Whether in the privacy of a session with an individual client or lecturing to a group of a hundred people, I have found story to be one of the most transformative mediums for learning, insight and change. Stories hold the key to understanding ourselves and each other, to uncovering our feelings and our particular angle on the world. They are the starting point for healing and the launching pad for growth.
Stories bind us to our families, communities and organizations. They connect us to our individual past as well as our shared humanity. Stories can build community, guide us through the unknown, and protect us from what others have learned the hard way. Through the power of stories and ensuing discussion, leaders engage and enlist others towards a common path and shared goals.
There is so much we can learn from the stories of those who have gone before, as well as those who are walking the path with us now. The stories about what didn’t go right are as meaningful to people as the stories that illustrate positive outcomes. We all carry tremendous wisdom within. We gain as much from the telling and re-hearing of our own stories as from listening to the experiences of others.
As a psychologist, teacher, consultant, parent and partner, I have grappled with ways to develop values, skills and positive character traits in both myself and others. Stories have the power to elucidate the many paths towards positive growth. As we understand our own stories and bear witness to the stories of others, we can empower ourselves to make good decisions founded in a clear vision and strong convictions. Listening to each other, we can transform our grief and pain into understanding and acceptance, encourage integrity, and motivate responsible, inspired action and interactions. Stories can provide the vision for our potential.