The wisdom in storytelling

Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today ~ Robert McKee

In many cultures, the passing down of history and wisdom has come in the form of stories. Story-telling in coaching and training is useful as it allows the listener to reflect and find individual and relevant meaning in the story. A story lingers in your memory for a longer period, and also can reveal multiple levels of wisdom as circumstances change. Here is one of my favourite stories (author unknown).

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them. “Not very long,” answered the Mexican. “But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American. The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family. The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?” “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs . . I have a full life.”

The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.” And after that?” asked the Mexican. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican. “Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American. “And after that?” “Afterwards? Well my friend! That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!” “Millions? Really?

And after that?” said the Mexican. “After that” the American smiled, “you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”

Upon reflection, what in what way is the story that you’re telling yourself empowering you? In what ways are they creating stress and worry?

About Racheal: I work with leaders to build resilience and create strategies to become more effective.

An Organisational Psychologist, and Executive Coach, I have worked with leaders internationally. I have a curious mind, an adventurous and open spirit, and a love for people development. I believe that through engaging our passions and embracing our gifts we can create meaning and find our purpose. And through our journey of self-awareness and development we offer the world our very best authentic self.

I am creating an online platform to connect and grow leaders. You will find mentorship stories from senior leaders, learn how to become more resilient, and have access to bite size leadership lessons. Please connect if you would like to learn more.

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