Australians by and large enjoy a good “yarn” or story.  My writing has in many ways honed my storytelling skills, especially now that I’ve been faithfully creating, and publishing a weekly story since Aug 2011.  Who would of guessed that I would still be writing a weekly blog more than seven years after it all began.  Definitely not me.  I mean to say who has that many stories???  🙂

So on that note, let me share a story with you that caught me totally by surprise recently.  I was having a conversation with an older gentleman who’d I’d only just met and towards the end of our conversation he looked me square in the eye and said “you’re a troubadour aren’t you”?  I must admit that he threw me for a loop and I felt a little sheepish as I didn’t really know what a troubadour was…   Yikes, a tad awkward, especially from a so called writer!

All I could do was thank him in the hopes that it was a compliment.  Geez!   Yep, I had to look it up after the conversation.

Actually it means a knightly storyteller or poet, and is a French term derived from the  middle ages (13th and 14th century). It certainly is an interesting term, clearly old fashioned and rarely used one to today’s world.  Had he been drinking I thought to myself???  I mean its just not something that you just throw into a conversation in passing, especially with someone you’ve just met.

Although his comment did get me thinking about how I use storytelling in my everyday conversations.

Luckily, the art of storytelling seems to come quite naturally to me, perhaps its because I’m an observer of life, and an unabashed people watcher, one of my favourite things to do, especially when traveling.

Strangely I’ve never tired of finding a story to tell, whether they be about places I’ve visited, my life with Zach and Sam or just my adventures, nope always got something to say.  Some might say its my biggest weakness or my strength depending on their personal point of view.  I definitely think its a plus… 🙂

I mean to say who doesn’t like a good story.

As an example when I was in Kyoto recently, after arriving at my hotel I asked the clerk at check in if there was and ATM machine close by where I could get some money.

The clerk smiled sweetly and said 7-11.  I was a bit flummoxed by her response, so I said it again “no, no I need to get money from an ATM machine”, to which she replied 7-11.  At this point, I was still confused and so spelled it our slowly for her A..T..M and began to fish the debit card from my wallet.  I’m sure at this point, she thought this guy is a complete moron, but she kept her composure and continued to smile .

This was the moment that I wished I knew the term for ATM in Japanese I thought to myself, but reading my mind she leaned in and said in a conspiratorial whisper “the ATM for international cards is at the 7-11 around the corner from the hotel”…

OMG I could have shrunk under the counter in embarrassment!  Red faced I thanked her profusely and slunk out of the hotel to the 7-11 around the corner.  Oi vey! 

Everyone who I’ve told that story to has almost peed their pants laughing at my ignorance, me along with them by the way.

Clearly not all stories have to make you the hero or paint you in a perfect light, in fact I’d argue that having the ability to stand back and laugh at yourself is an important thing to do.

After all, who wants to be only seen as perfect all the time…too much pressure keeping up appearances for starters, but more importantly where is the reality in that.  How can you live an authentic life if you don’t trip up occasionally and then live to tell the tale?

I started my journey of writing a story a week to ensure that Zach and Sam and their kids would know who I was and the life I’ve lived, never imagining that its become a way of life for me.  What I found was a gift and passion for storytelling…

For me storytelling is at the heart of everything I do, whether it be via the spoken word during a keynote address, the imagery that I capture with my camera or through my weekly blogs the common thread are stories through various forms of media including my consulting.

As a consultant the ability to provide context, background and future direction via the use of a storyline is really important and personally helps me frame my thinking when meeting with executives, leading teams or managing large complex programs.  For me, it just comes naturally without thinking.

Yes, I’m fortunate but also realize that I can’t take my storytelling skills for granted and therefore I’m constantly looking for ways to improve my communication skills.  Perhaps that’s the reason, at least subconsciously why I embarked on a year of studying Improv comedy at the Second City.

Yep, it appears that all roads lead to Rome for me, both literally and figuratively!

So don’t be shy, everyone has good stories to tell…

You go first!