knowing that storytelling is one of the most powerful ways for people to connect, heal, and share the best of who they are, I've decided to launch a series of online Wisdom Circles in April. I've resisted "going virtual" with storytelling for a while, attached to my concept that REAL storytelling requires that everyone is in the same physical "around the fire" space. And while that is still my preference, the times they are a changing.

Instead of wearing our mask, we get a chance to take off our mask.

If you're interested, send me an email ( and I will get back to you with details.

ZOOM Wisdom Circles will happen once a week (on Sundays from 3:00 -- 5:00 pm EST for two hours and cost $20. People can come to one or the entire series depending on available space (limit of 20 participants per session).

Here's what one person had to say about his experience of participating in a Wisdom Circle from 5,000 miles away:

"My first Wisdom Circle was a very personal, energetic, intimate experience. I enjoyed meaningful stories in a small group and received validation that we're all connected and can see the me in all of us. And I was 5,000 miles away in the middle of the Pacific Ocean! Instant connection without visual distraction on a cellular level." - Casey Holt

More info below:

What is a Wisdom Circle?
My 2018 book on storytelling
My 2015 book on storytelling
Who am I?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

Take Back the Power of Story

Very informative, inspiring, and authentic talk by story activist, Mary Alice Arthur. 18 minutes worth of goodies.

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

What People Are Saying About the Impact of Wisdom Circles


Wisdom Circles are enjoyable, lightly-facilitated, gatherings of 6-20 people sharing meaningful, personal stories with each other -- stories that convey insight, lessons learned, and memorable moments of truth. What follows are a sampling of testimonials from people who have participated in Wisdom Circles in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Melbourne, Australia, and Woodstock, NY.

"Wisdom 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

"I always leave a Wisdom Circle full of new perspective, insight, and feeling -- a deeper connection to my fellow storytellers and story listeners, but most importantly, a refreshed relationship to my own life path and deeper connection to my values, voice and truth." -- Akka B.

"At the closing of the Wisdom circle, I felt I had been given the opportunity to glance at the human soul." -- Carole Clement

"There is no doubt in my mind that Wisdom Circles are a service of enormous value to the community. There is indeed great wisdom in exploring our own stories; in speaking them, sharing them, and allowing them to be witnessed." -- Carlos Chancellor

"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." -- Susan Page

"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." -- Robyn Johnson

Stories not alone3.jpg

"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

"The Wisdom Circle was not only stimulating, but conjured up stories of my own that I hadn't remembered until my memory was stirred by the others in the circle. A great evening of 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

"How freeing the Wisdom Circle was for me! I could allow myself to find the tale that wanted telling and feel safe to tell it. Afterwards I felt a sense of relief and freedom. I felt seen and heard without judgment." -- Ellen Goldberg

"Sharing our stories with one another is a beautiful way that humans support, teach, and enrich one another." -- Diana Kuper

"I found it immensely moving to listen to people's core narratives. It deepened my appreciation of who they are and what their inner life looks like." -- Ruth Garbus

"Two hours into the Wisdom Circle I felt like I had six new friends. It's an inspiring environment that naturally evokes the sharing of stories." -- Sharon Jeffers

"Wisdom Circles are SO MUCH FUN. Under the facilitator's 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

"A wonderful evening of storytelling and enlightenment. Sharing insights and bringing people together made it a memorable evening." -- Jean Buchalter

"The Wisdom Storytelling Circle is a simple, alive form that brought forth my deep narratives." -- Barbara Bash

"Participating in a Wisdom Circle is uplifting and empowering -- bringing forth empathy, trust, intimacy, sharing, learning, real listening, community building, and digging into one's own life. It is so enriching to mind and soul." -- Eldad Benary

"In our very busy lives, filled with all of the calamitous news, Wisdom Circles are a serene way to escape, for a few hours, back to oneself." -- Jan Buchalter

"Participating in a Wisdom Circle was a very freeing experience. It created a bond between participants that opened the door to understanding others by seeing things through their eyes." -- Dr. Alan Pizer

