Byron's Babbles

Telling Our Stories

Posted in 9/11, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Story, Story Telling, Storytelling by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on September 10, 2021

I am so loving The Bookshop At Water’s End by Patti Callahan Henry. Patti has done such an incredible job of developing the characters in this novel. It is yet another affirmation that we can learn so much from fictional characters. We get to know everything about these characters. In real-life and non-fiction we only get to know what is revealed, based on authenticity. In the book it was said that, “Some things can only be told by those living them.” This is why how we live, lead, serve, and tell the story is so important.

Another line in the book, “Sometimes we tell our stories, and sometimes our stories tell us.” If that statement doesn’t cause you to stop, think, and take stock, I’m not sure what will. As I have watched interviews, reflected, and remembered 9/11 today these quotes from the book are even more powerful. Every person who was living on that day experienced the event differently. Those stories can only be told by each of us in the context we lived it. And, for some the stories tell much about the person.

Additionally, I had the chance to eat dinner with my son on Thursday night and his sliders came in a basket lined with cool paper printed with actual news stories. His paper had an article about November 9, 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell and an article about when the Titanic was found. He wanted to talk about these two things. I was around for those events, but didn’t have much connection with the Titanic. I did, however, live through the Cold War and have stood where the Berlin Wall was and brought home pieces of the Berlin Wall.

As leaders we need to remember these statements. It is why relationships are job one. If we want to live by the Platinum Rule, “Do unto others as they would want to be done to them,” we must know the stories of those we serve. Notice the difference between the Platinum Rule and Golden Rule is only changing “you” to “they” and “them.” Now Jesus might not be happy with me promoting the platinum over the golden, but when we study the leadership of Jesus we find that he also took time to hear the stories and context of those he served. He met people where they were regardless of their story. One thing is for sure: we all have a story. We either tell that story, or it tells us.

The Whole Story

Another line in the great book I’m reading right now, Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead had an impact on me this morning and caused me to reflect. The line was, “I didn’t need to know the whole story. No story is ever completely whole.” As a person who always says things like “That’s not my story to tell.” This reminded me that we don’t always know the whole story. In fact, rarely ever do we know the whole story; or need to know the whole story for that matter. I’ve actually blogged about this before in It’s Not My Story To Tell in a little different context. The problem seems to be that ,somehow, we learn to confuse complete with perfect. Complete comes to mean existing within a narrow scope of our human experience. It means having all of the light and none of the dark. Having flaws or struggles make us less than. Why do we do this? The more we hold on to these beliefs, whether about ourselves or others we serve, the more we are let down. We don’t feel successful, happy, or connected, and we sure aren’t confident. None of this hardness makes us stronger.

As I continued to reflect, I realized that we really aren’t completely ever whole because each continues to mold us into the sculpture we are becoming. The whole of us is not just the shiniest parts. We tend to only look at those parts, both in ourselves and others. Then, when we don’t find what we think should be there we consider ourselves and others incomplete. We make complete out to needing to find all the missing pieces and then becoming something. Instead, wholeness should have us being who we already are – realizing the story is never completely whole. Everything is part of our wholeness. Being whole means seeing perfection and imperfection, hurting and healing, fear and courage as one in the same. Remember, everyone does not need to see the whole story. Also, remember you don’t always need to know the whole story.