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How Leaders Use Personal Stories to Make a Tangible Difference

leadership, Storytelling 1 Comment

The forthcoming book that I referred to in the last post—about how individuals use their personal stories of identity to influence those around them—opens with an example from the career of Barak Obama, a tale that demonstrates how telling his personal stories propelled him to prominence on the US political stage.  My co-author and I thought long and hard about whether or not we should use such a powerful world leader as our initial vignette. On the one hand, we want to emphasize that this is not a book about politicians, or even about people who lead from positions of authority. Our goal was always to write a book for everyone who wants to … Continue reading

A quandary about my next book

leadership, Storytelling Leave a comment

Other than a hectic travel schedule and my recent philosophical ramblings—on Albert Camus, Sisyphus, Marcel Proust, and the like—a matter on my mind these past weeks has been what to do with my latest book, on storytelling and influence. As many of you know, this is not a new project, but rather something I have been working on for more than five years.   The draft of this book was ready to show to publishers more than six months ago. However, the manuscript stayed on the proverbial “back burner” for a good while, as I was extremely busy with travel and some absorbing new client work. Recently, though, I began … Continue reading

Association and assimilation

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The coaching I do with individuals often involves sifting through their life experience in an effort to identify their core values and deepest convictions. These deep dives into the past then allow us to focus on telling personal stories of identity that express one’s true nature, the values and beliefs that define “who we are”. This type of personal storytelling is among the most powerful tools for inspiring and influencing our groups, in a work setting or elsewhere.  As I described briefly last time, one of the elements I find most fascinating about this process is its Proustian aspect, the moments of self-discovery when people drift into a sort of reverie as they describe … Continue reading

Unexpected revelations from within

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Every so often, I make a discovery—have a revelation, as some would say—that really should not be one. In other words, I am reminded of something that I either have known, or should have known, all along. Such was the case immediately after my van ride to the Denver Airport with Otis in January. My “revelation” was that a small event or innocent conversation can stimulate a long and deep line of reflection, leading to numerous moments of both voluntary and involuntary recall, in a somewhat Proustian way.  Why should this not have been a revelation? Well, if there is one phenomenon that I have experienced over and over with clients, it is … Continue reading

Madeleine cakes and memories

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One of the master works of the 20th century, and one of my personal favorite novels, is À la recherche du temps perdu, a seven volume tour de force by French literary giant Marcel Proust (1871–1922). In English, it exists in two translations, each with a vastly different approach and end product: In Search of Lost Time and Remembrance of Things Past.  Early in the novel, the narrator states that he once had few memories of his early childhood weekends, which he spent at the home of his aunt Léonie in the village of Combray. In fact, the memories of Combray and his aunt had lain dormant for many years, until one day when the taste and scent of … Continue reading

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