Life stories

Listening closely to life stories from people you meet during your day can be a wonderful source of inspiration when designing your own roadmap towards your natural purpose. To trigger a true life story is quite simple. It is all about posing one question and that question is: Which events in your life made that you are where you are now?

And then strictly restrict yourself to listening! until the person has completely finished telling his or her story (so don’t interrupt when he or she pauses to look for the right words or to dig into their memories). After that do not comment, give advise or try to help. Just show gratitude, interest and compassion. Only if really necessary you can ask some clarifying questions. Over time the input from these stories will broaden your scope of options and possibilities around your own path going forward. Sharing your own story (in return) can be a gift to others.

Storytelling as the ‘technique’ is called, is also a very powerful tool to reconnect people to each other and to their organization. It’s beauty is in its simplicity. Once properly introduced it spreads itself throughout the organization, reconnecting almost everybody to each other and the purpose. In organization where people have felt disconnected for a while it is however important to make it part of a broader program. Storytelling usually creates a strong flow of emotions and energy that needs attending to. 

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Storytelling used to be very common (before other means of passing on information were introduced) but most of us are not used to this practice any more. For clues about how to tell a good story yourself listen to one of the many inspiring videos on this topic on TED.com or Youtube.

Sometimes it can be practical to use a so called ‘talking stick’ whereby the person holding the stick is the only one ‘allowed’ to speak. Found my own preferred talking stick (see heading) during a trail in Africa where storytelling is still quite common. It is made of strong wood with a nice spicy smell called Tamboti. It felt a bit childish to use it in the beginning but proved very helpful in creating space for stories to unfold quietly and without interruptions.

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