"I heard amazing and inspiring stories from each person at the Wisdom Circle and felt spiritually and emotionally enriched afterward." -- Corinne Mol

"The Wisdom Circle is the place to be. If you're looking for great energy, intelligent, creative people, lots of laughter and loving togetherness, this is the place for you. Don't miss it. It is life changing." -- Nathan Brenowitz

"Wisdom circles are transformative. This is what my life has been sorely lacking for a very long time. Through the process of storytelling, we each delve into aspects of our lives that are not generally discussed or deeply considered. The questions and discussions that follow each story inspire the storyteller and other group members to tap into their own wisdom, with surprisingly wonderful results." - Alan Powitz

"Upon meeting the other Wisdom Circle participants, I felt that I was reconnecting with people I had met before. Sharing and hearing our stories brought tears to my eyes and laughter from my heart." - Fred Szczesiul

"My first Wisdom Circle was a very personal, energetic, intimate experience. I enjoyed meaningful stories in a small group and received validation that we're all connected and can see the me in all of us. And I was 5,000 miles away in the middle of the Pacific Ocean! Instant connection without visual distraction on a cellular level." - Casey Holt

"There is something truly powerful about sitting in a circle together and listening deeply to each others personal experiences. It creates a visceral experience of true belonging." -- Howard Moody

"It was a privilege and pleasure to be included in the Wisdom Circle for the Whittlesea Interfaith Network. The stories shared triggered deep reflection, awakening similar memories of like events that led to a connection of our shared humanity across so many religions and cultural linguistic divides. An uplifting experience it was, leaving all of us with life lessons in just two short hours. God Bless!" -- Nathan Elijah

"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."-- Margaret Hartley

"The Wisdom Circles at our school have allowed us to pause, reflect and connect with our colleagues and fellow human beings. Hearing each other's stories allows us to re-surface profound events and experiences that have been buried deep inside our hearts. Like it is said, the words of the tongue reach the ears, but the words of the heart reach the heart." - Fazeel Arain

"I have found each Wisdom Circle I attended to be a safe space where I could share, open up, laugh, cry and sometimes just listen." - Najma Anis-Reusch

"There is a certain enchanted mood in the room as we join the Wisdom Circle. Some come to listen, some come to share their own stories, and some are just curious. Whatever the intentions, we all leave feeling energised and looking forward to the next opportunity to connect through the powerful messages we learn from each other." - Rahat Arain

"If you want to make a genuine and sincere connection with colleagues or just sit quietly and immerse yourself in profound story telling, the Wisdom Circle is for you! It's not therapy, but it's certainly therapeutic." - Sitki Esenyel


You have wisdom to share and it is hiding in your stories
Wisdom Circle facilitator training
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling at Work

Illustration: gapingvoid

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2021
Five Feet Off the Ground


Many centuries ago after years of wandering alone in the forests of India, a young seeker of truth found himself, hungry, thirsty, and exhausted, at the entrance of the most remote ashram in the land. Gathering whatever strength he had left, he knocked on the ashram's massive wooden door and asked the gatekeeper for shelter, a request granted, under one condition -- at sunrise, he must be on his way.

Thrilled at his good fortune, the young man agreed to the condition and was escorted to a room with a mat on the floor, a tray of food, and a faded photo of a bearded man whom he assumed was the resident guru.

Sleep came easy to him that night, grateful as he was for a good meal and a chance to rest his weary bones. And rest he did. Deeply. That is, until the door to his room swung wildly open and there, standing just a few feet away, holding a small candle, loomed the man in the faded photo.

"Stand up now!" he commanded. "Stand up and follow me. We don't have much time."

And with those twelve words, the Master turned and exited -- the young seeker doing all he could to follow behind. Outside, a violent storm was raging. Lightning crackled. Thunder boomed. The wind and the rain were relentless.

For an hour they walked, deeper and deeper into a forest, the young seeker having no clue where they were going or why. And then, without warning, at the foot of a gigantic tree, the Master stopped, turned, and uttered a single word. "Climb!"


