looking back

In 1993, I was working at a college. As part of my job, I wrote and recorded 90 second radio spots designed to make people think. Our dream was that if we made them think, they would think about enrolling in our program in organizational management.

I’m pretty sure that no one ever enrolled that way.

However, I came across the manuscripts recently. Here’s an excerpt from the very first one:

I have decided, however, what makes Tom Peters so effective, and what managers can learn from him which will most help our managing. He tells stories. Stories of success. Stories of the victorious underdog. Stories of people like us-or like we would like to be.

One of the tools managers can use very effectively is stories. Stories about the people in our organizations who have done great things with meager resources. Stories about the heros of the company. Stories from the old days–and stories from yesterday. Because human beings in all cultures and in all organizations like stories, we can use them to get people excited about the possibilities of success.

I laughed when I read this, realizing that I am still telling stories and telling people to tell stories. I am still convinced that we need to be telling stories.

However, I am not sure that I am nearly as concerned about helping companies succeed. Today I listened to people talk about what they were doing 6 years ago. I listened to the silence of a friend from NYC. I listened to a friend from Washington talk about her immobility that day. I listened to a friend talk about how he didn’t know anyone from either city back then, but realizing that now, today, he would be scrambling for information.

What I discovered, as I was writing emails and finding tears in my eyes, is that these stories…and untold stories…weren’t making me successful, they were making me.

As you look back down time, as you look at today, talk. Talk about pain. Talk about doubt. Talk about the time you…..

You never know the transforming power of a story.


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