Are you a storyteller? What is your story?

When I sit down to tell my 2 year old a story, her eyes just light up. Within a minute, she is deeply immersed in the story. She listens to the story like she is listening to it for the first time … every time …

What is it about stories and little kids, I wonder?

pic by KoAn La Scrivana

And then it happens with ME too …

I am incredibly happy with my life these days. But even in the saddest of times, my tears roll down for someone else …when I read or watch a story about somebody else’s life. (Like when I watched the video on Lance’s post yesterday). Happy feelings too – like I felt incredibly special when I read this poem by Lucas Bright at Writer Dad’s blog. And then Eric’s guest post at Zenhabits brought back some memories of my own and filled me with a sense of gratitude for my life.

Time and again, the best bloggers will tell you share your stories on your blog. Entrepreneurs will tell you to give your story when you pitch an idea or you want to make a connection. Penelope Trunk angers a lot of her readers time and again, but then she also writes posts like this one and this. I disagree with her vehemently over and over again but then I love her a lot.

Why do stories work?

  • Stories have nothing to do with me: Why do stories that have absolutely nothing to do with me or my life make such a  big impact on me? The answer is hidden in that question. When a story has nothing to do with me but is intense and engrossing, I insert myself in the story and come alive. I come alive and then flow along. I flow along and then start to feel. I feel the story and then I feel the story of my life. It is a beautiful process and it works – once, twice, every time. That is why I love stories. I figure that is why my 2 year old loves stories.
  • Stories evoke emotions: We all build walls to protect ourselves from emotional abuse. We are all very guarded when it comes to feeling emotional about our own lives. No so when it comes to another person’s life, right? We can shed a tear and not feel weak. We can be moved and not seem emotional.

  • Stories are stories: When we listen to stories, we rarely question it’s authenticity. When we start to read a story, little facts seem to matter … but rarely do they matter after a certain point. Real or fictitious, a story always has real effects on us, never fictitious.
  • Stories are the best way to get you back to a “feeling” or a “state of mind”: When we feel certain negative or unwanted feelings, emotions or fears, it is not easy to just shoo them away. Stories are great in that they transport us  away so gently into a different world, where we can “feel” the right things without thinking as much about feeling the right things. (Complicated sentence there, sorry!)

Should I tell my story?

The whole point of this post is to try and convince everyone that we all need to find our stories. We then need to tell our stories. Tell our stories to ourselves and to the people in our lives. To our employers and to our friends. To the VC’s and to our kids.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has skills. Everyone has goals and ambitions. Everyone has plans for success. Everyone has had their share of struggles.  So what is the big deal? Right? The big deal is the story that connects the dots. The story that brings all of the strengths, weaknesses, skills, goals, ambitions, plans and every crap under the sun together in a unique way and tells your special story. None of the adjectives in the story are unique, but somehow, almost magically, the story is special, very unique and only yours. This is what Naomi Dunford does. Read her story here and then come back and tell me if it did not do something to you.

So, go deep into yourselves and find your story. I urge you. And then, go out into the world and tell your story. Tell yourself your story every day, every single day. Believe in yourself and stay true to your story. Never ever forget your story. It is who you are. It is who you will always be. Special. Like Lucas Bright :)

We all have plenty of stories. What is your story? How has telling others and yourself your story changed your life?

What is my story?

I will come back and share my story in my next post here. If you have read my earlier posts, you already  know some of my stories.

Authentic Business Discovery

For now, I would like to take some time to talk about Tom Volkar’s Business Discovery Class that I participated in a couple of weeks ago. I am working on my internet based startup (details will be in the upcoming story) and was curious to see what the class would offer. The class was a wonderful experience! When I sat back and thought about what the class really gave me, I came up with this post. The class helped me find my story and tell my story

I have to say the journey was amazing. And it was not much unlike some of the most satisfying experiences in our lives – we do most of the work and we gain most of the satisfaction – only someone really cool(read Tom) steers us ever so lightly in the right direction, nudging us back on to our paths. In essence, this class was a wonderful journey, a refreshing experience and loads of hard work.  In a week’s time, my journey involved traveling inwards and outwards, back in time and ahead into the years that will follow. It gave me my story. Honestly, the class taught me very little I did not know, but what it really did was establish the vital connections – between my past and my future, between my values and my desires, between my dreams and the action steps required to fulfill them. Looking back, the connections are a key part of understanding ourselves. There will be plenty of times when I will be unsure, when I will question my past decisions and the future path I have laid out for myself, but understanding those connections will help me “reboot” myself and get focused.

