Showing posts from 2017

Storytelling Your Career: Finding the Stories

Storytelling Your Career: Finding the Stories “But I don’t have any stories!” As a storytelling professor, I’ve heard this many times, and every time I have the same thoughts: everyone has stories, but some people just haven’t noticed them or developed them yet. While we tell stories every day, we may not think of them as such, nor do we structure them in ways that would make sense beyond our closest friends and loved ones. But the good news is that our minds inherently think in story. So, whether or not we know it, we all have plenty of stories to tell. Mining Your History for Stories When the pressure is on, especially when we are launching new careers or contemplating big transitions, it can be much harder to identify the stories we need to tell. For this kind of storytelling, we want to mine our successes, triumphs, and learning experiences. After all, we want to present our work in the best possible light while being truthful about our experiences, free from exaggeratio

Storytelling Your Career: The Basics

Sometimes the most basic forms of creativity are the most difficult to master. For many of us, this comes up when we attempt to tell the story of our career, whether aspirationally or in retrospect. In forms such as cover letters, personal statements, or research/teaching statements, we strive to mobilize our stories.   We attempts to go beyond flat descriptions of our goals or accomplishments and toward a vivid sense of our commitments and abilities in action. This is usually much harder than it sounds. Stories are about action. True stories from our own experiences require us to step outside of ourselves and focus on what these stories mean about us from the perspective of someone else. That someone else may be considering hiring us, evaluating us, or trying to assign us work that best fits with our abilities. In other words, they are taking action. We tell our stories to show how we are able to take action to gather data, solve problems, and advance the mission of our workplace

From Trouble to Struggle

  If you want to tell a story from your life, Donald Davis says: look for trouble. I've been talking with workshop participants lately about person, place, and problem as a basic set of necessary (but not necessarily sufficient) story elements.(1) The trouble comes with this word, "problem." Sometimes we tell stories that have an obvious problem, where we or the protagonist encounter an obstacle, barrier, or a mean old villain. If all stories had obvious villains, it would be easier to develop them as stories! But much of the time it's hard to identify exactly what the problem is, especially if you're doing something like telling a story related to your career, your path to success, or your organization's successes or challenges.   Sure, you know you need some trouble to keep the audience interested, but is it really okay to talk so openly about a problem? If you or your organization has faced a serious problem, then you might not feel comfortable talking a