Once upon a time…

Once upon a time there was data… and it didn’t change the world.

…and then there were stories…

Karen Eber has spent her career helping leaders develop the culture of their organisations. She has learn that stories are the foundation blocks of building culture.

 

Further Story Resources

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”

Joseph Campbell

Someone has shared the documentary film “Finding Joe” on YouTube. It is a fantastic introduction to the life’s work of Joseph Campbell… who first articulated the common structure to mythological stories: The Hero’s Journey.

I don’t know how long it will be up… it is well worth a watch (I’m watching it up on my TV right now).

It is better to have a story to give meaning to what is happening in our lives than an explanation… because a story is richer… and gives meaning. What story are you telling yourself about Coronavirus? We can choose the story.

“If you bargain away your life for security, you will never find your bliss”

Joseph Campbell

The journey is a pattern of our our journey of growing up as human beings. We are called to adventure… and resist the call… until the right set of challenge, mentors, self belief comes into place… and we begin a journey of transformation > the journey from an unsatisfying life (lived in service of other’s values) to a fulfilling life (lived in service of a greater cause).

I’ve been reading the novel Jonathan Livingston Seagull with my 4 year old daughter over the last week… it is a hero journey… and it is prompting many interesting conversations with my daughter.

The Hero’s Journey… 17 steps, 3 stages

Here is a previous post of mine that describes in detail the journey…

Here’s an old video of mine where I describe the 7 steps of the Hero Journey:

Overcoming challenges and obstacles is what makes life meaningful. I hope your dreams and visions are big enough to be difficult.

“Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better”

Jim Rohn

This video is about superman. When superman was first developed as a comic book character, he was so strong and powerful that he overcame all obstacles easily. It was only when the authors made him weaker that the stories became interesting.

In our own lives, it is not the easy path that makes for a meaningful life – it is the hard path, and having to become a better, stronger, more resilient, more resourceful person that makes for a meaningful life.

If you liked this post on stories, you will also like What is a Story and 7 Steps to the Perfect story.

I was in Belfast this week to celebrate my father’s birthday and spend some time with our relations in the north of Ireland.

My great uncle Jim is 94 years old. He has always been a great teller of stories. This is a story I remember hearing from Jim years ago. It is about why a barber shop thrived in a street where several brand name hairdressers had been unable to survive.

If you are reading this via email, you can watch the video on the blog here: Success in Business (A Story from my 94 year old Uncle Jim)

This is a story about a lost tribe in Papua New Guinea.

They were brought to the city of Singapore and shown skyscrapers, airports, factories, supermarkets, homes and life. When they were on their way back to their mountain village, they were asked: “What is the most incredible thing you have seen during your days in Singapore?”.

Watch this video to hear their answer…

If you are reading this via email, the video is here: The Story of the Wheelbarrow: We are blind to anything beyond our imagination

What makes them so effective in moving audiences to commit to action? Why is there currently an explosion of story courses, story gurus, business storytellers?

If you are reading this via email, you can watch the video on the blog: Why do Stories work in Persuasion?

What is a Story?

We think of stories as a creative art form but within that creativity there is a lot of structure. The building blocks of great Stories are predictable.

I have written extensively on how to tell great stories, the shapes of stories, what is a story, 7 steps to a great story.

If you haven’t already, check out my TED talk…

My TED talk is coming up to 400k views: “The Discipline of Finishing: Conor Neill at TEDxUniversidaddeNavarra”

A team can be heaven, a team can be hell: what makes the difference?

This is a story I shared a few months ago during the ACE16 conference at Harvard.

The story of Heaven and Hell

There’s a man that all his life he’s had one singular worry.

He wakes up every morning with this worry, every lunchtime has this worry. What he worries about is “how is heaven and how is hell?”.

Every morning he wakes and this is the first thing he wonders, every lunchtime, every moment that he has a bit of peace, every time he’s waiting in an elevator: “how is heaven, how is hell?”

Finally God gets a little bit tired of this incessant worry and decides I’m going to take him up and show him.

The man appears at the first set of gates. There’s some fire, little devils and rusted gates. The gates open and they enter a room.

