There is always a reason for telling a story. Stories, after all, contain and convey our wisdom, and our intuitive knowing. They go beyond facts into feelings. They engage the whole of us--our minds and our hearts. 'By storying my life, that is, by telling about the incidents that give my life meaning I make sense out of it. I begin to connect the dots of my experience and as I do, gracefully, artistically, memorably, I invite you to go inside and begin to connect your own dots to make sense out of your own experience. Michale Gabriel Learning and Growing through Stories
I have never been any good at keeping a diary, the discipline of writing about ' myself and other more important matters' to quote Charles Handy, has never really featured in my own self-management processes. I've always told myself that there are always more important things to do. Yet I advocate the benefits of this to others and I helped develop the PDP policy that has led to the process of recording and reflecting on personal activity being systematised in higher education. But as I have begun exploring again the way our lifewide enterprise shapes who we are I can no longer avoid it, I have created a need and a purpose for it. But what is 'it?' I started about a month ago with a word diary, and I'm glad I did. Just writing stuff down in the medium I am most comfortable with is easy.
I also tried out a few free blogging sites but I found that none of them really encouraged me. Then my son recommended the weebly to me. Weebly is free (although there is a pro-version if you want to host a lot of media). I found it simple and intuitive to use and over a few days I got sucked in to creating my own website which I set up around the two these of lifelong journey and lifewide activity. I found the tools easy to use and they made me feel creative and this made all the difference to me. I felt I was creating something useful and aesthetically appealing (at least to me) and because of this I kept tinkering and playing. After a week of onscreen prompts telling me I was only 65% complete. I bit the bullet and set up a blog (which I can password protect) and I began telling my stories. I backdated it with the material I had saved in word and so it developed quickly to the point where I thought I had achieved something useful and now I find it easy to add a new story every few days.
It isn't easy to make time to do these sorts of things, and I know I have more time know than I used to, but there is a hurdle to get over called 'getting started' and this is the point at which persistence is often weakest until we reach the point of ownership, where we take pride in what we have produced. I have no idea how long I will persist but I am at least developing the habit and I have changed my will to be involved (my intrinsic motivation) because I believe I have a need and I can see value in what I'm doing. Perhaps these are essential pre-requisites for participation in PDP recording/reflecting processes.
In a world swamped by information we need the ability to make sense of our experiences and ourselves in those experiences and telling our stories to ourselves is a good way of doing this. We also need to distil, organise and communicate the complex information that makes up our life and so the capability to communicate our stories to others is important. I also think that we all need to be inspired, and there is nothing quite like someone's life stories, to inspire. So telling stories in a variety of ways and through a variety of media is a capability that we all need. Perhaps these are the less explicit reasons for the recording processes we are trying to encourage in higher education and CPD practices through personal development planning.
Most of my stories so far are text-based with the odd photo and sometimes a bit of audio. But I can see the value of using media in a more creative way to tell a story and I have made this one of my development objectives. This story, by National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones about an incident in his professional life, is one that I find really inspiring. It conveys the wisdom of someone who has thought deeply about his work, not only the technical side but the way he inhabits his work spaces and the way he sees the situation, makes decisions about what to do and how to do it and then acts to get the results that he knows will eventually emerge from his actions.
I have just come across an inspiring TED talk by Andrew Stanton a film director of some repute. He told a story about his life backwards and drew out of the story some really important points about story telling in film making. I thought there were some good points for story telling To engage me with your story - 'make me care,' ''give me the promise of a good story - a well told promise propells you forward to the end', 'make me work to work things out for myself but hide the fact', 'make me wonder how it will all conclude - give it tension', 'tell me who you are', 'enthuse wonder'...