If you would like to attend this coming weekend’s National Storytellers Festival for FREE contact me today. [email protected] and I will tell you how.
Friday, October 7th through Sunday the 9th
Some of the world’s greatest storytellers come to the tiny town of Jonesborough, TN and mesmerize audiences of all ages.
Hosted by the International Storytelling Center, it’s an event that belongs on your bucket list.
Marie and I will be there.
We’ve been tent hosts for years and we look forward to welcoming you to this delightful community.
Last night, Isabel Wilkerson spoke about her book, Caste: The Origins of our Discontents at The University of Richmond.
During the Q&A afterwards, a student said she had grown up in a little town outside Richmond and then come to high school in Richmond before attending U of R. She said she was taught American history differently in all three schools. She then asked, “How can we work together to move forward when we can’t even agree on where we have been?”
I was awed at this young woman’s insight.
I frequently say, “We live into the stories we tell ourselves.” What a challenge we face when we do not share a common understanding of our past.
Ms. Wilkerson shared that the stories that have impacted people the most in terms of their ability to survive and thrive have been their families’ stories.
I was thrilled because I speak often of how the stories my daddy told me have shaped my sense of my ability to withstand life’s ups and downs.
Examine the stories you tell yourself and ask yourself, “Do these stories serve me and mine well?” and if the answer is, “Yes,” then tell them often. And if not, then look deeper and find the stories that will help you and yours blossom where you and they are planted.
Chesterfield County Human Resources Retreat
I had a great time this past Friday telling stories that I hung on the framework of The Fish! Philosophy:
1. Adult work should be PLAY.
2. Be Present
3. Look for Ways to Make Other People’s Day
4. Choose Your Attitude
Today’s story was one I shared at the retreat.
“Story, as it turns out, was crucial to our evolution — more so than opposable thumbs. Opposable thumbs let us hang on; story told us what to hang on to.”
– Lisa Cron, Wired for Story
Becky is a two-dimensional artist who dwells on the edges of the surreal. She uses shifts in colors to take obvious subject matter to another place and time. She creates congested compositions to pull the viewer into an intimate space, forcing engagement. Her vibrantly colored work conveys an unpretentious, folksy look.
She has just finished designing the marketing communication graphics for our upcoming show, Speaking Truth to Power: Stories of Moses.
The Best Customer of Their Day
I spent years on the road as a consultant. Many a morning I would find myself the only customer in a hotel restaurant at 6:00 in the morning.
I loved the Marriott Cafes. They served Oatmeal Banana Crème Brule. A steaming hot bowl of oatmeal with sliced bananas, sprinkled with cinnamon, coved in brown sugar that was caramelized by a blow torch. Add bottomless glasses of water and cups of black coffee and I was ready to take on the world.
Frequently, my waitresses would be women in their fifties or sixties. They would look tired, harried and often surly. I used to ask myself if this was how they envisioned they’d be making their living when they were young?
A young colleague had given me the book Fish! He had thought the title was amusing considering our firm’s name: Catch Your Limit Consulting. Avid reader that I am I had read the book immediately. I mentioned the four principles of The Fish! Philosophy above.
It became my mission on these early mornings to be the Best Customer of Their Day. I would ask their names. I would ask where they were from. I would engage them in conversation when the time permitted. As I said, at that time of day, I was frequently the only customer in the café.
I was sincerely interested in their answers, but most importantly I simply wanted to Be Present. Sometimes, I succeeded in brightening their demeanor on the first trip. Some took a little more effort.
I did my best to remember their names and the pieces of info I picked up. I would call them by name when I saw them. I would mention the details I’d learned from our earlier conversations. Over time I noticed a change in their manner. At least in the way they treated me.
That was an additional benefit. What I most enjoyed was the way it made me feel when they seemed to walk away from me with a little more bounce in their step.
My most memorable of these experiences was late one Sunday night out on Long Island. I’d arrived late. It was raining and my hotel did not have a restaurant. I was directed to a Taco Bell. It was the only restaurant open in the area.
I was not happy having to go back out in the rain and equally displeased to find a line when I finally got inside the restaurant. As I waited in line, I observed the restaurant was understaffed: the manager, a cashier, and a teenager preparing the food. I overheard the manager negotiating with the boy to stay past his shift. She bribed him by saying she’d go out and talk to dad who was waiting for him in the parking lot and even offered to send food home.
By the time I got to the area where you’ve placed your order and you’re waiting for it to be prepared I’d calmed down. I was no longer annoyed. I was inside out of the rain, and I’d been engrossed in watching the manager deal with her staffing issues.
She was outside talking, I assumed, with the boy’s dad, when I spoke up to get the boy’s attention.
“Young man?” I had to repeat myself a couple of times before he looked up. If you’ve ever been in a Taco Bell, you may have noticed the food prep people get their directions from an overhead monitor. He had been deeply engrossed in what he was doing.
He looked at me like a cornered animal. I assumed he expected me to complain about something. I’m sure he would have rather been anyplace other that where he was, and now here was this old man about to ream him out.
I said, “I noticed how slammed you are, and I just wanted to tell you what a good job I think you’re doing.”
For a moment, he just stood there. I think it must have taken a second or two to process what I’d said, and to realize he wasn’t in trouble.
He said, “Thank you,” and as he turned back to his work, he stood up a little straighter.
At about that time the manager came back in and thanked him for staying and told him his dad was ok with him staying.
I got my food, sat down, and ate my double decker tacos.
Gone was my annoyance at having to go back out in the rain. Instead, I sat there watching that young man as he continued to prepare meals for folks in the only restaurant open for miles around. It was late on a Sunday night. Tomorrow was a school day. I’m sure he would have preferred being home. And I’m sure he was concerned about his dad having to wait, but for as long as I sat there his posture remained straight.
Looking to make other people’s days has become second nature to me. Part of why I do it is because I like making people feel better, but an equal part of it is I like the way it makes me feel. A true Win-Win scenario.
I encourage you to look for ways to make other people’s days. You’ll be glad you did.
I’d Love to Hear from You
If you want to attend this coming weekend’s National Storytelling Festival, contact me to day [email protected]
Til next time,