by Doug Lipman
Can you remember when you first made the connection between yourself and the word “storyteller”?
Maybe you had been telling stories already – but hadn’t known there was such a profession?
Maybe you saw a performer who called herself a storyteller?
In any case, it was a magical moment. By considering that you might be or become a storyteller, you opened a door. Through that door was potential, community, exciting new challenges, and a way to become both more yourself and yet bigger than yourself.
How About Now?
If you’ve been calling yourself a storyteller for a long time, is that label still serving you? Is it still opening doors for you, calling you to accept new challenges, to expand your image of who you are?
Or has the vista you once glimpsed through the door called “storytelling” turned into a tunnel with no clear outlet? Has it begun to limit your growth instead of enabling it?
Rising to New Challenges
Before you became a “storyteller,” your life experiences forced you to develop skills and wisdom you were later able to apply in the context of storytelling.
If you’ve been a storyteller for a while, your experiences in storytelling have caused you to develop additional skills and wisdom.
The next step, then, is to apply those skills you’ve developed as a storyteller, but in new contexts. Some of those contexts will have the same widening effects that the “storyteller” doorway offered you, many years ago.
Openings That Beckon to Storytellers
I’ve recently written about a new opportunity for storytellers: the new “Common Core State Standards” for public education in the U.S.. Good teachers are desperate for ways to translate these conceptual standards into meaningful activities for students.
We storytellers are, I maintain, specialists in helping people create meaning and become emotionally involved. Those are skills that educators need right now.
This is an example of a huge doorway that does NOT say “storyteller” over it – but can draw on the exact skills many of us have developed.
In fact, the skills of the storyteller – such as communication, meaning-making, involvement, and imagination – are very powerful. There is no limit on their application in other spheres of life.
Recently, I have been teaching individual storytellers to notice what gives them great joy in their storytelling, then to use their answers to discover groups of people who have pressing problems that the storyteller’s own wisdom can help solve.
In other words, if we are willing to think of our storytelling in new ways, we can simultaneously do three things:
1. Continue our own joyful evolution – the very evolution that brought us to storytelling;
2. Help others who are in urgent need of our help but wouldn’t seek out a “storyteller”; and
3. Blaze new trails for other storytellers.
The Trick Is…
In the spirit of forging new pathways, let’s take a hint from management consultant Tom Peters:
“Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.”
Okay, storytellers. Is it time – without giving up who we are or our allegiance to storytelling – to “do something else”?
Are you continuing the process that brought you to storytelling? If not, is it time to resume your journey of evolution? Are there new doorways waiting for you to notice them?
Doug Lipman literally wrote the book on storytelling coaching. A two-time featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival, his current passion is helping his fellow storytellers support themselves more easily, so they can continue to make their wisdom available to the world.
Doug has several free email newsletters and downloads, which you can see listed at www.storydynamics.com/lists. His monthly “eTips from the Storytelling Coach” has subscribers in over 60 countries.
Doug’s most recent monthly newsletter is the “Storytelling Games Newsletter,” dedicated to helping educators use enjoyable story games to help them teach.
Doug Lipman, Story Dynamics. PO Box 946, Marshfield, MA 02050
Toll-free: 1-888-LIPMAN-1 (1-888-547-6261)