For me, the path to storytelling was an arduous one at first. I didn’t trust my own experience and instead looked to others to help define my vision. Many people I met along the way offered mentorship in the form of advice; specifically, they told me to avoid the touchy-feely trap of storytelling. They told me that businesses need tangible, concrete proof when it comes to communicating their message. They need fail-safes, messages that had been tried, tested and true. They want a formula.
For the first few years of my business, I tried to figure out that very formula. And to be honest, it worked out rather well. I collected stories, pulled out key messages, and created content that was keyword optimized or 140 character friendly. Yet, something was missing. An essential ingredient that I found in my Story Harvesting was being left out.
Part of my job is to talk to people. At my wedding party in May, a friend poked fun at me and my husband, describing to everyone what it is like to attend a Farmers’ Market with us. Yes, we do stop at almost every stall, and yes, we do talk to the farmers’ and artisans, asking questions about their business. Alright, sometimes we talk about other things, like what life events led them to open a Kiwi farm in Abbotsford. We love to hear their story. I see myself more as a story listener than storyteller.
So, when my clients enlist my support to talk to, or rather listen to, their staff, their clients and their friends, I take that very seriously. I’m not looking for a sound bite or a twitter post, I’m looking for something deeper, something pure and from the heart. When I find it, I know. I can’t go in with a list of questions and force that truth-telling to take place. I need to let my own guard down, share my vulnerability, and create a space where trust is present and stories are honoured.
In recent talks with friends and fellow entrepreneurs, we’ve talked a lot about ceremony and ritual. We talk about how we miss out on moments of celebration; we forget to acknowledge a new piece of wisdom, or we downplay a victory for fear of tooting our own horn. Yet, ceremony and ritual is how we get to fully absorb our significance, our contribution to the world. I now try and carve out time every week to honour my own growth, and to celebrate that growth with my community. Having a Breakfast Club with four other inspirational female entrepreneurs is a giant leap in the right direction
My interest in Mythology is deeply rooted in ceremony and ritual, and my goal for this year is to weave more of that into the work I do for others. In a few weeks, Amy Hartzler and I will co-present a workshop at Hollyhock’s Social Venture Institute on this very topic, and I will honour the occasion by having a moment of quiet amongst the old growth trees, absorbing the wisdom that flows in and out of each of us.