I saw a marvelous film today. Atom Egoyan’s Adoration. I got a call at 9 AM from a friend saying she had won tickets from the CBC and did I want to go. I, only moments before, had been silently lamenting the  fact that I had failed to see even one film at this year’s International Film Festival, so you can imagine how quickly I reoriented my day. What a movie! And what a study on the power of storytelling. Without giving away the movie, it follows the impact of one young man’s story (told as if it were the truth) on the lives of both himself and others’ and then meditates upon the difficulties one has in getting away from a well told story once it has taken on a life of its own.

I was particularly moved by this film because story-telling has been a constant theme in my work lately. Appreciative Inquiry and all its delicate permutations is concerned with storytelling. Organizational change is approached from the perspective that change is better set in motion by understanding pinnacle strengths not entrenched weaknesses and thus AI processes frequently begin with an inquiry or investigation into what constitutes the positive core of the organization, in other words its “good story”. Combining my love of AI with the latest research in neuroplasticity is, quite honestly, blowing my mind! (See prior post for more on that!)

We are all story-tellers. What I am increasingly interested in is the way in which the stories we tell help or hinder the changes we seek to make in our lives. Coaching is about change. A client comes to a coach wanting something to be different. They may be seeking improved skills, career transition, greater confidence, more impactful communication, ability to influence and lead others, a greater sense of life balance, personal satisfaction, more success, less stress, etc. In short the client comes with a story of what was and a hope for what might be.

I believe my role as a coach is to help shine a light down the path of their preferred story. As we come to accept and understand the tremendous power of our own minds to influence the physical nature of our brains or how our stories and language pave the road of our experience, we have every reason to be enthused by the possibility that surrounds us.

The young man in Adoration was both a product of the stories told by others, and a great author for what was to come. The simplest of words has the power to set in motion tidal waves of joy, regret, wonder, worry, love, hate. I encourage anyone wishing to make a change in their lives to make a full hearted commitment to authoring a story that is exactly what they want to read every night. What’s your story?