From my perspective The Story Conference: influencing cultural change one story at a time goes to the heart of what makes a conference worthwhile. Ultimately it is about connecting and sharing knowledge with our peers, professions and industries. When this is done through creative and powerful storytelling it is a great thing. It is also about the stories told and shared throughout the conference, in the breaks, at lunch, via workshops. I think that’s why I enjoyed the Story Conference as much as I did. There were workshops, longer breaks, open space – both outdoors and within the program, as well as some creative community building activities which encouraged deeper connection.
And while we know stories can be used to connect, influence, move, and create positive change, the flip side is that people and organisations can get stuck in unhelpful stories; so it pays to be mindful and aware of the stories that we tell ourselves and the people around us.
Life certainly brings challenges. Being human means we will be on the receiving end of any number of good and not so good stories. As my colleague Geoff Mead from the Narrative Leadership Associatessays – “we are swimming in a sea of stories”. Indeed we do – stories of joy, sorrow, conflict, paradox, uncertainty, complexity, love, greed, compassion, anxiety, fear and hope.
Being human means we need to find ways to navigate and support ourselves, and at times the people around us, within the complexity and uncertainty that life holds. One of the ways we do that is through stories. Stories often have a starring role in how we endeavour to make sense of ourselves and the world we inhabit.
2016 has provided me with some great opportunities. Working with people can be complex, exciting, creative and at times challenging. It certainly keeps me on my toes. I have enjoyed longer-term engagement with my clients. This has allowed for a more satisfying and deeper way to engage with others and for positive change to emerge. Time is often a major factor in what can be achieved or not. Change, innovation, relationships, creative leadership and a cultivating a sense of wellbeing and flourishing can provoke feelings of uncertainty, and yet if we want change and different results we need to sit with that and work with it.
I’m also excited by the opportunity to co-edit the special edition of the International Journal of Professional Management with my colleague Dr Geoff Hill and will be released in 2017. This special edition is based on the storytelling workshop presentations from the 2016 Art of Management and Organization conference strand we co-curated and facilitated. I’ll let you know when this becomes available.
Finally, it would be remiss of me to not acknowledge that at Christmas many of us become part of a very powerful narrative in some way or another. Underneath that narrative is a mix of competing stories – of faith, beliefs, values, assumptions, and conflicting views. Whatever Christmas conjures up for you it can provoke certain demands and a range of feelings. It can also be a time to take stock and reflect on what has been and what is yet to arrive.
Christmas often means catching up with family and friends and if you are fortunate it provides some ‘chillax’ time. So while you down tools for a while, catch up on some reading and napping, I hope your heart and soul are also filled with nourishing stories by loved ones and strangers.
I’ve recently shared some great stories with strangers and have learned a whole lot of stuff I didn’t know – from a person doing multi faith peace work around the world to being shown software on an iPad which pilots use when flying air-crafts. Very interesting!
I wish you well for the Christmas season and hope that 2017 is a positive year full of stories that will move and inspire you.
And I hope we have the chance to connect in person and share some of those stories.
In the meantime
Stay safe, well and always creative