Stories are powerful: establishing commonality and pulling us into different emotional states with their immediacy and power. Stories are a great way of sharing ideas and vision and a great tool to use in learning. Which made me thing about how stories have inspired me, what stories do i listen to and how do i respond to them.
I love travel stories: tales of adventure and discovery, ones that chart journeys through distant lands where adventurers huddle in frozen tents listening to blizzards or batting away mosquitos. Travel writing has the power to take you on a journey, to let you sit by the fire with a whisky but explore the Amazon or take flight in a biplane across China. Travel writing is gritty, full of sights and smells that titillate at a distance, that allow us to explore from our armchairs. And do travel stories make me want to explore myself? Maybe so, they certainly inspire me to find out more: they pique my interest in distant places.
And other types of stories: biographies. What drives us to want to know more about other people? It’s intensely personal to read about someone’s childhood, their highs, their lows, their loves and their tragedy. Of course, autobiography is subjective, as much a view of how one wants to be perceived as how one actually is. But biography is hugely popular and indeed i find my shelves full of books about other people. Some historical, many contemporary. Sometimes my interest is voyeuristic, living the life of a rock star through the pages, whilst at other times it’s a fascination with what others have achieved.
Yet other stories are factual, scientific or business related. What i take away from these differs greatly. Sometimes it’s inspiration and sometimes it’s practical learning: what made this person or venture successful whilst that one failed. How does this work whilst that is still a mystery?
For many people, stories are more than just entertainment: biblical stories and stories from the Koran give people guidance and structure to live their lives, providing them with inspiration and support as well as shared sense of purpose and membership of a wider community, united by belief.
Think about how easily we engage with stories, how powerful they are, from tales of adventure and derring do, through to the plot of the soap opera. It’s a great idea to use stories in learning as we so naturally engage with them. What stories have inspired you and what have you learnt from them?