Finding Ourselves in our Stories…
Taking a quick, retrospective look at the things I’ve been privileged to learn in my few years alive, I can’t help but notice the incredible, formative power that stories wield…
Let me bring things a bit closer to home.
In the past 1 year, I vividly remember just about 3 of all the books I read. Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’ and ‘What the Dog saw’ would be a classic case in point. If you’re familiar with Gladwell’s writing style, you’d recall the fact that he mostly recounts real-life experiences of people, remarkable or regular, and then he does something strange. Just as you’re about to figure out what the bottom-line of the story is, he leaves you in this unnerving limbo, which, in trying to make logical sense of what you’ve just read, your mind frantically starts putting fragmented pieces together, searching for some sort of meaning. The final arrangement of these separate pieces could have a thousand permutations, enough to create millions of unique narratives/lessons for each individual that reads his literature. I particularly remember sitting and staring blankly for about 20 minutes on my bed after reading the final chapter of ‘Outliers’. It was, to say the least, a revealing learning experience. And I still haven’t gotten over it.
Same thing goes with such books as Ofili’s ‘How Stupidity saved my life’, C.S Lewis’ literature and John Kotter’s ‘Our Iceberg is Melting’, albeit that writing styles are significantly varied from one author to another, first being lifestyle, second, Faith and third, business.
Now, where was I going with this? Okay… yes. I remember.
Well, personally, I’m highly of the opinion that this life we lead is just too complicated… interestingly beautiful… too magnificent… too diverse… and too flanked with constantly alternating, dynamic variables for anyone to claim to know it all… or as a matter of fact, claim to know anything at all – not to talk of flaunting our opinions as supreme or foolproof. Why? Because our experiences, situations, exigencies and configurations differ, and most times, do so by more than just a long shot. I, for example, would most likely live an entirely different life from some other guy who shares the same birth-date, time & place with me. Yes, it goes that deep.
So, all this begs one simple question – For anyone burdened with the highly indispensable role of knowledge transfer… a parent, teacher, writer, blogger, sibling or leader… what are the best ways to go about creating relational, interpersonal or social influence in a way that is void of bias and can relate to any target audience?
Well, I think the answer might be quite simple.
We need to tell more of our own stories.
Those real, honest, transparent and unbridled stories.
We need to be a bit more vulnerable, sometimes laying down our entire psychological line of defence… gently cracking open the oyster not minding whether there’s beauty within or not… We need to share the good, the bad and the ugly side of our stories, sometimes in reversed order. We need to, for once, get off our high horses and our incessant creation of make-believe mannequins signaling the flawed fact that we have everything figured out, or that the world works our way, or that we’re incapable of making mistakes.
Now, the creative outlets for these stories might differ – it could be a pen or a keyboard, a tongue or braille, across social media or across the dinner table… But if we look to make true impact, the message within our narratives need to remain the same.
So, what do I know? Well, I’m not sure. But here’s what I think.
I think we’re called to be a little less judgmental and self-sufficient – to be unafraid of coming across as ‘imperfect’, ‘damaged goods’ or ‘less than ideal’. And to do this, we’ve gotta tell our real stories, pacified with even the slightest glimmer of hope that in this brief journey called life, by sharing the very essence of what makes us ‘be’, we could, perhaps, find the very thing that we have been searching for all along…
Our true selves.