A Storyteller's Story
I was a mathematics major in college, but I wasn't happy to have science without the other connection I felt around poetry, literature, and history. At the same time, I didn't want the history and literature without the power you get from being able to think analytically and broadly. I wanted something that somehow spanned those.
Leaving graduate school in creative writing and English literature in 1970, I took a job working with emotionally disturbed children, teaching them math and science. When I tossed "pearls of wisdom" to them, they just grunted and turned away - because they didn't trust me or my intentions.
Then, one day, by accident, I told them a ten-minute story. For the first time, they gave me their complete, active consent to talk to them. They allowed me to take them on a journey of the imagination.
I learned in the course of those ten minutes that stories can help people trust one another. They can lead to a sense of sharing without coercion.
I became a performing storyteller, hungry for that experience of helping people listen together, each in their own way, gradually becoming part of something larger than themselves.
In time, I started teaching storytelling. People began telling me that I was helping them build on their strengths to become even better storytellers.
In the process, I learned to be articulate about what choices storytellers face in their communication of story and about the consequences of each choice. I learned how to express information about storytelling in a form that would allow people to make effective decisions in the service of their own goals.
It was that information that drew the attention of the business community. I was, they told me, someone who could speak both languages, who could understand the world of conceptual thinking - the bullet point mentality - and respect it. At the same time, I was able to introduce those people to a world of image and relationship that hadn't necessarily been part of their training.
On this website, you'll find some of what I've learned over 35 years of pursuing connections through storytelling. You'll find free articles and stories as well as information products like the Image Riding Toolkit, which trains you to create an endless supply of useful images. I invite you to explore the Storytelling Workshop in a Box™, which is my most comprehensive attempt to make useful, effective storytelling information available to everybody.
For most people, my free newsletter will be the natural starting place. You will receive five items in each month's issue:
- An article reflecting my latest thinking about an important storytelling topic.
- An exercise that gives you hands-on experience applying the information in the article.
- A story on the same topic.
- A contest related to the topic.
- A subscriber special every month that can save you money on storytelling resources.
Also, you can visit my online store and learn about the various workshops and individual coaching that I offer.
Be sure to look at the "Ask the Storytelling Coach" page, because you and I can use this electronic interaction to get to know each other better - to form relationships around storytelling.
That's what I learned back at the school in 1970: relationships built around storytelling make all the difference between words scattered on the wind and words that take root, grow strong, and eventually blossom.