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What’s your Story?

September 16th, 2013 by Suzanne Sweeney

“When he was nearly thirteen my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.”

The first line of my favourite book “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. Stories and storytelling is something that has been implanted in us many times since we were little and heard our first stories. We’ve read good books, seen films and attended plays. Stories have captured our hearts and minds, bringing clarity, meaning and humanity to complex messages. Stories can motivate, can spark the imagination and can inspire solutions. They can challenge perceptions, re-shape beliefs and influence us to behave differently.

If you have ever been to a Windmills session you will know that stories play quite a big part in our workshop delivery and stories and storytelling we believe are essential to help us bring to life the issues we are discussing. We think of stories on a continuum ranging from little ‘S’ to big ‘S’. The little ‘S’ of stories are anecdotes, examples, recounting something that happened; perhaps you are a new Windmills Champion and if so we encourage you to start with the small S and begin to build your story base for when you need it later. The big S are the more well known legends, fairy tales, epics’ and hero’s journeys. They have their place but as practitioners may not be as relevant to the points we are trying to emphasis.

Increasingly being used in business settings, stories are forming part of our tool-kit when supporting the development of others. Cognitive psychologists describe how the human mind, in its attempt to understand and remember, assembles the bits and pieces of an experience into a story, beginning with a personal desire, a life objective, and then portraying the struggle against the forces that block that desire. Stories are how we remember, how we make sense of what we do and why we do it. We remember them, pass them on, learn from them and act on them.

We are going to be using storytelling and narrative as a theme in our event this year when we will be at The Museum of Liverpool where the story of Liverpool is told. Against this backdrop of a city’s story, we want to explore storytelling for the individual – how do I make sense of my own story and in so doing how does this influence me in the present and future. What are the stories of the organisations we work in and how does my personal story link with my professional one. How can I build personal resilience by understanding my story? How can I use my skills to engage others in sharing their stories?

A major design addition to our new website has been the many inspirational and motivating stories from individuals and organisations who have used Windmills. Why not take a look and see?

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