The world in the digital Backyard

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The World in our Backyard

TRUST or How to turn Stone into Gold

Unbenannt

Once there was a village that laid on the edge of a vast mountain range. The people who lived there were very different, but one thing they shared was …  a rumor.  The rumor was about a man living in the mountains and having the magic ability to turn stones into gold. One day a young man decided to explore this story and he left the village despite all the warnings about the dangers of the mountains and the dubiousness of the rumor that he so persistently called a story.

 After a week of wandering the young hero came to a cave-like dwelling from which a thin old man stepped out seeing him coming closer. Without hesitation, the young man asked the old: “Are you the man who can turn stones into gold?” And the old man replied unexpectedly in a very clear manner: ” Yes, I am”. The young man shyly asked further: “This is certainly a very complicated process that is impossible or difficult to learn! “” No, it is quite easy” replied the old man instead.

The young man had tried to anticipate many things: not to find the man, to despair of his secrecy or not to be able to fulfill his high demands. Now he stood in front of him and everything suddenly seemed simple. So simple, that suspicions arose in him. But now he had no other choice but to put everything on one card and to believe in his good fortune. Encouraged by the straightness of the old, the young man asked him then to reveal his big secret.

To his greatest surprise the old man did not hesitate, after he sat down, to spread the mystery before him: “First you have to look for a stone. It must be a stone that really suits you. Choose him carefully and do not hesitate to take it, once you find it. Then get up to the top of the next mountain that seems most appropriate to you and wait for the full moon. Make a fire there and one hour after midnight you throw the stone in the fire and it will turn into gold before the morning dawns. “

The young man thanked the old man many times and went along his way. He soon found the right stone and the appropriate mountain. While he was waiting for the full moon, he started to doubt. “What if I have forgotten something?” “Everything goes so easily and without obstacles. Can this really be?” With the time passing, his doubts grew and he decided to go back to the old man to ask him if he had forgotten something important.

When he comes to the cave, the old man came out greeting him as friendly as the first time. “Master,” the young man began a little embarrassed, “I have done as you have told me, and I fear to have forgotten something.” The old man listened to all details of the young man’s experience and assured him that he did everything right. The young man stayed obsessed with the fear of doing something wrong. On his way off, he stopped walking, turned around and poured his doubts into a final question:

‚Master, a very last question: is there anything I should not do at all in the full moon night?
The old man took a while watching the young man thoughtfully and gave an answer he had not wanted to give: Yes, there is something you should not do at all in this night and that is …. to think of a White Bear.’

Thanks to my friend, mountain expert and co-storyworker, Wolfgang Tonninger, for sharing this beautiful tale about ‘Turning Stone into Gold’ and reflecting it into business culture work and ‘forbidden questions’ (https://almblitz.wordpress.com ). Building on this, I focus on the question ‘how could the young man not have arrived at asking the last question?’

This brings me to the phenomena of Trust. We spent much energy in control, we want to predict the unknown, to fight the fear to be disappointed. As long as we control, we are in continuous tension. But how to get to this luxury state of Trust? The following little film shows two Cirque de Soleil acrobats in their need and excellence in trusting.

 

athleticTrust

http://omele.to/11dDuIq

To trust is not an easy, but a slow and steady process. Once we are able to trust, we can relax, we can let go and live in the very moment. Let me go further and say, trust is not only a relational phenomena. Referring to the story above, the main obstacle for the young man was not that he did not trust the old man, but that he did not trust … himself? or in magic to happen?

Trust is the relationship to the unknown. So how can we turn  ‘Fear into Trust’? When we succeed to find a meaning behind crisis or challenges, we can turn fear into trust and find the strength to go through difficult situations. Working with stories is one way to open a space for dialogue and for exploration and for sharing a deeper meaning.  That is why stories are such a powerful tool in facilitating change. They are able to transform stones into gold. Trust me!

 

The Divided Brain or Why warriors need a Vision

These days, walking from one year to the other, we are invited to digest the past and imagine the future. Imagining the future activates our right brain. As you may know, neuroscientists today do not confirm our old picture of shared brain responsibilities like the left hemisphere equals to Reason and the right to Emotion. No both are involved in both processes.

