Telling Stories and Constructing Narratives
We are all story tellers. We depend on a regular narrative to help us navigate through our days. We tell each other stories everyday: at home with our families, at work with our colleagues and clients, at play with our mates, and in romance with our lovers. Who you hang out with informs your narrative – your story. What TV shows you watch, what clothes you buy, the food you eat and all that you regularly do informs your world view and is your story.
Significantly, the stories we tell ourselves get lived out daily. They guide our beliefs and choices, thereby impacting our actions. As we become more conscious of our own stories and the stories of others, we begin to notice different perspectives and potentially reach new levels of understanding. We begin to make sense of complex issues, and together we can create new stories.
A beautiful quote of Meg Wheatley says it all:“Remember, you don’t fear people whose stories you know, real listening always brings people closer together.”
When we are open with each other to truly connect, we find our intersect points, and from that shared place of common humanity we begin to share dreams and aspirations, addressing problems in different ways. One of the ways we do this is story telling. It is through telling our stories that we transcend our differences as we discover our universal connection with others.
As we talk to each other, we set the course for action. If a conversation is filled with uplifting stories of success and joy, you are more than likely to pitch in with your own stories of success, and others will do the same. As you construct meaning in relationship with others, you begin a process of developing an expanded understanding about success from all the perspectives in the conversation. The stories begin to mingle and form a collective story that you begin to share and spread.
Life Giving or Life Depleting
So what are your stories? Do they ignite you with greater energy, increasing your levels of satisfaction and joy, supporting you in upward spirals, or do they do the opposite: send you off on a downward spiral associated with energy loss, dissatisfaction, and feelings of life being sapped.
If you want to change something in your life, a way to start is to change your story. Start telling a different story. What you study grows. We can change our story
We can live ourselves into a new reality if we want to change something. We can give our power away, or we can take our power back. That’s what we do if we want to change: we start by constructing a new narrative. It’s true for individuals, organizations and countries. That’s what Nelson Mandela did, what Martin Luther King did, what Mother Theresa did, what many artists, actors and athletes do. You will know people in your own life who are rewriting their narratives because they can. You may know them personally, or you know them through the media.
Appreciative Inquiry – An Introduction
In the smartphone app, “Appreciative Inquiry – an Introduction”, I use stories to demonstrate the practice of AI and its five key guiding principles. Once you get the principles, you begin to live them and you become more conscious about the stories you tell yourself, giving yourself enormous flexibility. That is empowering!