Telling Stories

This article was cross-posted at releasetheape.com.

I just came back from Q Los Angeles, and my brain is full of ideas and thoughts and dreams — it’ll take a month to unpack it all. But I know already what I want to do first.

I want to learn how to tell a better story.

I know the idea of stories has been around the block a few times, even in evangelical neighborhoods. But still, stories have tremendous power. The best stories tell us what the world is like, and point to how the world could be. At Q, Bobette Buster, a creative consultant to some of the biggest names in Hollywood, said that if you tell your story, then it can lead to courage and healing. But if you bottle it up, then they’re like ticking time bombs, ready to explode in destructive ways in the world around us. (Aren’t the recent events in Boston yet, among other things, another example of this? Or perhaps the wrong story believed?) We need stories to make sense of our world, and to help us picture a better one. No wonder storytelling, especially in movies, is a multi-billion dollar industry.

We need stories to live.

Now, when I talk about telling stories, I don’t just mean sitting on a stool, and weaving together a good yarn of a tale for a night at the bar. Instead, we need to know how to tell our own story — why our hearts bleeds for something — and then, embody that story. In fact, according to Howard Gardner in his book on the greatest 20th century leaders, Leading Minds, the only common trait they have is the ability to tell their story and live it out.

So if you want to lead a movement, you’ll need to be a master storyteller.

For the Christian, I want to up the ante. Nancy Duarte, communications guru and author, also taught that we all carry the greatest story ever told. We live in a greater story, a bigger story. So she challenged: can’t we just take the time to learn how to communicate it well?

Here am I, clocking in.


From September 26-28, I’ll be a main speaker and a workshop leader at the Aprentis conference in Wichita, KS which has a similar theme: The Story of God & Us. Beau Crosetto, who hosts releasetheape.com will also be coming to help me lead the workshop. The conference is limited to 600, and they’ve been full at the last two conferences, so if you want to go, register soon.

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3 Comments

  1. You have me hooked…I await as you process more…I have followed both Bobette and Nancy from a distance…I hope there is a way to get copies of their talks. I’m clocking in as well…any help on becoming a Master Storyteller?

    Reply

    1. Yes. In the past, they’ve offered videos of Q talks online free of charge. It looks like they’re going to charge $50 now with Q Premier Access at qideas.org, and that’ll be available on May 31.

      As for becoming a Master Storyteller, I’ll let you know! But don’t they always advise authors: tell the truth …

      Reply

  2. Great insights here James. Your blog post reminded me of Dan Miller’s book “A Thousand Years in Millions Miles.” He also talks about the importance of living and writing a story. As a Jesus follower and Millennial, I often find myself vascillating between different stories. Outside characters suddenly jump into my life in an attempt to steer my course into another direction. I am slowly finding myself submitting myself to God alone as my storyteller who weaves the intricate tapesty into the fabric of my life. Thanks for sharing this inspiring post.

    Reply

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