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Top Ten Stories

Today I had the opportunity to attend a seminar presented by the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture. There were four excellent speakers whose presentations sparked plenty of ideas.

But I’m not going to recap the day for you. In an aside, one of the speakers suggested an exercise and I wanted to share it with you.

The speaker was Andy Goodman, “author, speaker and consultant in the field of public interest communications,” and he was speaking on the topic of storytelling. (He’s fascinating, funny and super-smart, by the way.)

The exercise he suggested was this: think of the top 10 stories you tell about yourself (and, he mentioned, if you can’t think of 10, ask your spouse, friends, parents, etc.). Jot down thePen and paper title of each story as you think of it. Then, think about those 10 stories. If a perfect stranger, someone who knew nothing else about you, knew only those 10 stories, what assumptions might be made? What would that person know about you? What would they NOT know?

I tried it. It wasn’t easy, but here’s the list I came up with, in no particular order:
1.  Cindi and the bee
2.  Why I love reading
3.  Cindi, Lady and the dog biscuits
4.  Me and my Marty
5.  The pocket bunny from hell (A Chris* and Cindi Story)
6.  How I got my job with the Cyclones
7.  Two girls change a car battery
8.  The night the deer hit us (Another Chris and Cindi Story)
9.  How I became a hockey fan
10. The time a hot guy came to the door

If any of these titles are intriguing enough that you want to know the story, leave a comment and perhaps I’ll write it out for a future post:-)

Now, to be honest, I only considered stories that I would tell anyone. I think we all have stories of frivolity, shall we say, that we tell in certain groups – those I left out.

Here’s what I think a stranger might think about me, knowing only those stories:
1. I have certain strengths (perseverance, compassion, ambition, self-sufficiency)
2. I have certain weaknesses (fear of bees, sometimes get too silly)
3. I own up to both my strengths and my weaknesses and fears
4. I’m funny (well, I like to think so, anyway)
5. I’m open-minded
6. I care about animals
7. I have a lot of respect for my parents and get along well with them
8. And, obviously, I love to read

Here’s what surprised me:
1. None of my top stories take place at school
2. Only one of my top stories is related to work
3. My most recent top story is from 13 years ago

I’d love to know if you try this exercise and what you learn from it. Happy storytelling!

*Chris is my best friend and has been for the past 20 years.

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