Friday, April 19, 2013

Storytelling as a learning tool

I recently had the honour of being a judge for a contest that required women to share their stories.

I read their words and as always, was truly blown away at the courage and persistence of women to stay true to themselves, even if they’ve gotten drawn off track because of life situations.

But what struck me is that while storytelling has become recognized as a valid business tool, often we fail to take it far enough.  We don’t get to the point where we actually help other people learn from our experiences. We just share our story and assume that people will capture the kernels of knowledge through osmosis.

Now to find the lessons does take a certain level of self-awareness and perhaps maturity to recognize that others could benefit from learning from our mistakes or more tactfully put, our detours en route to greatness.

One story that I often share with new entrepreneurs is about when I started a vegetable garden and how the results could be easily correlated to what it is like when you start a business – in that you never know what will grow easily, and in addition, you don’t plant something you don’t like (to eat or do) such as radishes. That radishes story captured people’s imagination and it’s almost become an inside joke.  Every time someone in the group finds themselves off track and doing work they hate, the response usually refers to radishes.

So next time you write or share your story, think about how someone else could benefit from hearing what you have to say.  How can you weave in some insights that will help others to grow and learn from your experience?  Sometimes that means you have to join the dots, so people get the picture.  Because then the challenges you have faced have meaning. Then you are truly helping someone else grow and learn.

1 comment:

Cheryl Sylvester said...

Wise words Anne. I totally agree that self-awareness is necessary - and paradoxically - the exercise of standing back from your story to ask "What could be meaningful to someone else?" can actually bring a different dimension of self-awareness. Thanks for your thoughtful article.