LEADING SAINTS – Kurt Francom

13 July 2019 – TEACHING THROUGH BETTER STORIES

I found something really fun – something new – for us today.

Homework For Life. Have you heard of it? I hadn’t. But Bry had. Bryant and I were driving to a family party over the weekend, and we were talking about answering our kids questions or concerns, with stories. I love this idea. Bry told me what he knew about something called Homework For Life.

This morning, when I woke up, the first thing I wanted to do was look up Matthew Dicks, and find out what he had to say about story telling.

“At the end of every day, ask yourself, ‘What is the most story-worthy moment of this day?'”

Matthew does this himself, on an excel spreadsheet, just to make sure he doesn’t write too much: Homework For Life.

“Force yourself to find the moment that made this day a little different. Don’t write it all. Just a few lines… Our days are filled with stories! We realize something about ourselves or about others, we change in some way.”

This is about having a story to tell from your life. The best stories are always our own stories.

“When you become the kind of person that always has something good to say, people will be drawn to you. And when people have a question, you always have a story to tell.”

Let’s talk about basic principles of story telling:

  1. Know what a story is: a moment in your life when you changed in some way – transformational.
  2. That moment should be a 5-second moment. It really only takes us 5 seconds to realize ___________ or to have a change of heart. 5 second moment.
  3. How can you come to understand that 5 second moment, or how can you find it at all, if you don’t instinctively see where/how the change took place? Ask yourself WHY, five times. Today I was changed by X experience. Why did X experience change me? Why A? Because B. But, why B? Because C. Why C? Because D. Etc
  4. Start your story as close to the end of your story as you can, then end your story shortly after that 5 second moment. There isn’t much more than can be said, after that moment.
  5. That is the story frame – from the moment when you didn’t know what you knew by the end, or hadn’t felt what you’d felt by the end, to a moment after you’d learned or felt or experienced that change.

This is about storytelling – having a story you can share any any given time. Yes. But Homework For Life is also about journaling.

“You are capturing something from every day. You don’t lose a day anymore. Most people, if you ask them, What did you do last Thursday, they will never be able to tell you what they did last Thursday … They throw memories away like they are trash. They disregard these days like they are just throwaways, when they’re really the most precious things we have.”

The other thing that happens, when we are journaling our stories, is we find that we remember other similar stories. “Things that you can’t believe you would ever forget, will suddenly emerge.”

Just this morning, journaling on my own, I remembered an experience I’d had, maybe 13 years ago, when Ella was just a toddler. As a young mom, I was plenty busy. And, in a manic rush, one afternoon, I made a lengthy list of “things to do” on a paper napkin.  Ella put everything into perspective when she picked up that napkin, not five minutes later, and blew her nose on it. The scene before me not only communicated Ella’s respect for my to-do list, but realigned my day’s priorities.

If we are sharing something personal, we are making ourselves vulnerable by sharing some of our weaknesses, and our need for change. When we do this, people are drawn in. “You make yourself safe to other people. You bridge a gap.”

“We don’t want to hear your success stories. That’s bragging. And that is no fun.”

And when we are nervous to share something like that – something real – when we are truly nervous in front of the room, we actually get closer to the audience quicker. “Automatically we get people’s hearts going out to us.”

I guess I am wondering now, what if I am nervous to tell a true story, even just to myself. Will that endear me to myself? I’m not sure. Is it healing? Writing it out? I’m not sure about that either. But let me close with the story that is in my heart this afternoon.

My parents are divorced. My dad left my mom two years ago. Maybe it was a long time coming. Maybe no one saw it coming. No one talks about it. Or when they do, it is so full of contradictions that it hurts me. I am hurt.

Maybe I’d rather not know. I haven’t decided yet.

But their divorce today has led me to rethink their relationship yesterday. And the day before. And the day before. I cannot change the past. Why do I keep going back to it? Maybe I am trying to learn from it. Or make sense of it.

I don’t know.

So much that I don’t know.

I found an email from my dad, that he’d written to me back in 2006. Were my mom and dad happily married then? Or were they already feeling an unraveling?

Maybe it is okay that I don’t know.

I did know then, and I do know now, about his love for me:

Rachel.

I Love you.

Dad

PS Mom and I have been reading some material from the Arbinger Institute.  This last reading dealt with the heart at peace vs the heart at war.  One of the characters shared a story of when he forgot to put the brand new car in ‘park’ and it rolled down the driveway and into the river.  When he finally got enough courage to tell his hard-working financially-struggling father, his father responded with, ‘Well I guess you’ll have to take the old truck.’  His father’s heart was at peace.  It reminded me of when you were sixteen, and nearly took out the garage when backing out the van.  My heart was not at peace when I reacted.  I am so truly sorry for getting mad at you.  You are a wonderful beautiful loving daughter, and were you to do that right now, I would run over to you, open the car door, pull you out and hug and hold you.