We are all story tellers and 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.
Stories Get Lived Out
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 can create new stories.
A beautiful quote says it all:
“Remember, you don't fear people whose stories you know, real listening always brings people closer together.” Meg Wheatley.
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 storytelling. It is through telling our stories that we transcend our differences as we discover our universal connection with others.
Stories Shape Actions
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 expanded understanding and meaning about success from all the inputs and perspectives in the conversation. The stories begin to mingle and form a collective that you begin to share and spread.
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 the opposite, sending you off on a downward spiral associated with energy loss, dissatisfaction, and feelings of life being sapped.
Stories Change Lives
If you want to change something in your life, a way to start is to change your story. Start telling a different 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 we do if we want to start constructing a new narrative. It's true for individuals, organizations and countries. Thats's what Nelson Mandela did, what Martin Luther King did, what Mother Theresa did, what many artists and actors 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.
Storytelling through the Lens of Appreciative Inquiry
In the practice of Appreciative Inquiry (AI), we become more aware of the language we use and the direction of our stories. AI guides us to find the best in situations, not the worst and provides a framework for shifting the focus of our daily conversations. AI guides us to share stories of what works, not what's broken; what makes us feel uplifted, not pulled down. Appreciative Inquiry – Overview of Method, Principles and Applications offers a summary of the process and the principles. With deeper understanding and application of these principles, you can become more aware and pay attention to the stories you are telling yourself and others. As a result, you'll begin to notice a shift in your energy and your relationships.
I invite you to reflect on the dominant story you tell yourself about your world, and if you feel moved to do so, please share your insights below. If you are interested to learn more, tune into my podcast Positivity Strategist and you'll hear some wonderful people share their stories of how they are living their lives. I expect you'll find inspiration there.