This article is by Samir Selmanovic, the newest member of Get Storied team! Please welcome him with a comment below.
Why I Joined Get Storied
I’ve spent my life studying “the other.”
Always living in the places in-between. Growing up in the Balkans with a Muslim father and Christian mother in an atheist society, I was born into the world where the ability to embrace diverse perspectives was a matter of survival.
It was in high school, in former socialist Yugoslavia, when I first discovered the power of transgressing the conventional boundaries of re-interpreting and telling of official stories. While producing a counter-cultural play, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, my tiny creative tribe in an Information Technology Prep School managed to lead business leaders, public officials, and independent artists in a year-long staging of this traveling production—consisting of a twenty-member choir, a rock band, a dancing troupe, and fifty art projects—across the country. Our team wound up as finalists in a national competition!
Our against-all-odds success has convinced me that stories can transform the world (I choose to believe we made a teeny-tiny contribution to the collapse of the Berlin Wall!) and nothing has ever been the same since.
I went on to suffer through a B.Sc. in Structural Engineering and then went off to graduate school in the United States to study psychology and religion. I wanted to know what moves us. What are the systems of which we are a part? What gives us meaning? Instead of building bridges as an engineer, I went on to construct stories that sustain lives and build organizations.
Ten years in New York City, four years in Southern California, one published book (It’s Really All About God), one non-profit, and experience with 50 organizations later, have led me to this rooted and exhilarating space of transformational storytelling. In the last six months, Michael Margolis helped me put the pieces together and see how stories are making and re-making our world. And that’s why, last month, I joined Get Storied!
The other is a necessary part of our own story.
It’s easy to just focus on the things we share in common. That’s the usual goal when bringing people together of varied backgrounds. Yet, we often forget to equally embrace our differences. Consider the following:
The other has the power to see what you cannot see, and to say what you cannot say. At first this will naturally scare or threaten you. Yet, where we differ is precisely the most potent place for learning and innovation. Imagine if you could embrace the message and witness what the other has to share?
Whether it is a company, sports team, congregation, or political party, now every tribe needs to engage the outsider. The boundaries of insider versus outsider are becoming more permeable. To accommodate this reality, organizations of every size in every sector or industry are facing reinvention. Organizations are walking (or staggering) towards the inevitable rediscovery of their own place in the world and the need for a larger more encompassing story.
And therein lies the challenge. In his latest book, The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt illustrates in vivid detail the latest psychological, biological, and anthropological research on morality and relationships between human communities. Haidt concludes that our ability to consider perspectives other than the one of our own group (a.k.a. tribe) is a major human deficiency. The way our brains are wired, we suck at this.
Stories have always been the DNA source code of human connection.
We live in a disruptive age where technology has exploded the number of connections in our lives. On this shifting ground of identity, we are all struggling to redefine the very notions of friendship, family, and kinship. We can choose more aspects of who we are (or want to become) then ever before. Our identities have never been so malleable and intertwined with identities of others.
- How do you find your place in the world?
- How can you know who you are when everything is changing?
- How can you tell a bigger story that embraces the other?
This is bewildering. Yet, according to Sufis, bewilderment is pregnant with new life. While scary at first, there is a great power in opening up to the presence of the other. I have come to believe that to survive and thrive in this newly interdependent reality we must and we will become good at new modes of relationships.
The Aspiration of Get Storied
At Get Storied we do not merely teach organizations and individuals to use stories as tools for success. Rather, we aspire to work on foundational level. Just as modern science has decoded the human genome, we are exploring the DNA source code of human connection. We are attracted to the intersections where different worlds come together and where the biggest leaps in human innovation and ingenuity typically occur.
At Get Storied we are committed to truth, heart, learning, humility, and risk-taking, as we help organizations anticipate and align themselves with their emerging and exciting future. I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to be a part of this organization.