In anticipation of our England and Ireland tour, I am reminded of the many times I have visited Europe and discovered that the people there love to tell stories, and they will tell you a story at the drop of a hat...and if you don't have a hat to drop, they will lend you theirs!
We're always looking for stories! But are we looking in the right places? If we are only looking for traditional stories, and/or personal stories from our own lives, we are missing a lot! Remember that the first skill of a storyteller is listening. But what shall we listen for? Here's a thought - OTHER people's stories!
There's a treasure trove of stories out there from people all over. The ones in the coffee shop, or the airport, or on a bus. Talk to the person next to you on the plane. Don't spend six hours without finding out something about them. One of the most famous stories is from Steven Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
In the section on Paradigm Shift, he recounts the tale of being on the subway and encountering a man and his children.
I remember one Sunday morning, on a subway in New York; people were sitting quietly- some reading, some lost in thought, some resting or sleeping- Then suddenly, a man and his children entered the subway car.
The children were so loud that instantly, the whole climate changed. The man sat down next to me and closed hi eyes, apparently neglecting the situation.
The children were yelling back and forth, throwing things, it was very disturbing and yet the man sitting next to me did nothing.
I could not believe that he could be so insensitive as to leave his children like that and doing nothing about it.
So finally, with unusual patience, I turned to him and said, “Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more.”
The man lifted his gaze as if to come to consciousness of the situation for the first time and said softly, “Oh, you’re right, I guess I should do something about it, we just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to do, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.
“Your wife has just died? Oh, I’m sorry! Can you tell me about it? What can I do to help?” Everything changed in an instant.
Covey was not only affected by the man's story, but the encounter spurred Covey to formulate his model of Paradigm Shift.
Stories can affect us in many ways.
Never forget the storytelling concept, paraphrased here by Mr. Rogers, "Frankly, there isn't anyone you couldn't learn to love once you've heard their story."
So get out there "among the people" and start listening to their stories!