January 2015 Blog It’s Your Story….
Saturday 31st January marks the start of National Story-Telling Week in the UK. The objective of which is the ‘promotion of the oral tradition of storytelling, the very first way of communicating life experiences and the creative imagination.’ www.sfs.org.uk
When I stopped to think about this theme, I realized I use story-telling more than I first thought in every-day life. I use it when discussing ‘learning points’ with my children, perhaps to steer the conversation onto positive things that come out of tricky & new situations they’ve encountered that day at school.
I use it when I’m re-counting something that’s happened at work to my husband. I use it when I’m justifying a decision I’ve made, as it helps to create a picture & set the scene.
I’ll definitely be ‘story-telling’ this Saturday when I’m out for a birthday meal with friends and family – certainly embellishing and adding effects for comedy or dramatic value in the same way the old oral traditions of folk-lore, fairy stories, and local legends started many many years ago.
In a digital age, we are still surprisingly reliant on the old fashioned principle of story-telling. In an organizational setting, leaders tell stories to engage and ignite passionate staff into action to follow a strategy or adopt new ways of thinking. As teams, we tell stories to our staff as a way of making personal relationships, finding a connection, a common goal and as a way of explaining why we do certain things in certain ways.
As individuals, we often have a ‘background story’ that limits us – we label ourselves as ‘a bad parent’; ‘a results driven manager’; ‘uncreative’; ‘lacking networking or person skills’ – we then act out our lives to match the story we’ve been given or we’ve given ourselves.
Sometimes in a coaching session with a client, their story is like a script. The same words are used in conversations or arguments, the same actions and behaviours are followed. I hear that it’s ‘what they’ve always done’, yet often those old stories and behaviours don’t feel right anymore, and clients want to change the ending. Coaching a client in this situation means challenging the benefits of sticking to their usual script and asking the questions that help them see an alternative narrative, one that offers a different or more positive end to their story. Some good questions to use are:
‘What benefits are there to changing your behavior…?’
‘If you could go back in time, what would you do differently..?’
‘What do you want to stop doing?’
‘How can you forgive yourself (others) & move on..?’
Try telling a new story about yourself during National Story Telling Week 31st Jan-4th Feb.