I refer to Iain McGilchrist’s animation about the Divided Brain and the Making of the Western world

Luckily there is still a division of tasks, whereas the left hemisphere is taking care of the ‘already known, a narrow sharply focused attention to detail’, the right side is opening up, broad, vigilant … it is the ‘intuitive mind’. Our society tends today to the left side, whereas a balance would be much more ideal.

As Albert Einstein said: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

My Swedish storyteller friend Jerk Elmen told me some years ago the following story: Iceflowers

Once upon the time, there was a small village that had forgotten all its stories. Imagine long nights in which none of the parents told ‚good night stories’ to the children. There was no celebration, no music, young couples made no plans for their future. The people were extremely bored. And they did not find anything to eat. All nourishing fruits and vegetables around the village were grasped and they had no ideas how to get new ones.

One day, an old woman who normally lived alone in the mountains, came into the village. The villagers asked the old woman for advice. She said: ‚If you get one of the Iceflowers from the very top of the highest mountain, then your village will flourish again’. The Oldest of the village sent out their strongest and bravest warrior. He climbed on the highest mountain, found the iceflower, put it carefully in his basket and climbed back down into the village.

 The whole village welcomed him already at the entrance of the village. When he opened the basket in front of all his curious neighbors  the basket was empty. A dark splash of water was the only thing reminding of the iceflower. In the silence of disappointment, a little girl said: ‚Let me go, I want to try it’. ‚You?’ answered the villagers. ‚You are just a small girl. How should you succeed in what our bravest warrior has not succeeded in?’ But they let her go and followed each of her steps with their eyes until she disappeared in the fog. It was quite late when they saw her coming back. She smiled. Again everybody came together at the entrance of the village. ‚Where is the flower’, they asked. The girl smiled and said: ‚come with me to the fireplace and I will show it to you’.

 When everyone was sitting around the fire, she started to tell her story: ‚It was extremely cold and foggy. I could not see anything. Suddenly the fog cleared up and I could see far down until the ocean. And then I noticed the flowers, the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen directly down at my feet. They shimmered like ice crystal and seemed very tender. I kneed down, sensed their smell, but they started to smelt as soon as my nose came close to them.’ The girl told about the colors  the smells and the sounds she had experienced … and when she ended her story, the whole audience could see the iceflowers and the world until the ocean. The audience felt like they had climbed up themselves and were now standing on the top oft the highest mountain. ‚Imagine…’ started a small girl. ‚Yes, imagine … ‘‚ said some others. And in this night, all of them stayed awake and told each other their dreams, wishes and visions for their future. ‚Imagine …!’

08-blick-in-die-weite

This story is a wonderful kick off to work on a Vision with a group. You may read it out surrounded with family or friends or starting back in your job with your team or colleagues. Organisations normally are well stuffed with warriors, sometimes tired warriors, sometimes they do not really understand what they are fighting for and sometimes they are just enjoying to slip in the shoes of the child … it allows playfulness, creativity and the intuitive mind entering the room.

And do we not all know ‘tired warriors’ in our busy lives? Is it not the tendency to the left brain who does not leave us enough space for dreaming, playing, seeing the big picture. Perhaps the 31st of december you go yourself on top of the highest mountain. What do you see? Dream high and bring it back to the village 2015!!!‘Imagine …!’

My warrior just whispers and wants me to mention … whenever you want my support to work on vision and its grounding, individually or in group, do not hesitate to contact me, that’s one of my jobs!

The Stonesoup : wolf, hen and community building

steinsuppen-wolf

Once there were two travelers  Tired, hungry and cold, they arrived in a small village and asked for food and lodging. One by one, the villagers either said, they had no beds or no food to share. And so the two travellers began to build a fire in the centre of the village. Over it, they hung a cooking pot filled with water and added a simple stone. What were they up to?

The first villager came over to find out. “We are making stone soup”, said the travellers. “You will see, it is delicious! Of course, the flavour improves even more with a carrot!” “I think I might have just one carrot”, said the woman. Later someone came with a potato, and then came some beans, some milk, a bit of chicken …

soon everybody was standing around the pot sharing some of this delicious soup and the travellers had a warm place for the night. “Imagine!”, the villagers said to each other, “what wonders you can create with just a simple stone!”