The young lad, sensing the perfection of the moment, grabbed the lowest branch, pulled himself up, and began climbing -- not an easy task by any means. Especially not tonight. Not in this darkness. And not in this storm. Still, he persevered, branch-by-branch, handhold-by-handhold, breath-by-breath, his pathway up illuminated only by occasional flashes of lightning.

How long he climbed, no one knows. Nor does anyone know how many times he almost fell to what would have been a certain death. The only thing known for sure is that he made it to the top, and, upon arriving, holding tight with one hand, raised the other to the heavens in a bold salute to his accomplishment.

And then, no time to lose, he began his descent, an effort far more difficult than his ascent, his muscles now fatigued, his hands cramped, the massive tree swaying precariously in the wind.

An hour passed. And then, when the young boy finally reached the lowest branch, just five feet off the ground, the Master let out a ferocious roar.

"WATCH OUT!" he screamed. "WATCH OUT!!!"

Stunned, the boy hopped down, stood to his full height, and approached.

"Oh Enlightened One," he began, "please forgive my ignorance, but I am confused. All during my ascent, through the lightning and thunder, you said nothing to me -- not a single word. Many times, I was almost blown from the tree and yet you remained silent. The same held true for my descent, an even more difficult task. Not once did you issue a word of caution. Not once did you advise or encourage me. But now, just five feet off the ground, you shout your warning? This makes no sense to me, no sense at all."

"Precisely, my son. Precisely!" came the reply. "All during your ascent, you knew how dangerous the conditions were -- and because you did, you hung on for dear life. No words of caution from me were needed. My words would have only distracted you. And the same held true for your descent. But just five feet off the ground, when you assumed your work was done, that was the time of greatest danger. That was the time you could have been injured. And that is why I spoke. Know this, my son, the most dangerous time is always just before completion."

FOR YOUR REFLECTION: All of us, at some point in our lives, have committed to a difficult task imbued with great meaning. Maybe no one else knew of our adventures and the obstacles standing in our way, but we did. We knew the path forward was difficult. We knew we would need to rise to the occasion.

If this describes you, know that you have also had your own climbing-a-tree-in-the-middle-of-a-raging-storm moment and also your tree descent moment -- the time when all of the forces within you needed to be marshaled.

Just like the young seeker awakened from a deep sleep and was asked to accomplish the seemingly impossible, you too are being called. You, too, no matter how much effort you've expended, are five feet off the ground.

What do you need to be more conscious of as you approach the completion of your project? What tasks require your full attention? What do you need to be most mindful of as you hop down from your branch, just five feet off the ground?

Photo #1: Jordan Whitfield, Unsplash
Photo #2: Sabastian Unrau
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2021
Inspiring Cows


"Practice," it has been said, "makes perfect". Practice, indeed, is how human beings translate theory into action. Practice is how any of us get good at anything. Of course, there are a million of ways to practice. In a group. Alone. In a cave. In a gym. In your mind. Online. Off the wall. With a teacher. Without a teacher. The sky's the limit and even then there are pilots who can help. The following story is all about practice -- a version of it I never imagined I would try.

Here goes:

Some years ago, I was living in a commune on a 600-acre cattle farm in Virginia. We were three couples, two cats, and one child in a five bedroom house. We called ourselves "Ananda Household" (at least that's what it said on our checkbook), ananda being a Hindi word for bliss -- our go to word of the moment because all of us were students of the same teacher who, among other things, was helping us awaken to the source of bliss within ourselves. Or like, whatever.

Towards that end, once a week, we would have "satsang" in our living room -- "satsang" translating as "company of the truth" which, simply put, was a gathering of inward looking people to share, spontaneously, the timeless, non-denominational wisdom of the soul.


The six of us, inspired as we were, would do our best to advertise these gatherings to our local community, but because our home was 12 miles in the boonies there were many evenings when no one, other than the six of us, would be sitting in that living room.

