I’m pretty lucky. I’ve spent most of my life surrounded by magnificent story-tellers. When I was young it was my dad, then it was all the creatives at my agency. Like most of you, hearing both true stories of the past and the ones with a few fictional tweaks taught me everything I needed to know. I learned right and wrong and the tools I needed to bounce back when life threw me a curveball.
If you look back in history, stories have always been used to pass down knowledge, values and wisdom to the next generation. Nothing has really changed today, except maybe the medium. The truth is that whether you gain your stories through fabulous insights from videos (take a look at Soul Pancake on YouTube), books or better yet the stories of your past, these tales have the power to shift our perception and even our direction.
When I speak to parents or educators I often encourage them to go back to telling more stories/examples from their own lives as a way of building resilience, tools and skills in the young people around them. I guarantee you if you ask someone about a story you told versus a lecture, they’ll remember the former, and it will have made a deeper, more powerful impression.
While I try to encourage all of us to tell more stories to our kids (ask my son how surprised he was when I told him my adventures taking on a 250 pound bully) I also think it’s really important to get them practicing their storytelling skills as well.
Get the young people in your life recounting times, places, trips or parts of their favourite movies and what they learned. Communicating a good story is as important as any other skill and allows people to create mental connections to ideas/actions. I believe it’s an even more critical skill to cultivate in young people today when we take into account the information overload we face. People who know how to tell good stories will be even more memorable.
Storytelling is a skill you cultivate through practice, but it’s also one that provides hours of fun and doesn’t require money, just imagination and an audience. I can’t think of a stronger way for us to learn to connect with ideas and people. It’s an empowering feeling to make someone laugh or engage with them and create a common link. Some might say that storytelling is a lost art, but I beg to differ. I think we love stories now more than ever.
So, the next time you’re driving to hockey practice or making dinner try exchanging stories with the young people in your life. Make it a personal challenge to get them off their digital devices and encourage them to not only tell you stories but create photo essays and videos, which are different storytelling forms.
You might be surprised by what you hear and see, and it will give them a chance to build another set of muscles they’ll be able to use to navigate their way through life.