Excerpted from Cathy Fyock’s Presentation for the HRD World Congress, Mumbai, February 2017
Why are stories so powerful?
I’ll answer that question by telling a story. In this tale we meet a student who is being taught by his teacher through stories. One day the student asks, “Teacher, why do you always instruct about truth by telling stories?”
The teacher thinks for a moment, then replies, “Bring me water.”
The student finds a large brass bowl, fills it with water, and brings it to the teacher. “Here, teacher, is your water.”
To which the teacher responds: “Why do you bring me a brass bowl when all I asked for is water?”
And that’s how it is with storytelling. The story is the conveyance for truth. It helps us remember what is important, what is vital. Our stories hold life lessons.
So, why don’t YOU tell your stories? Why aren’t you speaking, training, and writing?
Many of you are doing amazing things. You are helping your organizations develop new products and services. You grow workers into leaders. You develop cultures that foster innovation. And you are touching the lives of your employees each day in meaningful ways.
So why don’t you tell your stories? Why isn’t the world benefitting from your wisdom and insights?
There is a wonderful story about Gandhi that applies here. As Gandhi was boarding a train that was leaving the station, his sandal fell off. Unable to rescue the sandal, he dropped the sandal from the other foot. When asked why, he said, “Now, the poor man who finds the first shoe will be able to have a use for the pair.”
By doing good work in your organization, you have dropped one shoe. By solving organizational challenges, you have dropped a shoe. By making teams more cohesive and by enabling change, you have dropped a single shoe. But now you must drop the other shoe. You must tell your story, you must share your truth—through writing, speaking, and training—so that others can use your wisdom and knowledge.
Does anybody want to read my story?
Some of you may still be hesitant about telling your story. I was meeting with a potential client who wanted to write her book, and toward the end of our conversation she turned to me and asked, “But does anybody really want to read my story?”
I responded, “Yes! Yes!” Why did I feel so convinced that her story was needed? I thought a lot about that, and I decided that I needed to write a blog about it. The result was “Cathy’s Credo” which I communicate on my website and is a tool I share with all my clients and audiences. And I’d like to share a shortened version of it with you here:
Remember, you were created with a purpose, and when you tell your stories you allow others to bear witness to the purpose of your life. Your stories are gifts to others: the gifts of joy, encouragement, insight, understanding, hope. Telling your story is holy work.
You know, the world needs your story. We have not solved all the leadership problems in our world. We don’t have all the answers to how we create a better world.
Finally, I’d like to share my Writers’ Pledge with you. I developed this at the suggestion of one of my clients who has developed her own pledge. Here’s what mine says:
I pledge that I will use my power to make today a fantastic day. I will block writing time on my calendar, and I will honor that time commitment and hold it as sacred, creative time.
I pledge that I will not allow my negative voice to guide my thinking or stop my creative process. I will surround myself with people who love me and support my writing.
I pledge to tell my story—to share my experiences—with authenticity and without apology. I know that in telling my story I can provide others with the gifts of hope, wisdom, and joy.
I pledge that I will continue to work so that I gain clarity and focus for my readers, audiences, and clients, so that I can continue to make the world a better place, one word at a time.
I believe that each of us can continue to make the world a better place, one word at a time.
The world needs your story.
Tell your story.