And while these gatherings were always inspiring, I began to feel like something was missing -- that something being people other than us to share this good news with -- even if my high school English teacher told me never to end a sentence with a preposition.

Not more than a few days after this somber feeling began to arise in me, we got word that one of Prem Rawat's Mahatamas from India needed a place to stay for a week and we were the chosen ones.

Wow! Whoa! Whew! We were psyched -- a chance to host a holy man, someone much further along the path than any of us. Cool!

And so we prepared with great rigor -- spotlessly cleaning our guest room, picking fresh flowers, and buying a whole bunch of Indian spices.

On the day of Mahatmaji's arrival, even though he was tired from his travels, he joined us for dinner and shared some stories from the Mahabharata before turning in for the night.

The next night was satsang and we were thrilled to have, in our midst, a genuine devotee -- someone way more tuned in than any of us -- the real McCoy who, we knew in our bones, would be way more inspiring to a roomful of people than any of us local yokels.

The room was set. The flowers were on the alter. The incense was lit -- me positioned at the front door to escort what I imagined would be about 20 people, arriving a few at a time, into the living room.

No one showed up. No one. Not a single soul. As usual, it was just us -- the six householders (one child asleep) and, tonight, Mahatma-ji, smiling from ear to ear. And while the evening, as I recall, was enjoyable, I couldn't help but feel we had missed an opportunity to fill the room with people likely to have an experience of a lifetime.

Did I mention that no one showed up?

The next morning, Mahatma-ji, sensing my state of mind, invited me to join him for a walk. And so I did. As we strolled the country road, I confessed to feeling disappointed at the lack of "turn out" at last night's gathering.


"What do I do, Mahatma-ji, when no one shows up and I have so much, within me, to share?"

"Talk to the cows," he said, pointing to a field of Herefords to our left.

This was not the answer I was expecting. Talk to the cows? Really? Talk to cows? Giving satsang to animals seemed totally off-the-wall to me, maybe Mahatma-ji's misinterpretation of something he read in a scripture -- but we kept on walking, Mahatma-ji and me, the sound of mooing all around us.

A few days later it was Mahatma-ji's time to leave town and so he vamoosed just a few hours before satsang in our living room. Guess how many people showed up? None. As in zero. No one.

And so, the next morning, after breakfast, remembering Mahatmaji's advice to me, I went for a walk on the same road we had trekked just days before, cows to the right of me, cows to the left of me, cows everywhere I looked.

Clearing my throat, I sidled up to the fence and let it rip.

"Dear brothers and sisters," I began, "what a beautiful life this is! How fortunate we are to be alive at this precious time. And for what purpose? Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? To know ourselves. To experience the divine self. To feel gratitude for simply breath alone. To find the peace that passes all understanding."

And on and on and on I went.

The cows, it seemed, were enjoying what they heard. Herd! Their tails wagged. Their ears twitched. And some of them walked towards me. I realized course, it was possible that it was just the sound of my voice that animated them, or maybe the fact that anyone at all was standing at the fence -- maybe someone with a carrot or an apple.


Indeed, it was possible, I guess, that I would have gotten the same response from reading the phone book or reciting Canterbury Tales in Middle English. But in that particular moment, none of these thoughts mattered. And why they didn't matter, was because I was experiencing something totally beautiful within me -- something way beyond cow or human psychology.

My heart was opening. My mind was still. And I could feel the beautiful choo choo train of love soaring through me, destination unknown -- not to mention a huge dose of ease, freedom, flow, goodness, gladness, grace, and gratitude.

I was, you might say, practicing -- getting into the zone of letting the spontaneous expression of my inner being come roaring through me -- uninhibited, unannounced, and uncensored. Practicing, yes! Not performing. Not trying. Not impressing. Just practicing -- whether or not a single cow twitched an ear, wagged a tail, or mooed -- most of them staring at me as if I didn't even exist.
Photo #1: Lomig, Unsplash
Photo #2: RookieLuva, Unsplash
Photo #3: Alex Azabache, Unsplash
Photo #4: Jakob Cotton, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)


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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