Storytelling: A Mutual Interest

I currently have the privilege of working several groups of high talent millennial business leaders. We are focused on their leadership development and, specifically, on the development of their emotional intelligence.

In the most recent group, as we completed our inaugural three days together, I received some very valuable feedback. What they told me was that they wanted me to tell more stories, give more examples. One person said, “You told us a few and as you did, I found myself very interested and listening fully. But I wanted you to go further, to tell us more.”

Very surprising. After all, I think of myself as a storyteller. Why did they not see this? Or, more significantly, why did I hold back? I’m reflecting. I think I have held an assumption that millennials would not be interested in what I, as a baby boomer, might have to say.

But, in fact, they are telling me something quite different, quite opposite. Their feedback was that I had tons of experience and much wisdom to share. To a one, they wanted more. Wow!

As a result, I feel quickened and energized. Their feedback affirms a central intention I have held for some time now…that of becoming and being seen as a wise elder. Well, here it is! As a result I made a commitment to them that over the next year, as we work together, I will share more of my stories both verbally and in writing. “Yep,” they said, “That’s what we want.”

This feedback is an affirmation of my life and experience, yes. Nice. And, perhaps even more, it’s also an affirmation of the ancient and enduring nature of storytelling. Over thousands and thousands of years storytelling has enlivened and continues to enliven us, to serve our learning, to personally bond us with each other, and to connect us with the universal truths of what it means to be human.

These millennials and I have a mutual interest. I look to learn from them, to explore, open to, and connect with what’s emerging. They look to learn from me, to connect to life experiences and insight, to what’s foundational and perennial. I want to tell stories. They want to hear stories. Lovely.

I cherish working with these people who are decades younger than I am. In them I find much hope, courage, wisdom, humor, care…. We are in good hands.

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[Photo by Barbara, Hidden Lakes, Minneapolis, July 2016]