I always find myself wondering people’s stories.
When I meet someone new, I would rather jump right in. That’s probably the introvert in me. If you want to keep my attention in conversation, let’s talk about something with meaning. Leave the surface level topics for someone else.
Even when I meet up with friends or family, instead of asking, “How are you?” which never gets me anywhere near the truth, I would rather ask, “What’s your story?” or “Tell me something new.”
And the story always changes right? The story is ever evolving. I want to know whatever you’re willing to share.
I am eager to hear what lessons you have learned that could help me or anyone. I wonder how many would tell me if I asked questions like this. Like the stranger sitting next to me on the bus. I know asking in such a setting is not encouraged. Or what about that person on the street who intrigues me for one reason or another. What’s your story?
In a humorous way, I see myself walking through the streets like that random guy in Pretty Woman. What’s your dream??
Sometimes I just want to switch it up from Hi, how are you? Too many generic answers with no depth or truth or honesty most times. I hate that I do it too. It is such a habit to reply GOOD or FINE. What happens when we actually have a real answer but the asker already moved on?
So I love the work I do helping unemployed job seekers find work. The company culture of my office relies heavily on the power of stories.
We start every morning with a time of sharing stories in a daily meeting called Motivations. There is a new topic every day and the topic never allows anyone the chance to keep things surface level. The purpose of sharing a story in Motivations is to touch, move and inspire the group with your experience.
It helps energize everyone, gives a glimpse into your life and helps us relate more to one another. It builds community in our fast-paced work culture.
I think one of our challenges in the world today is we do not share enough with each other. We can use a lesson in walking in other people’s shoes to understand that their struggles, challenges, fears, anxieties, loves, joys, etc may not be so different from yours.
At the basic human level, we can share so much. We choose not to and instead build walls in an attempt to never welcome an “other” into our world.
Instead when we share, though our stories may still differ on many levels, we find a way to empathize and connect with one another in new ways. I do not have to live your life or have gone through all of your experiences but I can be impacted by your story.
I remember years ago I was in a grocery store line and an older couple was checking out in front of me. They said something to the cashier about being married over 60 years. So I started asking questions. Curiousity got the best of me and I was fascinated by their story.
I want to learn from the people around me as much as I can. I can only learn from people if they are willing to share with me.
Last year I was introduced to the StoryCorps organization and app. It is a cool way to capture recorded stories of anyone. You can ask them questions you create or use a pre-made list. It is a great way to do what I spent this whole post enouraging…hearing people’s stories.
I used my mom as my first subject after I downloaded the app. I learned so much more about her in just the 20 minute interview and it was inspiring and moving. I look forward to asking many more questions and learning plenty more from all those around me. I hope you will consider taking up the challenge.
So, what’s your story?