Just before Christmas I was really honoured to be asked to speak at a storytelling event at the awesome Duke Studios.
I was thrilled to take part in the event, along with a number of other storytellers.
Why did we do it ?
......other than the obvious free food and wine, coupled with the opportunity to hang out in a pretty cool, creative space ...
we were brought together with a shared belief that telling our stories would enrich other’s lives, even if the only consequence was that people learned from our mistakes, that would be a great starting point.
We also knew it would be fun, and it didn't disappoint.
Bringing storytellers together is a brilliant concept. As a storyteller you can appreciate the courage required to sit in the hot seat, so a lovely sympathetic and supportive atmosphere is created as storytellers listen to other storytellers and hopefully inspire other "would be" storytellers to take the plunge.
As bizarre as it sounds, in telling my own story, I usually learn something new myself.
Saying the words aloud gives me a new perspective and a clearer understanding of my own experiences.
Inside our own heads the words rattle around and often make little sense.
In front of an audience, however large or small, the words move from a random stream of consciousness to a story that has meaning and provokes more questions.
The more we question the more we learn.
If we live in our own little world, inside our own little box, our views become stilted and bland; our opinions prejudiced and ill considered.
We all have privileges in our lives but unless we step out of our box, they are just the norm, it’s all too easy to stop feeling grateful for what life has brought us.
Listening to the stories of others brings perspective and contrast to help us form wider and less biased views.
When I speak, I don’t mind sharing the bad, in and amongst the good.
Arguably the bad yields more powerful and lasting lessons.
The failures and the challenges are a huge part of my life and without them I would have ended up in a completely different place than the wonderful world I inhabit now.
I certainly wouldn’t have got here without one or two f*** ups along the way.
I’m not saying I now spend my whole time skipping around the happy meadow, far from it, I’m still struggling to bring all my plans and ambitions together; and sometimes struggling just to survive, never mind thrive.
However, my life is full of extraordinary people and as a consequence I regularly enjoy rich conversations and wonderful experiences.
Every now and then I do have to take stock, aka stop feeling sorry for myself, take time to appreciate the wonderful people I have around me and acknowledge my achievements to date.
It’s easy when things aren’t going too well to focus on the missing pieces rather than the completed parts of the jigsaw!
I’m working on a number of really exciting projects this year, I couldn’t have predicted any of them, but that makes them even more thrilling.
None of them would have happened if I hadn’t been prepared to put my head above the parapet, tell my story, voice my opinions and make amazing connections as a result.
I know there are a number of people in my network who are building up the courage to put their stories out there into the world; I really urge them to go for it.
People might judge but they are the lesser for it, not you.
People who are prepared to listen with open minds will learn and be the richer for it.
Your story can and will change lives, not always in a huge way but one small change may be all that’s needed to enable something amazing to happen.
I’ve often been told that my story has helped people to deal with their own challenges, when in the listening they realise that most people are struggling to a greater or lesser degree.
You aren’t struggling because you are useless or a failure, you are struggling because you are trying to do something really challenging.
Amazing is not the result of taking the easy path.
So get out there listen to others then be bold enough to share your own unique, amazing story.
Anything can happen.