Yesterday, I had a chance to share my Story Triangle webinar (you can watch the recording here). During my morning preparation I expected to spend time perfecting the way I presented my storytelling e-course (we all need to sharpen our sales skills, right?). Instead, I ended up lavishing my attention on what seemed like an innocuous little story about St. Patrick and his teaching tool, the shamrock.
To tell the truth, I’d always felt a little disingenuous about this part of my class. I chose the story because I wanted to talk about the power of three. Trotting out the tale of Ireland’s patron saint helped me do that while highlighting my personal story as a student of Irish literature. Plus, just about everyone has a kindly association with March 17 and the wearing of the green and all that, right?
Well, not everyone.
Just this week, someone responded to a video I’d posted earlier this spring about What to do when content you loved writing doesn't get read. I recorded this commentary because I was bummed because some St. Paddy’s Day related content I’d created hadn’t gotten much attention. As a former “professional Irish person” I guess I felt like the world needed to heed (and tweet) my green-tinted writing advice.
After offering some kind, supportive thoughts about how important it is to be seen for our creative contributions, someone who goes by “Wonderfeel” had this to say:
I can't help but mention that St Patrick is someone who would have made the Westborough Baptist Church look mild-mannered. He was a fanatic who violently trounced Earth-based faiths in Ireland. He 'chased out the snakes'. Like most violent individuals he had a backstory that made his cruelty more understandable, but still he was a person who deeply injured the soul of Ireland. Maybe we could wait till April 13 and celebrate Seamus Heaney's birthday?
That was a wake up call I didn't know I needed
I don’t know who Wonderfeel is or whether they’ve followed me enough to know that my interest in Ireland has a lot more to do with Heaney’s poetry and triple goddesses than it does with the Christian trinity. Maybe it was just a coincidence. Perhaps the universe picked this person to remind me to tell stories that are important and true to who I am, not just those that seem most likely to appeal to a crowd.
No matter what, I’m deeply grateful.
Like my mysterious friend Wonderfeel, I don’t have a particularly warm view St. Patrick. I know that “salvation” happened as the result of a lot of devastation. There are many other examples of the power of three that I could have used that wouldn’t have made me feel like a fraud for telling the easy story rather than the story that was true to me.
What’s so important about one tiny story?
Would revising one minor example in an hourlong presentation have made much of a difference to the overall outcome - teaching therapists, coaches, and others in the transformation business about the relationships that help them tell stronger stories? Probably not.
But I strive for integrity and it’s my mission to align every story I tell with who I am and the interests of those I hope to reach. Telling a story that pulls me off that course is a disservice to my community, myself, and the Story Triangle I hold so dear.
You can watch the Story Triangle presentation now. (Try to check it out before midnight on Friday, June 3 because that’s when the special early action bonus expires for new You, Your Stories, and Your Audience enrollees.)