Have you ever felt like an outsider?
For much of my life, I’ve felt like I’ve been navigating this journey alone. Whether it was growing up in Switzerland as a 9-year old American ex-pat, or my time as an giant nerd in the 1980’s (long before being a nerd was cool), I’ve always felt a little on the outside.
In my life, I’ve traveled through a lot of different worlds and cultures, and this feeling of separation has been a gift and a challenge. It’s given me a fresh perspective to study cultures and to observe change, but the other side of the story is that it can be a very lonely path.
Whenever you end up stepping out on your own, it can be hard to find your right community.
Whether it’s traveling through multiple cultures or ideas, charting a new path through your company, or stepping out to create your own journey, the challenge of innovation and transformation is that it can be a very lonely path. The moment you make the commitment to journey somewhere, your identity is defined around being different. You’re defined by your separation. We find strength in this identity, but it’s equally filled with sorrow and pain, because you don’t have people to share it with.
Over the last decade, I’ve found that my work in storytelling started much like my life began: traversing many cultures and ideas, charting a path that felt different than my peers.
When I first began storytelling work, it was often met with confused faces and strange looks. This was back in the day (oh so long ago) before social media really took off. CEO’s and CMO’s weren’t rapidly trying to figure out how to humanize business, and integrate transparency and storytelling into their work (at least not yet in the mainstream).
Yet in the span of less than a decade, people are starting to wake up to the power of storytelling and it’s role at the heart of all innovation, transformation, and change.
We have an incredible gift and tool at our fingertips.
We’re at the dawn of an incredible era of connection. The internet, this magical gift, lets us connect across digital wires to form our own communities. So much of the gift and promise of the internet is about us being able to find our tribe. It lets us connect with like minds, find people who care and believe in similar missions, people who are championing the same things that we do.
It’s almost like the internet forces us to realize that we’re not alone.
One of the greatest sources of human suffering is the illusion that we’re each alone.
The process of separation a great source of pain. In some ways, its almost a cultural identifier of the time and the age that we’re in.
Transformational work and change-making work involves community.
When you are called to do transformational work, and change-making work, you have to heal that wound. And you have to learn how to show up in community. You don’t have to do it all alone. I feel like we need to shout from the rooftops, in fact! It’s taken me 37 years to learn this lesson, and I’m still learning, every single day.
You don’t have to be alone!
In fact, I believe we can’t actually complete our journey and our mission without community. Loneliness can sometimes be an addiction, a trap keeping us safe in the old story, rather than being vulnerable by taking claim and ownership of the new story. In order to grow fully into our own work and mastery, we need to be in community with each other.
There’s a saying I love about this — it goes like this: “transformation requires a witness.” One of my beloved teachers, Desda Zuckerman taught me this guiding principle. The idea I’m constantly learning and re-learning is that we aren’t here to do things alone. We don’t transform or change in a vaccuum. When we grow, we grow in relation to and in community with each other.
This is the long walk home, the misunderstood (or often overlooked part) of The Hero’s Journey. In order to do the work, we need to find our tribes, we need to find our people. Part of our change work is to come back and find people we can connect with by consciously seeking out community. And if doesn’t exist, then we need to create it. Your change work doesn’t just end with you. Transformational work ripples out beyond you and your story, integrating into the tribes you join, the communities your form, and the way that you lead.
Storytelling is about relationship.
We don’t tell stories alone.
Storytelling is about the relationship between things, and the relationship between people. Stories don’t happen in a vacuum. So it makes sense that if you want to master your storytelling mojo, you gotta do it in relationship. Believe me, I started this quest as a solo journey, and I’ve learned that the power of community is what creates the magic for transformational change.
Does a story exist if there’s no one else around to hear it?
In order for your story to move, you have to tell it. Stories come alive as they are witnessed. The more people that believe a story, the more power that story has on our lives. The truth is, storytelling is intimately related to community building. One of the things that I’ve learned in my own journey is that my role in this transformational process… is to help gather this tribe. I’ve been blessed to see so many people on this path and I know that story-tellers, story-shapers, change-makers and innovators are my tribe. I know the magic of what you’re building.
It’s why the work of StoryU is so important to me. We’re not creating some plug-and-play script for storytelling. We’re building a global community. We’re building a place for people to dig in, and to connect — to themselves, to their stories, and more importantly: to each other and to our growing community.
We all have our cultures of origin.We all have stories and narratives that have long been a part of our lives … but there is this place inside of us that we’re all cultivating, deepening, and developing. Thanks to technology and the internet and social media, we’re able to do it now more than ever before. We can witness deep transformation and bring our stories together in community. This is one of the goals of StoryU Online: to create a gathering place and oasis for transformation. To master our storytelling mojo.
Why we’re building a global learning community at StoryU.
We have 120 people signed up already on this journey into storytelling transformation, and we start in a little less than a week. Our Global Learning Community includes storytellers, change makers, and innovators from all over the world.
Individuals from Argentina, Norway, Canada, Germany, Australia, Nigeria, Brazil, Mexico, Czech Republic, France, the UK, Sweden (and more!) have joined our curriculum to learn the art of powerful storytelling. In fact, 26% of our learning community is international, making our online learning space one rich with cultural nuance, exploration, and wisdom.
We’ve built a behind-the-scenes team of core storytellers and leaders, from our community team to our content magicians, who are helping to shape and guide us in community and connection. We’re inviting some of our favorite speakers and change-agents to join us on this path and offer their sage advice and wisdom in the fields of storytelling, thought leadership, verbal and nonverbal communication, and presence.
The magic that’s happening here feels ripe and potent.
We know we’re building something magical. In the next few weeks, we’re all going to roll up our sleeves and dig into this storytelling transformation. Every single voice at the table will get personalized attention and storytelling love, from our weekly live office hours, to email correspondence, to the giggles we’ll have on our community forums and Facebook Page.
And for the deeper, more serious side, I know that this community will serve as a place to bear witness to each of our own stories of transformation. Because beyond the platform, the content, or the slides, what’s blowing us away again and again is the incredible depth and wisdom held within this unfolding community. We want to empower you in your storytelling wisdom, so that people get, hear, and feel what you truly have to share.
This is our first iteration of StoryU online, and we’re so excited to be sharing it with you.
Late nights, extra chocolate, and a lot of hustle is happening to bring this to life. And we couldn’t be happier. If you’re an innovator, a change-agent, a marketer, or undergoing your own journey of transformation, know that we’re holding these doors open for you. We’d love to have you join us. With storytelling love and happiness, Michael & the StoryU team.
PS: Want to join us at one of our last free upcoming training sessions? Come join us and continue to put these insights into action.