What do you define as a story that matters?
You’re telling stories all the time – what happened as you woke up, went to work, talked to a friend; your diet, exercise routine, plans for a holiday, dreams for the future.
Every time you recall an interview from the radio, an article online, or something you’ve learned in your studies, you’re telling your story.
These personal and curated stories come as naturally to us to tell, share, and listen to, as breathing. We are programmed to communicate through story and have been doing so for ever. How much of a story can an archeologist read into a hieroglyphic!
The question is why do your stories matter, or more importantly, how do you make them matter?
To build trust and community
I know a person who is a stream-of-conscious storyteller. She’ll tell me what she ate for breakfast, and I get the whole Wheatbix, right down to the paddock from which the wheat was harvested.
For these storytellers, it’s all about how and what, rarely about why, and never about you.
The person who tells you a story about what they ate for breakfast and why, and has you in mind, is a considered storyteller. They know something about you and that disposes you to trust them, listen to their story and then think about them, and wheat in a new light.
The stream-of-conscious storyteller doesn’t consider you in their narrative. The considered storyteller does and as a result, your brain activity changes. Your brain produces oxytocin. Oxytocin is a neurochemical that’s activated when you feel trust in response to a kindness, courtesy or display of empathy.
This is the response that binds us into tribes that are compelled to act together.
There is no greater proof of the power of story to bind people then when such a unison results in atrocity. What else can be the glue that holds people together in the face of evil?
Counter to that are the communities united by story in a cause that works for the greater good.
Your cultural tale
Your personal stories are deeply ingrained into your life’s experience. They define you and your purpose, if you give yourself permission to listen to them.
We carry a cultural tale that is a thousand years long. Martin Brokenly, The Native Wisdom of Belonging.
Recently, I had the privilege of working with 25 people from various government departments to tell their cultural tale in conjunction with Mahana Culture.
Surprising was how many felt they’d never had the permission before to look deeply at what made up their deep memory collection of stories and to examine their cultural tale.
When we do, we discover our stories matter. They give us a greater sense of who we are, our place in the world, our unique value, and what we can contribute to make a difference.
Our stories matter
It doesn’t have to be an epic tale. Very often there is a significant lesson for us and others in the stories that emanate from the minutiae of our daily lives. Tuning in to your stories is wonderful and when you tell them, you will feed your belief in why you do what you do for who.
Start gathering your stories today and please share them with us here and on Facebook. We can all learn so much from them.