Jesus was a badass.
That was my take-away from my weekly religious instructions as a child. I’m pretty sure that’s not what they were going for. But still, even as a kid I saw him as the subversive, rebel-genius that he was and I loved him for it!
I had forgotten this until recently.
It was during the recording of a recent Story Mischief that I was reminded of this major shaping influence and partial reason for my obsession with storytelling.
The episode focused on the parable of The Good Samaritan.
The scene is set in much the same way all the parables told by Jesus are, with someone asking him a question or challenging one of his teachings.
And just like that, Jesus busts out a story that up-end’s everyone’s thinking and disarms any attempt to challenge his authority. No need to raise his voice or shoot lasers out of his eyes.
His storytelling was as much a miracle to me, as raising Lazarus from the dead. Perhaps more so, because it was one that I could conceive of doing myself.
While I’m not entirely sure it would have been JC’s style, I like to picture him ending each storytelling session with a mic drop and a “peace-out bitches!” because effectively, that’s what he did. Total baller move.
Then it occurred to me, that all of my storytelling heroes share a number of attributes. Attributes that elevate storytelling to something more than even an art from.
1) No attachment to the outcome - They let the listener and the story have their own experience of one another. They don’t try to control the experience. This may feel contradictory, especially in the case of someone like Jesus trying to prove a point, but he always seemed to leave the story laying where.. well.. where he flung it.
2) Awareness of the audience - I didn’t fully understand this until I started telling stories myself, but my favorite storytellers are deeply aware of their audience. This awareness shapes how the story gets told, much in the same way the story shapes the audience. It’s the storyteller’s awareness of their audience that invokes a symbiotic relationship making it difficult to recognize who is shaping who. And yes, I am speaking of the story as if it were its own living being. Because it is.
3) Adaptability - The best of the best have an uncanny ability to move with the moment. They’re able to seamlessly weave unexpected occurrences into a story and make it seem as though it was a part of the story all along. A strange noise, the appearance of an animal, a shift in light…It’s this ability that makes every telling of a story a first and last event allowing the teller to never tell the exact same story twice.
These are only a few of those qualities I recognize in the great storytellers.
My hope is, if I can develop and master these skill within my own storytelling, who knows…maybe I’ll give walking on water a try next.
“Dad… that guy’s kissing your truck.”
I looked over at the flurry of workers drying and shining its' glass and tires.
Sure enough, one of the carwash attendants was literally kissing the back windshield of my truck. More accurately, he was kissing a sticker on it…kissing it as though it were the Pope’s ring.
I had one of those ‘WTF?’ moments before realizing what was going on, and at once, it seemed like the most obvious thing in the world.
I knew then, I had created something genuinely powerful.
I just had the sticker printed. A whole box of them in fact. It was of my own design. My own personal talisman in the form of a pirate flag. A flag that would serve as more than the symbol of my Original Medicine. It was a touchstone. An energy source. A charging station.
The flag reflects back to me, the story I tell myself about who I really am. It also kicks me in the ass when I fail to tell myself the story and instead, fall into the rut of complacency and smallness. Which I do, unfortunately. But less so as time goes on.
"The Black" serves as a powerful talisman for me.
The idea of a pirate flag tells the story of my devotion to the rebellious freedom that lives inside of me. The skeleton is a reminder of the short time we have in this life - so get off your ass and live it!
The lightning is how I strive to strike, powerfully and accurate. And the snake... the snake is a symbol of renewal and transformation. A symbol often misunderstood which in my opinion, makes it even more potent.
All parts together, the flag represents my commitment to living fully and connected to my Original Medicine.
Having a vibrational “tuning forks” like this one, helps put me back into relationship with my power. My ability to play, imagine, create, set boundaries, and serve.
As the drying and shining was completed, the workers trailed away one by one, on to the next car. One person remained behind, smiling. I put my hand on his shoulder, looked him in the eye and thanked him.
“No. Thank you,” he said, and I climbed in my truck and drove away, grinning.
Make your own flag. Or mandala. Or symbol, figure, banner. Whatever works for you. Heck, go get a tattoo if it pleases you. Put some genuine thought and effort into it. Create something that reflects the story of who you are when you are firmly seated in the center of your truth. Don’t do it for anyone other than yourself. Finally, be mindful of where you put it. You don’t want complete strangers kissing it. Or…maybe you do.
Harry never actually draws blood.
At best he just startles you. In most cases he ends up starting himself too.
Harry...Harry Potter to be exact, is my daughters cat. She received him last year for Christmas.
You can’t not love this cat. He’s sweet, affectionate and as I suggested, will attack the shit out of you when you least expect it.
It’s a little game he likes to play and oddly, playing it with him has taught me to be a better storyteller. Or should I say…story seller?
Here’s how the game usual goes:
I catch Harry staring at me. His body language suggests he’s considering whether or not to make a meal of me. It’s both adorable and somewhat menacing at the same time. The whole scene is straight out of Clavin and Hobbes.
I tilt my head to initiate the game.
He crouches into a ball.
I allow my gaze to land on him. No direct eye contact mind you. I’ve learned that direct eye contact will break the spell causing the beast to roll onto his back and act like he wants his momma to change his diaper. So weird.
The partial eye contact is critical.
I slowly begin to hide myself from his view. It’s important to leave something of yourself showing, however. Just enough to make him think he might lose his chance if he waits too long.
His pupils dilate like giant black moons: the point of no return.
The moment is both tense and exciting. Even though I know exactly what’s about to happen. The explosion of energy never fails to scare the ever loving’ bejesus out of me.
Harry makes the attack and I scream like a two year old.
The game is over. No one’s harmed. Both of us feel like we’ve won.
I remember a time when marketing my business was legitimately frightening for me. I hated talking about myself and avoided getting to know what my prospects wanted... what got them excited.
If someone wanted what I had to offer great. If not... their loss.
This attitude was a defense mechanism.
Marketing myself was anxiety provoking for me. I blamed my inability to understand my audience on my audience. Text book projection and a recipe for failure.
But now marketing has become something of a game. The same one I play with Harry. Learning about what your clients want, what gets them excited and telling the story that inspires them to take action… it’s a necessary part of the process. One that has become one of my favorite parts of growing my business today. Here’s a little challenge to help make it more fun for you:
Let’s start by keeping the stakes low. Don’t practice this with your business just yet. Practice with someone unrelated to your work. It will likely make this easier for you so you can experience it as play and then you can translate the lessons to your business, later.
Your challenge is simple: build up someones desire for something. It can be anything from a chocolate chip cookie to… um… whatever. Sell them a story they can't refuse. But make sure you can deliver the goods or you may loose their trust.
I make videos about the things I and the people I serve, need to hear.