As a consultant it’s one thing to read about some new techniques in a book. It’s another thing to learn something from someone. But, it’s a complete another story to experience and witness a new thing on your own – to feel the turn in your mind.
That’s what we did with Chené – or to be more precise – that’s what Chené did with us. She went with us “up the mountain”. She is using this metaphor for a kind of re-authoring process. On the bottom of the mountain there is a singular story told from a person, but mostly authorized by someone other – colleagues, managers, parents, teachers, society, …
“This is just the way things are…” we often here someone say. E.g. when employees tell stories about the good leaders and the bad leaders in companies. These stories are not just told. These stories, heard at the coffee break are also enforcing a kind of leadership. Leadership has power, needless to say. But that’s not the final story, as Chené mentioned. Employees are part of the story – with the kind of stories they tell, they are creating or – as in narrative language spoken – “authorizing” the company.
So how can we build a new working together? How can we reconnect people to their passion? How can we start to trust one another and deeply connect as human beings, so that the voice of innovative ideas can get shared again? Innovators are challenging the distinctions, the rules, the beliefs.
As we went up the mountain we got a glimpse of how this can be realized – or, to use Chenés words – how we can transform ourself into another “richer” counter-story – connected to the community.
Every attendee told his own story – gave the story a name, talked about the influences the story has to our work, to the community, to our relationships, to our self and – most important – to our future. This telling and sharing made it possible to connect to each other and discern together the future.
Enriched and stuffed with real action plans Chené then send us back to real life – armed with rituals – not to forget our new counter story. It put us a grin on our face, when Chené told us the story about an attendee of one of her workshops, who put pink valve plugs on the wheels of her car, so she is always remembered to her new story.
Storytelling is about enrichment. As we walked up the mountain and told our stories, we were transforming from “thin internalized single stories” to “rich externalized stories linked to the community”. That’s what forces the shift in our mind, that’s what you barely can read in a book – you have to experience, you have to witness.
With George Bernhard Shaws words:
Life istn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.