- Times you’ve shined
- Times you’ve blown it
- Your mentors
- Books, movies, folk tales, news articles and other third-party sources
You’ll notice that the first three buckets draw on your own personal experience. While I believe we all do have our own stories to tell, my favourite bucket is the biggest one – bucket #4.
We each have only a limited number of personal stories worth sharing. No matter how eventful and interesting your life has been, your supply of stories is ultimately finite. Go into bucket #4, however, and you’ll never hit the bottom.
Bucket #4 – You’ll never hit the bottom
To be honest, I’m surprised that Simmons lumps all external sources into a single bucket. I guess it’s for the sake of simplicity. But the result is a disproportionate emphasis on personal stories. Yes, they can work well. Just beware that if you only ever tell personal stories, you risk coming across as self-absorbed. The way to avoid this potential pitfall is simply to choose the story that best makes your point, regardless where it came from.
You can share:
- Stories about yourself
- Stories about people you know
- Stories you’ve heard or read
- Stories you’ve made up (provided it’s ethical to do so)
Great artists steal
The story I shared in my last post is one I actually stumbled upon in Chicken Soup for the Soul. I made sure to fact-check the story. Then I re-wrote it in my own words whilst correcting some of the inaccuracies I’d found in the Chicken Soup version. That’s the beauty of stories – while the core essence remains intact, every speaker can offer a unique telling of it.
I also noticed that I’m not the only one to steal a story from Chicken Soup for the Soul. In one of the most viewed TED Talks of all time, Sir Ken Robinson shared a funny story about a little girl drawing God (3:44).
The joke took only 30 seconds out of his talk but it served a purpose. Robinson peppered his talk with short stories – and to great effect. From Chicken Soup to his family life to world renowned choreographer, Gillian Lynne, his stories come from a variety of sources.
Inside the 4th Bucket…
Stories are everywhere, waiting to be found, waiting to be shared. Read books and autobiographies; Read or listen to interviews; Follow the news; Look back into history; Talk to people – ask questions and listen to their stories. You’ll often be amazed by what you find.
Writing stories is hard. Finding stories is easy.