I was recently asked, "So, How did you get started as a consultant in the field of Organization Development?" As I answered the question, I noted how much I was enjoying providing the answer. I realized I was enjoying telling my story.
Questions such as "How did you get started?" ask us essentially for "our story." Each of us has a story. And most enjoy telling their story when they get a chance.
Sharing stories is a useful exercise. For the audience, each story offers something, certainly information, maybe instruction, perhaps inspiration.
Story telling also shapes the teller. For the teller, the story is an act of personal identity construction, one that job hunters for instance know quite well. Every time a hiring manager says "Tell me about yourself," a job applicant is invited to tell their story.
We tell ourselves our own story continually throughout our lives. Maybe that's why so many (including me) have gotten into genealogy. We want to know our own backstory, where we came from, how we came to be here at all.
This is a lifelong process of self-creation and self-understanding.
When we share our story with others in a public setting, such as a meeting or an online discussion, we choose our words carefully and decide how much (or how little) to reveal.
When we join an intentional community, such as a support group, we tell our story to open ourselves up, to build trust and establish relationships with others. This "baring one's soul" requires courage.
As OD consultants, we can put this in our tool box and use storytelling with our clients. This is actually one of my oft-used tools when I am working with leaders and teams.
In leadership development, I encourage leaders to reflect upon, and write in journals, the stories of their journey. For example, who influenced them the most?
In team building, I facilitate an exercise around story telling to create a team story. The team looks back at the journey thus far, recognizing key events, celebrating milestones along the way, and lessons learned. Then the story continues, looking at the present story and also the possible future chapters.
How about you? How did you get started doing what you are now doing? And if you think about the next chapter in that story, what would you like it to be?
How do you want the story to end?
Posted by Terrence Seamon on Thursday June 14, 2012