“those who tell the stories, rule the world”

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“Those who tell the stories, rule the world” — a quote attributed to both Plato and the Hopi American Indians

When I first started seeing a shrink, I had to get over my own self-consciousness about talking about myself (even though I was paying someone in order to do so). It felt so incredibly self-indulgent.

Yet the more I learn about myself, the more I learn about other people and how best to navigate the world. The large is in the small. If the world is in a grain of sand, the world is also in each one of us, if we’re brave enough to look close and be utterly, utterly honest.

Our mistake is in thinking – in being trained to think – that we are separate, isolated, and cut-off; that our experiences, by virtue of being our experiences, aren’t relevant to others; that our stories are of little value. Too confessional. Too self-indulgent.

But when you tell your story, and it resonates with another, a connection is made.

Enough connections grow into community. Or even a movement.

And that is power.

That is such real, dangerous power that one of the first actions of tyranny is to stamp out the voices of all but the chosen few.

Every act of magic begins with the words, the voice, to invoke that magic. To take away someone’s voice, to ground it into silence, is to steal magic.

And if your story doesn’t resonate, it doesn’t mean it holds no value. People will tell you this – they might even mock you and try to shout you down, sometimes under the guise of ‘constructive criticism’ – but the fault is not with you. It’s with the storytelling. To amplify your voice so that others will listen is both a skill and an art.

Always be learning:

How to make better art.

How to work your magic.

Jan 6, 2013
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5 comments · Add Yours

Wow… this really struck a chord! Thank you.

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Love this! Eloquent. Insightful. Sharply written. Of course we are totally in sync. I’ve always believed in the power of story. Now I see how when married to business and social media — along with strategy — you really can reach more people. Potentially help and change more, too. This is a revelation. This is thanks to you, who first introduced me to the online marketing and entrepreneurial world, where I’m seeing how in this brave, new world beyond the old styles of publishing — we have the chance to communicate even more quickly. More effectively. More globally. That’s why I’m taking the storytelling skills I honed for decades and funneling them into a new venture, Above The Hum, along with Writers On Fire. You’re so right it’s always, also, about craft. Shaping the story, sharpening your storytelling skills, all key. Do you agree with Daniel Pink, that Right Brainers will take over the world? Seems you do. The question is — what action do we take next?

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Without art, I’d surely feel very powerless given that I’m so much more a listener than a talker. But that’s helped me to notice that those who speak the loudest rarely have the best stories to share. So, yeah, I guess the trick is to refine your art, your story, to the point that when you do speak up, people can’t help but pay attention. Your story will rise above the din. I just wish I was there already. When I share, people often look at me as if I just told them that I kissed Donald Trump under a broken street lamp in Calcutta. It’s hard to make the truth sound believable sometimes. Thank goodness for writing.

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Always love your work Justine! This piece is such a great reminder. Would love to hear your suggestions on ‘amplifying your voice’ too. <3 <3 <3

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Hi Justine
This is a beautiful post, thanks very much.
It’s great to read something so insightful and heartfelt that has no function except to inspire and share.
thanks
Mike

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