When Outside Expertise is an Inside Job: Story Dives and Swords

In my past work life, I was part of a culture that loved bringing in experts. They loved inviting consultants in for meetings, sometimes even for entire seasons, offering outside perspectives for days or years at a time. I had a love-hate relationship with those experts: I loved how they opened up conversations and I resented that it took outsiders to open up conversations. I loved when the consultants helped us talk about challenges and renewed us for the days ahead. But I often felt like they were saying things that sounded remarkably close to things I had said, or thought I had said. They were hijacking my ideas and opinions, stamping them with their expert outsider approval, giving them the credibility I wanted my co-workers to see in me.

Now that I am part of a team often brought in from the outside to sit on the other side of the table and offer consultation, I understand that that feeling probably means the experts were doing their job well.

Here at Rebel, most our work involves coming into other people’s culture and opening up their conversations. We might be consulting them on video needs, crafting a live event, or offering direction on branding, but no matter what the end product might be, we almost always end up in broader conversations about the stories they are telling internally and externally. We may bring in expertise about video production or design, but if we get this work right, we are really there to light up the wisdom and creativity that is already present.

Whether we are acting as consultants around a conference table, or friends across coffee tables, the gift of an outside perspective is someone who asks the right question to draw out the answers that already exist.

Oftentimes we are able to do this because we offer people the chance to communicate without the entanglements that come from having to navigate everyday life. We offer a break in the action, a chance to reset, the space to speak and dream.

One of our favorite things to do for people is guide them through a Story Dive, to help them think through the stories they are telling to themselves and the wider world. We see these as a way to start new conversations and revise old ones. It’s a chance for people to hear and be heard. And when we get this work right, everyone leaves feeling like the one who held the answers all along, the hero holding the secret sword who just needed the right moment to shine.