By JC Zahradnik
Earlier this Summer, I was part of a huge week-long training. During one of the sessions, the presenter was talking to us and then BAM, all of a sudden there is a picture of my wife & I up on the screen. Needless to say, my mind was filled with all sorts of thoughts: did I know this guy, maybe he knows my wife, did someone put him up to this, why does this guy have a picture of me. Let’s be honest, it was a little awkward at first. Then the guy asks me about the picture: what were we doing, what’s with the glasses, what did my tattoo say, etc… At first, I was hesitant to give full answers considering I was in a room with people I had only just met a few days earlier. Not to mention, this was my first time ever seeing the presenter. Seriously, how many of you would share much with a complete stranger, especially a complete stranger who someone has a picture of you? As the questions continued to come in, and the crowd began to share in the laughs, giggles, and “awes”,I began to become more comfortable sharing my answers.
He then went to the next picture of someone else in the crowd and they started sharing about their picture. Then onto the next, and the next, and so on. In all, around 25 people answered questions about their picture. After only a few pictures, members of the crowd started asking questions or commenting on commonalities they shared. It ended up being a really fun activity and many conversations were started because of it.
At the end, the presenter told us he just Googled each of our names, picked a picture (hoping he was actually getting pictures of the right people), and threw it into a PowerPoint. Super-duper simple. However, the value of an activity like this can’t be fully measured. After maybe 45 minutes, a room full of pretty much complete strangers, had become connected. We became connected through our story. The presenter had done such a great job of asking deeper, probing questions to get us beyond just describing the picture. He got us to talk about ourselves, our passions, our family, our whys.
This is the power of Story. Story is something I love. It helps us fulfill what I believe to be one of our greatest needs in life, a sense of belonging. We need to feel connected to people, to feel we belong. We try to take the easy road and connect through the superficial. The problem with the superficial is it does not last. It doesn’t withstand. Story unites us beyond the superficial. It connects us deeper with each other. It creates a strong bond between us and another.