Dan Portnoy’s The Non-Profit Narrative: How Telling Stories Can Change the World is free for download to your Kindle device until Thursday (May 10) 12 a.m. You can download it from this link. In the book, Portnoy Media Group chief storyteller Dan Portnoy shows how non-profits thrive by telling great … Continue reading
Reinvention Summit 2 is history, but I’m continuing to recap, synthesize, and expand on its 20 excellent sessions. I would like to think that my husband and I have followed the advice of Robert Tercek, described as “one of the world’s most prolific creators of interactive content,” to make a … Continue reading
Hey, remember the other day in my recap of Bo Eason’s #story12 session, in which I heartily agreed with his premise that “whoever is the best in the field gives the most of themselves” and “the more you give, the more you get paid and the more influence you have”? … Continue reading
NFL player … turned playwright … turned story evangelist? Really? Reinvention Summit 2 was my first introduction to Bo Eason, whose one-man play, Runt of the Litter, is a semiautobiographical account of Eason’s life and career as a safety for the Houston Oilers in the 1980s. Eason’s session provided a … Continue reading
Acknowledging that “storytelling is a language for reinvention,” Reinvention Summit 2 founder Michael Margolis at yesterday’s kickoff session invited attendees to set their intentions for the summit. You don’t necessarily have to be part of the summit tribe, however, to set intentions for reinvention. While the first question on the … Continue reading
You’ll find little of what follows that hasn’t already appeared in this space. The following is the text of a speech I gave last week in Toastmasters. My assignment was to explain an abstract concept. I chose “the spirituality of imperfection,” which I’ve written about here a number of times. I wove a bit of my personal story into it, something I’ve also written about here. A new addition had to do with Toastmasters itself and how it is a safe place to tell personal stories. You can also see a video of me delivering the speech in the extended entry.
By the way, one of the books I’ve most enjoyed over the last year is Life Itself, Roger Ebert’s memoir. Roger tells his personal story of his alcoholism in this terrific blog post.
My name is Kathy, and I’m an alcoholic.
If I were at a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, that’s what I would say. I haven’t had a drink in 29 years, but I am still an alcoholic because if I ever took a drink again, I wouldn’t be able to stop.
I was inspired to tell a bit of my story after [a member] mentioned during Table Topics that he is in recovery. [Member’s name] told me that he was planning to start a 12-step group here at this church because he feels it’s important to tell his story so he can help others. Later, [another member] spoke about her experience with a 12-step program.
Thus, my peer Toastmasters and honored guests, I want to share with you how important stories are for sharing our common humanity and imperfections.
A few years ago, I was drawn to this book, The Spirituality of Imperfection, partly because of my own experience with addiction and partly because of my passion for storytelling and the book’s subtitle, “Storytelling and the Search for Meaning.” The book explains why personal storytelling is at the heart of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs.
“In the mirror of another’s story,” the book says, “we can discover our tragedy and our comedy — and therefore our very human-ness.”
My tragedy was that I spent 10 years of my life drinking — from age 18 to age 28. I did many things I’m not proud of, including blacking out and waking up with no memory of what happened in the preceding hours. Back then, I could not imagine participating in a social event without the lubrication of alcohol. A cousin once told me, “You don’t bother to have a personality unless you’re drunk.”
After I quit, dealing with my shyness in social situations was extremely difficult, and is to this day. But I would never go back because my life is unimaginably better without alcohol.
Let me share with you a passage from The Spirituality of Imperfection that explains how sharing stories helps others:
The stories that sustain a spirituality of imperfection are wisdom stories. They follow a temporal format, describing “what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now.” Such stories, however, can do more: The sequential format makes it possible for other people’s stories to become part of “my” story. Sometimes, for example, hearing another person’s story can occasion profound change.
This format, the books says, of describing of “what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now” shapes a language of recovery that acts as the key that opens the door to experiences that are spirituality.
It may not be easy to understand how this story-sharing is spiritual. The Spirituality of Imperfection notes that the great spiritual leaders told stories that invited identification. If you look at the parables of Jesus, for example, they are all stories that his followers could identify with, could see themselves in — The Sower and the Seeds, The Prodigal Son, The Good Samaritan. As The Spirituality of Imperfection states, great spiritual leaders have understood that “the best way to help me find my story is to tell me your story.”
To my current theme of year-end review and new-year goals, I’m adapting some ideas from an article by Ernest R. Stair in the January 2012 issue of Toastmaster magazine (to read the full article, you’ll need to return to the link later in January — unless you’re a Toastmasters member). … Continue reading
My colleague Darrell Gurney has conducted an annual process for more than eight years in which he “powerfully wrap[s] up the passing year before going on to design my coming year.” He offers his exercise to subscribers and friends at the end of each year. While the end of the … Continue reading
Today is World Aids Day. In this short (2:49) video, HIV-positive people tell hopeful stories. It’s from the Clinton Foundation, whose Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) initiative has changed the way PMTCT programs are managed, resulting in a 40 percent drop in transmission rates across six focus countries from 2008-2010.
I think I’ve posted most of the entries in the Story of Stuff series; yesterday, I started seeing The Story of Broke being shared. When I went to view it on YouTube, I noted that it many critical comments were posted. I’m sure at least some of them are from … Continue reading