Change Please

My daughter was riven a two-dollar bill as change for a recent transaction at the movie theater.  The bill suddenly became more precious to her than the value assigned by the United States Treasury.  The two-dollars will be put somewhere for safe-keeping, displayed as art, and not be used as intended (at least for a while).  Receiving change was expected, how it was delivered became the story she is telling.  The how in life can make all the difference.  Art and storytelling erupt when everyday interactions are delivered remarkably.

Your Story

Storytelling is such an important part of creating connection.  Consider how well we know the adventures of Lewis & Clark because of the journals they kept during their explorations.  If you have read the journals in entirety they are long spells that are mundane.  But what we recall and share are the highlights.  Surviving an early winter passage over the mountains in later-day Montana without rations.  Wintering on the Pacific coast.  Separating into two parties and then being reunited during a clash with natives.

Which stories does your cause hold out front?   Is there a narrative about your enterprise’s founding?  A personal narrative from an individual who was transformed by your organization’s services?  An emotional hook to draw-in your audience and make your work authentic?

Storytelling and Audience

Great storytellers are quickly bored without an audience to share their craft.  They thrive with interaction and an engaged audience.  The same is true for meetings.  If we simply wish to report out what we already know the meeting could have been summarized in a YouTube video.

How do you make a meeting meaningful?  Do you engage your audience?  Do you tap into the attendee’s wisdom?  Do you seek the advice of your audience?  Are they critical to the story? 

Who Keeps Your Organization’s Stories

Who keeps your cause’s stories?  Most organizations keep the required record of minutes, financial documents, corporate filings and IRS Letter of Determination in a secure location.  But where do you house the stories about how your organization was founded?  Who recalls the how the original board members were added?  What critical adversity was overcome?  Which community members saw the relevance of the organization’s mission and provided essential funding?  What early graduate of the enterprise’s programs has become a remarkable member of the community?  How was the idea for a key partnership hatched?  Who brought the idea for the fundraising event that was originally dismissed but now a treasured part of the community calendar?  

How do keep these important stories accessible and alive?  Does your organization stay in-touch with past staff and board members?  Is there a volunteer or intern who has a passion for cataloging the organization’s narratives.  Have you considered a digital library such as the one used by StoryCorps?  As Daniel Blink points out in A Whole New Mind, “the hero’s journey has three main parts: Departure, Initiation, and Return.”  Who is transcribing the critical events that form your enterprise’s hero story?