What can Ground Zero teach us about storytelling?
Is there something in your life, business or community you'd like to change?
Me too. Let's hold these things in our mind for a moment or two.
Earlier this year, Trev and I went to New York as part of our honeymoon. It was the first time for both of us. One of the 'must see' things was the 9-11 memorial. I didn't anticipate how big it would be. Nor did I realise there was an entire experiential museum beneath the giant waterfalls. In just 4 years, more than 10 million visitors have made the journey into the deep, cavernous space, which was once the foundation of the twin towers.
As Trev and I wandered around the memorial, it wasn't necessary to read the interpretative signs. Nor did we even have to speak. Looking at the mangled fire engine and twisted wall columns, some very real feelings touched us from behind a frighteningly thin veil.
I could almost hear the groan and squeal of steel folding against itself as the towers collapsed.
Beyond a doubt, it was one of the most powerful storytelling experiences I have ever encountered.
Visiting the 9-11 memorial helped me realise that storytelling is not necessarily about speaking and writing. Nor is it something we "do" to a passive audience. Storytelling is about building relationships and communities so people can drive their own change. We spark this by sharing our own lived experiences.
Does it require us to be authentic and vulnerable? Damn right it does!
But it doesn't have to be terrifying. Nor do you need have lived a '9-11 style experience' in order to motivate or inspire people. You don't have to be dramatic, either. You've just got to be HONEST and REAL. Starting with yourself.
Storytelling is at the core of what it means to be human. Done well, it can challenge and change the status quo, permanently, for good.
Storytelling can also facilitate people to find their own empowerment, so they can be their own agents for change.
You can use one, or all of these things to change just about anything you want. It doesn't happen overnight, but it does happen.