They enter hell. In this room, the first thing that strikes him a wonderful smell of food. As he looks around the room he sees people holding their belly groaning, starving.

He sees that each person in the room is holding something in their hand.

He looks closer. He sees it is an enormous spoon.

In the centre of the room there’s a bowl. An enormous bowl. In that bowl he looks and he sees it is full of food. The people in the room are approaching the bowl, dipping their spoon into the food but the spoon is so large that they cannot eat. They’re starving.

God says “this is hell”.

The man says “Hell is not what I expected.”

They appear in front of some other doors. Little angels, harps, nice clouds… the doors slide open: they step into heaven.

Same smell, same room, same Bowl in the middle, every person in the room has the same spoon… but in this room room they’re reaching into the bowl, filling their spoon with food and they are feeding each other.

The difference between heaven and hell is who you choose to serve first.

More on the subject of creating teams that are more like heaven than hell…

On success, there is no one right answer: You cannot learn absolute rules from another person. You cannot take the life recipe of another person. You can learn from their stories, but only you will take what you take from a story.

Seek out Stories

Tribes, civilisations and families have found that life lessons are best communicated through stories.  Stories have existed since words came to the homo sapiens.  Joseph Campbell has identified common themes through the stories of every human society – clarifying the roles we play as human beings, the struggles we face in our lives and the search for underlying meaning to the bits and pieces that make up a life.

Stories connect to heart and to head, to reason and emotion.  There is a truth to a good story that is deeper than the factual truth of the events.  When a story resonates with you, it is not because of the objective truth of the story, it is because it connects with a subjective search for truth within you.

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Reading a story about story

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Once Upon a Time in A Speech…

I tell many stories in my speeches.  It always amazes me how different individual members of the audience take their own particular meanings from my speech.   Sometimes one particular off-the-cuff comment has an oversized impact for one individual.  Each person takes what they need from a good story.

Every person’s life experiences lead to answers in this moment for that person.  We each live in two worlds, the outer world that we share with all others; and the inner world that exists inside us, and that will disappear from this world when we ourselves leave this world.  Stories connect between my inner world and your inner world.

Stop Searching for Rules

Seek out experiences, not certificates.

Seek out people, not facades.

Seek out stories, not answers.

There are not answers, only stories.

 

“What if a writer is trying to tell a story and nothing much happens, nothing is resolved…”

How to Tell A Boring Story

Use: “and then this happened”.

The essential ingredient of a boring (it is going nowhere) story is the “and then this happened”…  “and then this happened”…  “and then this happened” structure.

There is no conflict.  

It is a laundry list of stuff happening… there is no sense of tension building and the listener getting curious and wondering about what is going to happen.

All good stories are a variation of: “Once there was a problem, but then it was resolved”

How to Make Story Engaging

Use lots of “but…” and “therefore…”  Check out the video below – it claims to have stolen the idea from Orson Wells, but I think ideas are meant to be stolen and shared.

PS I came across this gem from Nick Morgan’s blog the secrets of good storytelling.

Resources:  Check it out on vimeo: F for Fake (1973) – How to Structure a Video Essay from Tony Zhou

Today I am sharing a post from John Zimmer...

There is a small group of blogs that I always read.  One is John Zimmer’s Manner of Speaking.  This week he shared a video he found of Kevin Spacey (the actor) talking to an audience of online marketers.

Kevin Spacey talks about 3 ingredients of compelling stories:

  1. Conflict – there must be obstacles in the path of the hero
  2. Authenticity – the story must feel real
  3. Audience – a speaker is not a speaker without an audience (just some crazy man shouting at a wall) – feed the hunger for wisdom, for real experience and for connection of an audience and you will have them.

Read more over at John’s blog:

Kevin Spacey’s Three Key Elements to a Compelling Story

Stories are important for almost any communication situation. Spacey’s advice to those in business or marketing?I think it starts with what story do you want to tell. And if you start with what story you want to tell, everything else will follow. … Begin very simply and then start to build the blocks toward telling that story. What’s the best and most efficient and most compelling way that I can tell that story?

via Kevin Spacey’s Three Key Elements to a Compelling Story.