So in the midst of so much technology and business development comes a troupe of storytellers. Why storytelling when there is work to be done? Aren’t there other good things to do at a brown-bag besides telling stories?
Stories are catalysts to new understanding. I have been storytelling professionally since 1986. I’ve learned how even the simplest story can lead the listener to thinking differently or contemplating a bit more deeply about their own life and work. At other times, the story is just plain fun and simply meant to be enjoyed. You, as the listener, get to decide if you are listening for understanding or just to have fun.
Let’s take a look at a folktale. Here is a story that I told at the StoryRise brown-bag event in June. It’s short. Watch it before you read more of this article:
There are many ways to interpret that story. When I told it at this particular performance, I was thinking about what it means for the entrepreneur. I’ve created a few questions for that story to help you think about it in terms of your work as an entrepreneur or small-business developer:
1. Were you “asleep” before you started on the entrepreneurial road? It’s easy to just go through the motions at a job but not really accomplish anything. What were you doing before you started out on your own? Were you engaged with your work or just plodding through it?
2. The boy in the story lies down and finds that the ground is uncomfortable. What “uncomforts” forced you to move forward to your life as it is now? Why do you do what you do?
3. It was necessary for the boy to take action. He had to start digging up the ground to find the chest. He needed tools. What actions have you taken to move your work forward? Did you discover, find, borrow or create new tools in order to start “digging” into your business or creation? Do you have the right tools now?
4. Everywhere you look people are shouting about “starting your own business.” Maybe within your path is a “golden box” for you. However, the boy in the story can’t open it until he has dug deeper for the key. What is the “key” to your business? What or who is it that finally allowed you to unlock the box of treasures that is your work now? Are you still looking for the key?
5. The story does not end. It simply asks the listener to imagine the treasures inside the box. As you move through your life in your own business, what “treasures” are you finding in your work, your family, your understanding of the world and others? Is your box empty or full? Are you surprised by anything in the golden box?
Now that you have thought a bit more about the story, go back and watch it again. Let your subconscious work on understanding what the story says to you.
Just as with music or any art form, there are things going on below the surface of any tale. Next time you hear a story, think about this: what are the characters doing at any point? Those actions may be symbolic of what you need to do or stop doing. Objects (fields, tools, boxes, keys, locks) in a story may also be symbols intended to make you think, “Oh, I have something like that in my life.”
Don’t worry, you won’t have to work so hard every time you hear a story. Just as you have learned to listen to and appreciate music automatically, you’ll find that appreciating and understanding story will come as naturally.
Come to our next StoryRise at Gangplank or other location. Enjoy a story just for the fun of it and/or feel free to get all introspective.
More information about StoryRise is at StoryRise.
Sean Buvala, storyteller, is a coach for public-speaking and presenting skills and a mentor at Gangplank Avondale. You can learn more about him at seantells.com.