Tom is a great guy. He is very experienced in his field. He gets involved without getting in your face. He makes you work hard and asks the right questions. And if you push him like I did, he gives you lots of tools to get to your goal. He is great at customizing his class and taking feedback too.This is a great class if you are trying to jump into doing something on your own. Do feel free to contact me if you would like to know more.

For now, I look forward to hearing your stories. What makes you who you are today? What is it you love about your life and why? Is there something about yourself you will never ever change?

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  • Avani-Mehta

    I am not a story teller – my niece made me one :). Tom seems to be a great coach. Have been hearing positive reviews about him all over the web it seems.

    Avani-Mehtas last blog post..Top 8 Productivity Hacks – #2

  • Writer Dad

    Can I just tell you I’m smiling ear to ear. You gave Lucas the credit, and that is not only awesome, but a total validation of the story. Awesome, Maya.

    Writer Dads last blog post..Bright Ideas

  • Marelisa

    Hi Maya: Do you know that when they teach you trial strategy in law school they tell you not to drown the jurors with endless facts, but to tell them a story? You also need to let them relate to your client by invoking an emotional response. I think storytelling is our most basic way of communicating with each other.

    Marelisas last blog post..Solve Everyday Problems Creatively

  • Lance

    I spent today in a training session all day. The class was pretty interactive and that really made that day move along nicely. But that’s not the point I’m trying to get to – the point is – the most meaningful parts of the day – the things I’ll remember – are the stories that were shared. Not the facts. Not the flipcharts. The personal stories. Like Marelisa said, this evokes an emotional response. And there is much power in that. I look forward to the stories you will continue to share Maya.

    Nice review of Tom’s program – sounds like it was a great resource for you! Speaking from personal experience with Tom, also – I’ll second the great work he does!

    Lances last blog post..Believe In Yourself

  • Vered – MomGrind

    I’m looking forward to your story, Maya.

    I don’t think I’m ready to fully share mine, but I think bits and pieces do come across.

  • Maya

    Hi Avani,
    Children are special that way. They have a such a fresh and honest enthusiasm about themselves – I have noticed that even the most unlikeliest of people become story tellers :)

    Tom is good. Like most experiences, I am sure different people take away different things from Tom’s class. I wanted to focus on what I thought was the biggest learning for me.

    Hi Mare,
    You really teach me so much!
    Yes, it makes a lot of sense that they teach the importance of story telling in law school. You do have such a great combination of stories and facts on your blog. Thank you for that information!

    Hi Lance,
    You put it so well. The stories are what make it special, isn’t it. Tom helped me tell myself the story about my startup. Why I want to do what I want to do now … about why it is all about the business and the marketing and why it is much more than the business and the marketing. His class got me thinking on things from a new perspective – and I hope that will keep me on the path of action and help me pick up when I fall ….
    I look forward to sharing more …

    Hi Vered,
    Stories are good only when we are comfortable sharing them. Yes, bits and pieces surely do come across … you tell your stories ALONG with you readers on your blog … not too many people do that as effortlessly (seemingly) as you do :).

    Mayas last blog post..Are you a storyteller? What is your story?

  • Tom Volkar / Delightful Work

    Maya, thanks so much for the in depth review of my Authentic Business Discovery class. You’re the first to describe the connection points so well. Indeed it’s important to look at our stories and to see what themes have been expressing themselves throughout our lives.

    Parker Palmer in his book Let Your Life Speak says that our lives have been trying to get our attention all along and if we’ll only look we will see the connections. Just a bit of my story.

    Growing up I was disinterested in outer space yet I craved earthy environments, the deeper the better. My first job was on a truck farm, after that I worked installing sewage pipes and then when I was 19 I took a management training program in a deep shaft coal mine. Then even before I read Palmer’s book and made the connections, I was drawn to name my coaching business CoreU. Now as a coach I am very comfortable helping clients get past their surface masks and dig deeply within, even in the presence of their scary shadow sides. I relish deep, emotionally dark spaces and I’m comfortable navigating there.

    Tom Volkar / Delightful Works last blog post..Does a Business Startup Have To Be Hard?

  • Maya

    Writer Dad,
    Sorry I missed you earlier. Yes, you should be smiling, because Lucas does deserve a lot of credit :)

    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for sharing here! I was wondering if you had stopped by and read my take on your class … I was scared to sound too different, but I only wanted to talk about what I really got from this class :)
    You did well Tom. Thanks!

    Mayas last blog post..Are you a storyteller? What is your story?

  • Davina

    Hello Maya. This was excellent. You have a gentle, caring way of sharing your message… ooops, story :-) I really enjoyed this.

    I agree with everything you have said. Something else I believe about stories is that they have a flow. A direction. When we get “stuck” in our lives it’s usually because we’ve stopped moving, or can’t see the forest for the trees. A story grabs your attention and you want to know the outcome. Who’d ever open a book and stop after reading page 1? (Unless of course is was a crappy book.)

