Storytelling Is the Trojan Horse of Wisdom


Most people, sometime in their life, enter into a period of seeking. The language they use to describe their quest may be different, but the intention is the same -- to tap into a higher dimension of knowing and become self-realized. The specific form their seeking takes is quite variable. Some go on pilgrimages. Some retreat to caves or mountains. Others join ashrams, read holy books, meditate, practice yoga, or try to find a Great Teacher.

But no matter how you slice and dice it, the underlying assumption of all these seeking strategies is pretty much the same. "There is something I don't know. There is something I've not yet experienced. There is a deep wisdom I need to find." And so begins the hero's journey. Or the heroine's.

And while all this seeking sometimes leads to the kind of awakening the Great Masters have been talking about since the beginning of time, methinks there is a complementary, start-where-you are strategy that also needs to be considered -- not to replace the classic quest for Knowledge, but to help seekers understand that they already have, within them, much of the wisdom they are seeking. It's just hiding.

And where it's hiding is in story -- those magical, memorable, tellable moments of truth that have already happened to us -- times when the light went on and we connected to a timeless knowing, even if the catalyst for that unforgettable experience seemed mundane.

Story, quite simply, is the Trojan Horse of wisdom, the shape our life lessons take, the container for all the clues we need to live a conscious life. But until and unless we open the "trap door" of this Trojan Horse, much of our potential remains unknown to us.

It's like the classic story of the poor farmer and his wife. Every day they worked the fields from dawn to dusk. Every night, for dinner, they ate boiled potato skins and shivered in the cold under the only threadbare blanket they could afford, Then, one day, the original owner of the house stopped by, escorted them into the kitchen, and lifted a loose floorboard to reveal a big bag of gold, which he then bestowed on them. For 50 years, the farmer and his wife had been walking above it, never more than a few inches away, living their lives in total poverty. But now... they were rich beyond belief.

If you like, think of your journey into the power of story as a lifting of the floorboards. What you will discover is the great treasure there and the undeniable fact that you have already learned much of what you need to know. Now all you need to do is reach in and grab your stories, explore the riches within them, and start sharing them with others. Not only will you benefit from the telling, but so will everyone else who is privileged to hear what you have to say.

It's a revolution of storytelling that's being launched, folks -- each of us coming out of the closet to share what we know and what we've learned along the way -- not to preach, impress, manipulate, educate, or bend others to our will, but to fan the flames of wisdom in a world that sorely needs it.

Mitch Ditkoff is the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions, an innovation consulting and training company headquartered in Woodstock, NY. He is also the author of the groundbreaking book, STORYTELLING AT WORK: How Moments of Truth on the Job Reveal the Real Business of Life and a much sought after keynote speaker on the topic.