Storytelling Makes the World Go Round

“Those who tell the stories rule the world.” ~ Hopi proverb

If you think about it, everything we do depends on storytelling.

How we make friends, build relationships, add new clients. How we deepen our existing relationships, how we tell the world we exist.

This weekend, two of my children hosted holiday parties for friends. After, they recounted the stories that unfolded. They felt closer to their friends, energized by the experience of coming together and sharing time.

The Sunday newspaper arrived, and we opened it up to read the stories. Stories about books and about businesses, about how women have it hard in the U.S., sacrificing career for motherhood or vice versa. Stories about how people meet and how they decide to commit to one another and stories about where relationships go awry.

That about sums it up, you know. Even in the political arena, it’s all storytelling. Terrorists take over an Australian coffee shop, waving a Palestinian flag. In Iraq and Syria, as the Islamic State wields power, out come the stories about what is allowed and what isn’t, who will be put to death and why.

Stories, stories everywhere. If you think storytelling doesn’t matter, you’re dead wrong. The person to speak first and speak the loudest and have the easiest-to-follow storyline is the one who wins.

Professionally, I help other people tell their stories. I help them find the right audience. I help them channel through the right storytelling mediums.

Someone asked me what my story is, my purpose, my direction in life. What am I here to do? Simply put, what is my story?

I didn’t know what to say. What IS my story? What IS my purpose? I’m so busy helping other people discover theirs that I haven’t taken the time to do it myself.

It’s imperative that I do, of course, because without clarity on what story you need to tell, there is no success. Life begins and ends with a story. We come into this world amid stories of love and anticipation, we gain our name based on story and legacy, we spend our lives telling stories until the very end, when we sit calmly and at peace, sharing stories with whomever will listen.

What I love most about older adults is the stories they can tell. The sense of history and purpose, discovery and calling they share. Last week, I met a woman who is a pastor and a yoga teacher. “I’m so lucky,” she said. “I get paid to think about God.” Great story.

Now, the key is to find my own. Here I write a story to share with you, and after I finish and click publish, I’ll need to devote the day – or perhaps the week, or perhaps even longer – to discovering my own unique purpose. What a fantastic exercise. What a daunting task. And perhaps the most important task of all.

“The stories we tell literally make the world. If you want to change the world, you need to change your story. This truth applies both to individuals and institutions.” ~ Michael Margolis

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