Geoff told us the story of his shoes.
He needed to quickly buy the outrageously expensive (now somewhat beaten up) deck-shoes when he found himself in an Adriatic sea port and was invited onto a gorgeous yacht by a glamorous millionairess he had just met in a bar.
We listened intently as an amazing drama unfolded...
Actually, it turns out that the shoe story wasn't quite accurate... But he had another one... and another one... and another one...
Soon, we were all telling stories about our shoes. There were feasible stories, outrageous stories, hysterically funny stories - and that was the point. If we could imagine brilliant, compelling stories about something as mundane as a pair of shoes, what stories could we envision for the future of our organisations and how could we take the first steps to make that future vision come alive?
Geoff runs the Centre for Narrative Leadership where he helps leaders to tell the kinds of stories that genuinely engage and inspire listeners. He says that leaders need to tell a story that is authentic and compelling though don't need to be flashy or particularly charismatic. There is a fundamental principle here:
"Be clear about the ground you are standing on when you claim that something matters: the truth is that if it doesn’t really matter to you then, however facile or skilled a storyteller you are, it won’t matter to anyone else either."
When we tell good stories, they act on us a three different levels:
- They help us to make sense of our lives and define our sense of self.
- They build relationships, bringing groups and communities together.
- They free our sense of what is possible and desirable in the world.
It was a joy to tell the visual story of the group through the photographs I made - the participants told great stories of their own, engaged each other and developed their relationships - especially important for their worlds of cross-functional leadership and public-sector partnership. Significant, far-reaching stories were told as their collective vision unfolded...
I'm going to Islington next month for the launch of Geoff's new book 'Coming Home to Story'.
I know that Geoff travels as far afield as Japan, Spain and Canada as he tells his stories. I met him as he came back from a few weeks in Greece.
But, Islington... November? I wonder what new stories he will have about those shoes...?