This beautiful version of the stone soup is crafted by the storyteller, author and story activist Mary-Alice Arthur. One of the first written versions of this folktale is the one published in the 1720 by the French journalist Madame de Noyer ‚Soupe au Callow’.  If you want to know more about its history …

http://www.stonesoup.com/history-of-the-stone-soup-story-from-1720-to-now/

There is a slightly different version published as a beautifully illustrated (kids’ )book from Anais Vaugelade with a wolf knocking on the hen’s door. Obviously, it has a special drama effect lying in this polarized wolf-hen encountering and I will use these two characters to do some story reflection.

What does the story do? The story spontaneously resonates in three different ways with me, my activity and the professional field, I am working in:

1) the wolf – a change facilitator coming from outside

sometimes the door does not open, sometimes it opens slowly,
and you understand … you are a foreigner,
why should the villagers trust the unknown, and why the hen, the wolf,
you offer your stone, it is a ‚creative act’
you initiate cooking and invite people to contribute, Not only as an act of gentleness
Also because it makes your living
sometimes you stir and taste the soup, you start to tell a story
And then you listen …
The participants share and connect, finally, it is time for you to leave.
Do you come back? We do not know.

2 ) the hen – the change knocking at my door 2 years ago

separation after 13 years of relationship
I opened the door and let the wolf in,
in a chicken naïve, also fearful and somehow trusting way, I let change happen
feeling helplessly alone With a big decision
I supported the soup cooking although the stone was not really promising
but many ‚neighbors’ came by, contributing their ingredients
… and I have to say, the new soup smells promising

3) ‘folktale advise’ on management style

Have you noticed the highly advanced leadership style of the hen (the wolf/or both)? … hosting change, inviting team members to co-create (the soup), supporting a culture of personal engagement and community building. Very visionary, don’t you think?

It reminds me of Luc Galoppin’s Ice Hockey Metaphor and ‘where the puck is heading to and change practitioners should be already’ …

ice hockey metaphor

http://www.reply-mc.com/2013/03/18/getting-serious-about-community-development-part-3/

There are many ways to work with story and story works with us? What is the story doing with you?

B-onfire!

Authenticity – The secret of True Stories

flowers

TRUTH walked into a village. The local inhabitants started cursing at him. They chased him out of the village. TRUTH walked along the road to the next town. Children ran away, hiding from it. The adults spit at him and cursed him out of town.

He walked, lonely and sad, down the empty road, until he reached the next town, still hoping to find someone who was happy to see him, who would embrace TRUTH with open arms. So he walked into the third town, this time in the middle of the night, hoping that dawn would find the people, happy to see TRUTH with dawn’s light. But as soon as they townsfolk’s eyes lit upon him they ran to their homes and then came back throwing garbage at him.

TRUTH ran off, out of town, into the woods, and after crying, and cleaning off the garbage, returned to the edge of the woods, when he heard laughter and gaiety, singing and applause. He saw the townsfolk applauding as STORY entered the town. They brought out fresh meats and soups and pies and pastries and offered them all to STORY. Who smiled and lavished in their love and appreciation.

Come twilight, TRUTH was sulking and sobbing at the edge of the woods. The townsfolk disdainfully ignored him, but STORY came out to see what the story was. TRUTH told STORY how all the townsfolk mistreated him, how sad and lonely he was, how much he wanted to be accepted and appreciated. STORY replied, “Of course they all reject you, “STORY looked at TRUTH, eyes a bit lowered to the side. “No-one wants to look at the naked truth.”

So STORY gave TRUTH brilliant, beautiful clothing to wear. And they walked into the town together, TRUTH with STORY. And the townspeople greeted them with warmth and love and appreciation, for TRUTH wrapped in STORY’s clothing is a beautiful thing and easy to behold.

And ever since then, TRUTH travels with STORY, and they are always accepted and loved. And that’s the way it was and the way it is and the way it will always be.

… and it is Truth which gives Story power and depth. The result of this marriage is authenticity. The more authentic your story as a person, team or brand the more convincing and the more touching for the audience it is.

I tell this story when I want to share what StoryWork means for me. People ask me ‘are you the storyteller’ and my response is quite clear, I am a Story Worker. I am interested in revealing true stories and as much as I am a storyteller, I am a story listener, story catcher and story creater!

 

Let your story work!

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