    Davinas last blog post..Video — Preparation Inspires Self-Confidence

  • Maya

    Indeed Davina, the flow. The way a story really consumes us so effortlessly is beautiful, isn’t it?
    And you are funny too :)

    Mayas last blog post..Are you a storyteller? What is your story?

  • Eric Hamm

    Hey Maya, stories are some of the greatest things we can share our fellow human beings. Because they not only replay life events, but they do so from a unique perspective that no one else embodies.

    Thanks for sharing all the great stories you mentioned and I look forward to seeing yours unfold more and more on the pages of this blog. :-) Eric.

    Eric Hamms last blog post..Painting Your Picture Of Paradise | Community Insight

  • Tricia

    I’m looking forward to reading your story. I’ve taught adult creative writing and memoir writing classes and students often feel like they don’t have a story. I always told them if you’ve lived, you have a unique story to tell.

    Tricias last blog post..Getting Over Myself

  • Evelyn Lim

    Stories make something that you share come alive. They are bridges that connect to the hearts of your readers. As readers or customers, we buy into the stories and not the hard facts or information of the product that are being “sold” to us.

    Initially, I was very reluctant to share the more personal parts of my life. I did not like the idea of revealing about how much I cried over something. Then, I realized from readers feedback, that they do want to know or read about my personal experiences. Being honest in the way I feel also drew readers to share about theirs on my site.

    Evelyn Lims last blog post..My Vision Board Tops Amazon’s Bestseller List?

  • Stacey / Create a Balance

    I believe we all have important stories that must be shared. This is part of the foundation of my blog. There is power in giving our stories voices and in sharing our voices with the world.

    Stacey / Create a Balances last blog post..21 Reasons to Schedule a Weekly Night Out for Yourself

  • Maya

    Hi Eric,
    I have enjoyed your stories too …it is really nice how you connect your posts to an inspiration in your daily life.

    So true, I think everyone does have a story – plenty of them in fact. We will always find those stories if we look long enough or hard enough, right?

    Hi Evelyn,
    The comments are just great. You said it so well – it really does connect to the hearts of the readers when we share our stories. I have enjoyed reading about your life and your kids especially …I have been inspired :)

    Hi Stacey,
    You share your life stories beautifully. Truly, giving our stories voices is so powerful!

    Mayas last blog post..Are you a storyteller? What is your story?

  • Cath Lawson

    Hi Maya – I must admit – I’ve told a lot of stories in the past on my blog. But I keep thinking – people don’t want to know what happened to me.

    I almost missed Naomi’s story but I saw it on Alltop yesterday and it brought a lump to my throat. I’m not surprised she couldn’t do it on video. But it was also very inspiring. Look what she has achieved this year, despite huge personal heartache.

    I’ve also heard a lot of good feedback about Tom’s classes. He’s a great guy. He has really made me think so much that when I have a problem – his words ring in my ears without him speaking.

    Cath Lawsons last blog post..Do You Have Business Questions?

  • Stacey / Create a Balance

    Maya – Thanks for your feedback. :)

    Stacey / Create a Balances last blog post..My First Video Blog! Take Back Your Life Episode #1 – Assessing Your Actions

  • Squawkfox

    As a former journalist, I never could insert myself into my stories. This is one reason I have grown to love blogging. Not only can I write about my own experiences but I can use my OWN voice.

    Squawkfoxs last blog post..10 Ways to Build a Resume Like a Professional Resume Writer: The Do’s

  • Kimberly Suta

    I would love for your blog to be a part of – the world’s first blog-to-film competition. It’s free! All u do is link this blog to for a chance to win 2,000!

    – Kimberly (co-creator)

  • Barbara Swafford – Blogging Without A Blog

    Hi Maya – I love reading the stories bloggers share in their posts or in comments. I also like to share snippets of my life when I write. I think readers feel closer to an author when they share more of themselves.

    Barbara Swafford – Blogging Without A Blogs last blog post..NBOTW – An Explorer Of Life

  • Maya

    Hi SquawkFox,
    Thank you for stopping to leave a comment!! I truly appreciate it! That is fascinating – I have never heard a journalist’s perspective – indeed, I think I see your point.

    Hi Kimberly,
    I would love to be a part of blog4reel!

    Hi Barbara,
    Yes, thank you for sharing snippets of your life. They have been very inspiring reads!

    Mayas last blog post..Integrity, Values and Happiness

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  • cindy

    I think that after searching for a place to belong on this internet I have finally found one. I to have a story and I want to tell it to the world.