Without imagination we would not have the wheel, nectarines, or the internet.
Everything there is today once was an idea.
We can get to results and find solutions by rigorous brainstorming, fact listing, analyzing, and weighing the pros and cons.
A strenuous procedure sometimes leading to a dead end.
Or, we can play.
‘Play is the highest form of research’ according to Einstein.
This is where storytelling comes in.
Storytelling – apart from its rich tradition from before book printing was invented – is an open invitation to free the mind and dive into the ocean of inspiration without any strings attached.
Strings like, ‘This story better makes sense!’ ‘This story has to lead to a real solution.’ ‘This story can stand comparison.’
Storytelling can meet all the above ‘string criteria’ as we can see in today’s business world, where companies convey their worth and mission in a story that connects to potential customers.
In the same vein personal branding is focused on telling your story and be the poppy that sticks out of the field.
And looking into the (mostly outdated) educational system that our young generation has to tackle, storytelling can offer many benefits starting with an increase of vocabulary, memory training and listening skills.
However, all this, to my mind is using storytelling as a tool to a means to an end.
Let’s go one step back, a step closer to the core of storytelling: imagination and creativity.
This is where the value of this endeavor lies.
When we enter the arena of storytelling we free mental space (sometimes the storytelling guide has to explicitly allow us to do this).
Feed mental space that enables us to distance ourselves from the usual and often incessant thoughts-deluge we are experiencing daily.
A free mental space that is the playing field for imagination.
A quiet mind-space.
Without ‘shoulds’ or ‘do’s’ or ‘don’ts’.
All we do is let ideas, images, senses come into this space and take it from there.
The mere intention of creating a story is often enough to get the inspirational ball rolling.
‘The creation of something new is not accomplished by intellect but by play’ as C.G. Jung points out.
We can surprise ourselves with insightful stories by letting go of performance focused doing and competitive thinking.
When the mind is relaxed so is the body and it is then that our inborn creativity can become active (again).
Each one of us is a storyteller.
All we have to do is start with a story, i.e. ‘yesterday I observed something curious….’ Either we actually had observed something curious or we make it up as we go, i.e., ‘two raw eggs were sitting on a seesaw…’ we can continue with pure non-sense; or, ‘an old man in a park in deep conversation with a policeman…’ just continue the story without having a particular end in mind.
As we let the story flow from moment to moment it will develop into a unique creative piece and it will either have an end or remain open.
The choice is always ours.
With this approach we gently (re-)activate our creative spark that often had lain too long under the blanket woven of ‘making a living’, ‘fitting in’, ‘meeting expectations’, etc.
Storytell for our own sake first.
It is from this colourful and solid plateau that we then can venture out and apply our skills to the many wonderful benefits that storytelling has for children and adults alike, for families, couples, friends and colleagues.
This process – oriented approach allows uniqueness and individual expression to shine through to the advantage of everybody else.
It allows an easy change of perspective (i.e., from real life scenario switch to describing it as a fairy tale).
It is ‘Thoughts without borders’ – ‘Des penseés sans frontières’.
Storytelling is more than the current hot bandwagon.
Storytelling can be a lifelong companion that grows with us, that gets wiser as we age.
And if we take the time and write down our stories they will still be read and have an impact long after we are gone.