Our Own Stories Might Surprise Us

Before we tell stories, we have to listen.  Whether we’re talking about personal or communal stories, the act of telling is inextricably linked to the practice of listening.

Companies who are trying to piece together their corporate story and message need to hear the stories of their employees and their customers.  They need to pay attention to the patterns and threads holding their work together or tearing it apart.

People who are trying to persuade with their words and ideas need to listen widely to others so they can sharpen their ability to connect and meet the real needs of the crowd.

Artists need to absorb inspiration and pay attention to the beauty and horror and everything in between that lives around them.

People who want to tell their own personal stories in an effective way need to pay attention to their own history, the people around them, the loud and quiet voices speaking in their own heads.

The space we make for listening is where we find the story.

We’re going to consider this for a few weeks on the blog: What does it mean to listen to other people, to other forms, and to ourselves?

This week, maybe you need a minute (or lots of minutes) to listen.  Maybe you need to sit with your own story, to see the links between the stories you’ve lived before and the stories you’re living now.  Maybe you need to find the connections between the stories you always end up telling and the one you’d rather tell instead.  If you need some prompts, here’s a couple we go back to for story training:

-Think about the things that cause you pain. Is there any pattern to the things that frustrate you or discourage you?

-Spend some time listing or naming the things that bring you joy.  Do you see any recurring patterns or rhythms to the things that bring you life?

There’s a good chance that a few minutes with these questions will change the way you see yourself today.  Maybe listening to the things that hurt you or cause you grief will help you know which direction you could move to make the world a little better.  Maybe that grief could motivate you.  Maybe as you name the stuff of joy, you’ll see places or relationships where you should be spending more time.

There’s also a chance that you just need to make the time or space for listening to quiet, without prompts, or questions, or lists.  Sometimes in silence, we find story lines from our very own lives that surprise us.

If my favorite words from Frederick Buechner are true, Listening could grant you more than you’re even looking for:

“Listen to your life.  See it for the fathomless mystery it is.  In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”—Frederick Buechner, from Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation.

Rebel Pilgrim is a creative agency based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Rebel Pilgrim believes that story is the only way to spark change and create excitement for any business or product. Start converting your uninterested crowds into engaged clients using the power of storytelling