By 2011 I’d grown restless. I was working as an International Strategic Marketing Consultant for corporate healthcare companies. Every day was spent planning the future of the next chemical entity. But in the present, there was dearth of heart & soul connection and life seemed to be over-taken by work.One Saturday my email pinged with an invitation to join a mentorship programme for folk who wanted to be more inspired in business. I said ‘YES’ and signed-up right away.
By 2011 I’d grown restless. I was working as an International Strategic Marketing Consultant for corporate healthcare companies. Every day was spent planning the future of the next chemical entity. But in the present, there was dearth of heart & soul connection and life seemed to be over-taken by work.
One Saturday my email pinged with an invitation to join a mentorship programme for folk who wanted to be more inspired in business.
I said ‘YES’ and signed-up right away.
Half-way through the programe, I was excavating property websites to buy a bolt-hole cottage in Ireland where I’d grown-up. “Surely I’d rediscover the enchantment I’d known as a child there. And, I could indulge my passion for writing and storytelling that I’d had since childhood,” I told myself.
As for finding heart & soul connection in my work in the business world – that seemed like an elusive dream.
One weekend on the programme I reluctantly admitted to feeling lost. And layered on top of that was my shame about feeling lost. It always felt safer to appear to be invincible and never show any weakness, regardless of how I was feeling inside.
You see, I’d bought into the corporate cultural narrative that tells us that people who leave work on time lack commitment and that lunch is for whimps.
But then, Nick who was leading the programme said ten words that caused me to change the entire direction of my life.
“Why don’t you write the enchanted story of your life”
He must have seen a furrowed brow looking back at him. I didn’t have the slightest idea what he meant.
But I said YES anyway.
That evening I began a blog of stories from my life, starting with childhood anecdotes. Encouraging feedback spurred me to write more.
A couple of months later I found myself sitting at a workshop. A lady was sitting nearby not quite behind me and not quite beside me. Our chairs were at an angle. Next thing, she began to swing her leg like a pendulum, kicking my chair as she did. After two minutes of my chair being kicked every three seconds I was irritated but something urged me to talk to her.
Quelling my irritation, I decided to strike-up a conversation with her.
I turned my chair so that it was out of kicking range and was met by a woman with a broad smile and twinkling eyes. “Hello, I’m Claire,” I said. She introduced herself too and soon Jeanette and I were chatting. “So what do you do,” I asked. Her response? “I’m a storyteller.” My jaw must have dropped. I was astonished. She told me how I could learn more about storytelling and that evening I booked onto a course. Enthusiastic to learn as much as I could, I took a five-week sabbatical in 2012 to train in the art of storytelling performance.
When I returned to the business world I began to introduce storytelling into my consultancy work. I noticed how powerful storytelling is at breaking down the invincibility shields that business folk wear to protect ourselves. Life becomes pretty dull when when we’re defended like that. The best we can hope for is to buzz on caffeine. But it’s a poor substitute for the aliveness that’s available to us when we allow our metal exteriors melt. People connect more authentically, build trust more quickly and work together brilliantly.
Anyway in 2013, I continued to follow my intuition and turned my story blog into a book called The Tao of Storytelling – 30 Ways to Create Empowering Stories to Live By. And I co-founded The Story Mill Ltd. to bring storytelling into business. My journey taught me how to reconnect with my own vulnerability and how valuable that is in business. And it reminds me of that wonderful quote from Woody Allen:
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
My own journey has taught me to be open and allow things to unfold. Many of the best things in life are virtually impossible to plan. Being open and present means that we can respond to the opportunities that magically come our way.
Image copyright: ra2studio – shutterstock