Ever hear a masterful storyteller at work and not only love their story but also think it’s perfect? Then, upon reflecting, you get a little jealous. After reflecting a little more you start thinking, “I wish that had happened to me.” You wish that incident had happened to you so you could tell that story.
I’m guilty. You?
What is it about their story that causes us to love it? Usually, it is because it is unique, relatable, delivered from a deep place, and has no extra words. Period. It also leaves you with a new perspective. That’s why we wish it had happened to us so we could tell a story like that. I remember hearing Craig Valentine’s closing story about the woman he met in a bookstore. I got goose bumps. Bam, story envy!
Here is what you and I need to be reminded of: The story we envy did not sound that way the first time a speaker told it. We also should remember that Most amazing stories stem from a personal Aha! or a transformation. Click To Tweet Many times personal pain is involved, too. We don’t really want to have pain just to have a great story. Ironically, we all have pain, but we aren’t always willing to mine our own pain to find those amazing stories that we carry with us each day. We lived it already. Maybe we don’t want to conjure up those feelings again, so we suppress it.
Patricia Fripp told Craig, “You have to go to that part of your life where you don’t want to go.” Ouch. Craig did. I’m sure it was painful. Craig not only found story gold, but he also found a story that inspires and helps transform other people.
I recently interviewed Craig (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOtEEtkWLIA) about how to create unforgettable moments in a presentation. He gave me an Aha! He said that to find your unforgettable stories, you have to start with the moments that are unforgettable to you. We all have many if we are willing to look. We often do not take the deliberate effort to mine them. Sometimes people have never been told to look there. If you have not heard that before, you just did.
This reminded me of the coaching I got from Mark Brown when he told me to write out every lesson that I had ever learned in my life. He asked me to go deeper by having me consider a child important in my life. I chose my nephew, Michael. He said, “If you were going to die tomorrow, what one lesson would you want to pass on to Michael to help him through his life?” I dug in and came up with 4 pages of lessons. Three-quarters of the way down the third page I found some gold. I realized that the only reason I became a comedian was because I was willing to fail. That, however, was just an idea that could lead to a golden nugget. Now I had to find the nugget, and it would still need a lot of chipping away before it could be polished. In Stage Time University I refer to that as Core 1: Finding and Structuring Content.
Finding the gold and mining it is one thing. Taking that nugget and polishing it is yet another process. This I refer to as Core 2: Creating Stories that Stick. We love to hear great storytellers tell their stories, but we are not hearing version 1.0. We are hearing that story after it has been run through a process over and over again. As Craig Valentine says, “The more we tell a story, the shorter it should get.” As we tell it over and over again, we remove excess words. We enhance the descriptors we do have as well. It’s a process.
It’s the same as seeing a comedian on a late night talk show. We sit there and marvel at their routine but forget the process they went through and the countless hours they put in, on and off stage, to get that 1, 5-minute routine tight. We envy the end result but not the work that went into creating it. That is what we should envy.
So, instead of having story envy, it would be more accurate to say we have effort and story process envy. Our jealousy should reflect our willingness not only to hone the story but also to put the energy into running the story through a process to make it a masterpiece. Don’t compare your ideas with their end result. Know that being world-class takes more energy and effort than the average hobbyist is willing to put in.
Are you willing to put in the energy and effort so that people will envy your stories?
P.S. If you are willing, you may want to check out The Secrets of Storytelling.