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Episode #17 – Capturing Wisdom with Storyteling
Madelyn Blair’s company name Pelerei represents two root words that mean “lifting people up.” She made up the name as a hidden reminder of who she is and why she is here. Learn more about Madelyn’s books: Riding the Current and Essays in Two Voices.
In Essays in Two Voices Madelyn offers a simple process for two people to better understand an issue with by examining an issue together by sending short essay responses back and forth. We have so little time for pure inquiry, this process occurs when you have time for it, minimizes hidden agendas and gives permission to think a bit deeper and take some risks.
Her book Riding the Current is an excellent way to look at the stories we tell ourselves about what it takes to “stay current” and test out a new story that might make it a bit easier than we think
Madelyn discusses how Twitter, Facebook, Linked in, and other social media platforms showcase great stories told in non-traditional ways. She reiterates that stories don’t engage because of technology but because the story is interesting. Stories aren’t interesting without the creative tension of conflicting values or some obstacle blocking a goal.
When I asked if Madelyn had seen many storytelling mistakes she noted that when someone discovers storytelling, they want to use it everywhere and tell a story even when they don’t need one. When a story is needed she says some people confuse a simple narration of events with a story. Narration without tension or dilemma won’t engage listeners like a real story. And she recommends you ensure that the tension or dilemma in your story relates to the business situation.
During a discussion of Madelyn’s success using the principles of appreciate inquiry, we both credit Doug Lipman for the advice that “if you listen well enough, you can listen a story out of someone.” Listening is vital to appreciative inquiry and storytelling. Merging the principles of both creates a flow of communication that steadily deepens understanding.
Madelyn shares a storytelling exercise she uses with groups to improve mood, reveal core values, transfer important wisdom, or reveal pockets of wisdom important enough to share. She asks the group to pair off or gather in small groups and to “Tell each other about a project you are really proud of.”
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