1. Lessons In Leadership
  2. Thoughts from the Zeitgeist

The Magic of Storytelling

We all have a tale worth sharing.

Not long ago a friend called and invited my wife and me to a show they knew I’d love because I love storytelling. It was something I’d never heard of – a multimedia experience called Pop-Up Magazine. I’d been traveling a lot and would have been happy to stay home, but I wanted to catch up with my friends, so I accepted their gracious offer.

I was blown away. How did I not know about the work this ensemble was doing? And sadly, the show I experienced was part of the farewell tour. So, unless you want to start a “please come back, Pop-Up Magazine” social media campaign, it’s all over.

The power of Pop-Up Magazine was grounded in the authenticity of the storytellers and the magical way the presentations pulled me out of my own world and right into theirs. They were funny, heartbreaking, relevant, bizarre, inspirational, and transporting. I will never forget the stories or those who told them. And I have a new appreciation for what’s possible when someone plans to engage an audience on a visceral level.

Stories can change our hearts and create empathy with people we might have otherwise judged harshly, based only on personal biases and lazy thinking.

Stories can change lives by opening our minds to new possibilities for growth and innovation.

Stories can change the course of history by connecting the world’s people in meaningful ways and advancing the spread of life-saving information, medical treatments, and technologies.

I don’t know if the storytellers behind Pop-Up Magazine will ever be lured back to the stage. I hope so. But I, for one, am going to pay more attention to the stories that are out there, every day, in the world around us. Whether it’s the banter of a guy busking on the streetcorner, professional presenters with a crafted narrative, Prof. Galloway’s amazing blog, or this moving video about how miraculous technology saved a guy’s life… I want to listen more intently. And I want to be more intentional about the stories I tell.

If I learned anything that night sitting on the edge of my seat in a darkened theatre, it’s that we are all storytellers advancing personal narratives and unique perspectives. What we say matters. Our stories can unleash great power. We choose if those stories do harm — damage a reputation, undermine a child’s confidence, or spread suspicion and resentment. Or we can choose to spread goodwill, lift people’s spirits, make them laugh, and unleash a force for good.

What’s your story?

Follow me on LinkedIn.