Few breads stimulate my taste buds like a freshly baked croissant. Golden brown slightly crunchy crust yields to lovely layers of flaky delight. Add some real butter and a little jam and you have the makings of one of the perfect breakfast or snack foods. No wonder that the following story about a croissant caught my eye.
Can cultural storytelling transform an organization? Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, think so and in a guest post on Michael Hyatt’s blog, they talk about what I have called the “parable of the croissant.” I assume this is a story from their new book, The Orange Revolution: How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization,
Gostick and Elton write,
“Breakthrough teams tell such stories frequently and with passion. It is a secret ingredient of their success. Stories are vital in helping individuals understand how world-class results are achieved and in making the possibility of doing so believable. Such tales have a way of perpetuating success. The listener retells the story and, more importantly, internalizes its message and becomes part of the story.”
They then provide four “tips for modeling storytelling among your team members” of which I am only giving you an outline.
- Share the truth, nothing but the truth.
- Catch their interest early.
- Tie it to your team’s core values.
- Keep it simple.
I am intrigued by this concept. Now that I think of it, I have felt most alive and excited about and in an organization when we shared stories of what we were all accomplishing together. Story brings to life the vision, mission and core values that we may have worked so hard to formulate. But an intentional focus on eliciting stores comes with a cost–time and energy are required for stories to be shared in the contexts of relationship, community and trust. In many organizations and teams, I suspect that one side of the building (or room) may have little idea about the efforts, much less the stories, of their companions laboring on the other side. I am convinced that the success of one team in our organization is directly connected to the way they intentionally and constantly elicit and share stories,
What can you do today to cultivate cultural storytelling on your team and in your organization?
About that croissant, you will need to read Gostick and Elton’s post.
“ May we all tell great stories with our lives” is a beautiful quote from Donald Miller. Do you know what you want? What would you long to do? Miller tells us that God created us with these longings and these longings will be what our story is about.
He says, “In a story, a character wants something and goes to get it.” What are we pursuing? Is it a good story? Maybe we need to dream?
Donald Miller talks about his new book here, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It is long, almost 40 minutes but I have listened to it twice now. Its another must book for me.
Character of God: What is your paradigm for God? Is it okay with him if you dream?
Conflict: We all long for the conflict to be over. Every good story has conflict. You cannot live an inspiring life without hardship. It is necessary, It is the beauty of your lives.
Hijacking of our stories: We hear/see 3000 commercial messages a day, telling us, “You need. . .” When we believe these messages, they become our story. We start believing that we should be comfortable or happy and start to think that conflict is bad. These messages hijack our story. Conflict serves your life!
Consider Adam and Eve: Adam was lonely, longing for a companion. But he was not thinking, If I am lonely, he didn’t think something is wrong, didn’t think something is wrong with me. As he named the animals, he felt conflict. Without the conflict, Adam would not have valued Eve. God put conflict in between what he wanted and when he gained it. Conflict serves your life.
When there is dark stuff in our lives, we give that to God and say what kind of beautiful stuff can you do in my life?
When the story is over: We long for a climax in our life where conflict is solved. What do we do with these longings? Paul in Phil 3:8-10 knew his story was not over, “I long to know Christ.” Conflict did not finish at your conversion.
Conclusion: May we all tell great stories with our lives. May you tell an amazing story and stop waiting in fear for a story to happen to you. May we tell beautiful stories.
In his daily blog, John Fischer has been challenging Christians to become collectors of stories! It has resonated with me. Read all his blogs or subscribe at his Fischtank. He writes,
Christians traditionally have not been very good story collectors. We have been so bent on getting a person to the desired conversion point that all questions are directed to that one end. Questions like: “Have you been washed in the blood?” or “Are you ready to meet Jesus?” or “Is there anything keeping you from praying to receive Christ right now?” are some common examples. In the process, I surmise we are not truly connecting to people, we’re connecting to freeing ourselves of guilt over falling short in our maximum witnessing program.
One of his readers wrote in about how she was making time each day to go out at lunch with her office mates and listen to their stories.
Well, witnessing may be the last thing on Kyra’s mind, but what is on her mind is far better. What’s on her mind is listening, caring and being a part of someone’s life. It’s connecting with people, and that’s a big improvement over “witnessing” any day.
Early in my missionary career, I learned that some people seemed to be overly concerned with “how many converts” we had, as if we could ever convert anyone! I found these questions disturbing on a number of levels. What pressure it puts on young missionaries in those early days when you are trying to survive learning a language and figuring out how to live well in a new culture. It led me to become even more pre-occupied with an already unhealthy performance mind-set rather than enjoying my relationship with Christ and allowing it to overflow into conversations with people naturally. And, I think that is not the question that we should be asking. Back to John Fischer,
When Christians “witness,” in evangelical speak, they’re most likely not connecting, they’re doing a job—fulfilling a task, completing an assignment someone told them they had to do if they were going to be good Christians. So how does being set apart, unconnected, and carrying out an assignment on people sound like something Jesus would want? It isn’t.
I’ve done the EE thing, the door to door follow-ups from various big public events but I am convinced that these are easy compared to the much harder work of building relationships with people. That takes time and an investment of myself that far surpasses going through a memorized “gospel presentation.” How I am grateful for the relationships and frienships that I have had over the years here. Hopefully, because I have been a good friend, loved them and listened to them, all of them have moved closer to Christ. Some have even become Christians. More from Fischer,
Instead of “witnessing,” let’s connect. Let’s find out how beautiful people are—what makes them tick… what are their hopes and dreams… what are their fears? Get them to talk about their kids, their pets, their hobbies, their favorite movies… What we will find out is exactly what Kyra is finding out: we have more in common than we have differences.
So get ready to hit the rowdy road and meet all different kinds of people with stories to tell. Probe, don’t preach. Ask open-ended questions—questions that get them talking about their hopes and dreams and the journey they are on.
Have I been so busy with “my ministry” that I have not been hearing their stories? That is something I can work on.
Here are a few pictures with “stories” behind them.
Wanted to finish up a post I started last week on shalom, from Dan Allender’s seminar, “Learning to Love Your Story”
Where or when have I know shalom in my life? (It fits, I fit and all the pieces fit together) “the way life should be” (to use Plantinga’s phrase about shalom). Challenging–would like to do more on this.
- Fishing off the lake dock with my grandmother and aunt. Playing scrabble or canasta with them. Life was simple and I was able to live in the present for those few moments, not worrying about what would come next.
- Being with my Uncle Red and seeing tears come down his Lou Gherig’s ravaged face as I shared Christ with him.
- A family counseling session with my wife, son and daughter in which for a moment everything came together
- Learning to relax and just enjoy my experience of Scuba diving