I spend a lot of time converting stories into emails, book chapters and other forms of prose.
In listening to somebody’s story I’m really listening for changes; small or large events that indicate a movement from one phase of life to the next.
On a personal level we feel these changes as they happen, although sometimes they only crystallise in retrospect.
My 4-year-old son Hugo started school this month. I have mixed feelings about our education systems more widely, but I’ve been ready for him to go. Mostly because he’s been ready to go. Already it feels like he’s grown up 6 months in the 2 weeks since he started.
My youngest daughter is now two and a half. Born 8 weeks early, she’s only just started to walk. (Literally within the last week.) She’s been capable of walking for a long time, but has only just decided that she wants to. Again, it’s a subtle nudge. One chapter is ending, another is beginning.
Your life runs in phases with common threads spanning those phases. In exploring your story you’re looking for both the changes and also the common threads. They illustrate both your personal growth events and underlying values.
Look back through your own life. When have you intuitively felt these periods of change? Sometimes the change may be prompted by challenging circumstances. Other times life just moves on around you, perhaps allowing you extra space to change or grow.
You can tell stories about these periods. They usually resonate well with your audience. Usually they also contain common threads that illustrate your overall message.