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No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.

Lewis Carrol, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland|Through the Looking-Glass

Seven years. It was just over seven years ago that I started blogging. Every week, so many thoughts, ideas, observations. Sometimes they resonated, sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes someone would respond, sometimes they wouldn’t. After all this time, one thinks that I would learn. After so many posts, the secret would be clear. Surely at 350+ blog posts I would realize, right?

Alas, the discovery continues and though I may require constant reminding, hope for ongoing growth springs eternal.

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with a client who I hadn’t spoken at length with since before COVID hit. We scheduled a Teams call but the meeting had no agenda. She was kind enough to accept my invitation to “catch up.” We talked of COVID, healthcare benefits, changes in their business, surgeries, and the general comings and goings of a topsy turvy 2020.

I updated her on things ahead for Northwind, my excitement for such-and-such initiative or idea, and our optimism for 2021. It was a light and entertaining (at least for me) conversation and we spoke for nearly an hour. She was a very good sport in the meandering discussion and I appreciated her investment in the call.

As we were beginning to close the call, she interrupted me (I was still on a bit of an enthusiastic roll) and said “Before we finish, I need to tell you…” Isn’t it funny how we spend so much time in a conversation and somehow end up at the “I need to tell” part at the close? It’s like the P.S. in a letter, which, strangely enough, often contains the point of the note to begin with. For me, it’s the “one more thing” at the end of an email – there is always one more thing.

I digress.

“I need to tell you,” she continued, “that I was really touched by your daughter’s introduction in your book.” “It was so powerful and gave such great context to you, your family, and your book.” She went on to confess that she had not finished the book but had enjoyed a few chapters – an honest and very generous bit of feedback.

That was not the first time I’ve heard something similar about my daughter’s introduction to Every Day is Game Day. It is, perhaps, the most common compliment. And I’m quite pleased with that.

We talked for a few more minutes and then she added, “I also wanted to mention that I followed you and your wife’s journey on the Camino de Santiago. Such an adventure! Thank you for sharing it.”

And there it was. The reminder. We’ve worked together for a number of years. My company is a good partner to hers. Our teams talk and we serve their employees through an onsite health center. However, we could have talked medications and healthcare for years and never gotten close to connecting like we could through the emotive power of a few stories.

No matter how much I write or how much feedback I get, the power of stories always surprises me. Surely I’m followed for deep wisdom and keen insight, right? Clearly those reading these posts understand the brilliant perspective and clever wit I direct toward so many subjects, right?

Not really. It is still the stories that connect us. The insights into the foibles, failings, and the struggles we all endure. And occasionally, the victory we find along the way. It is so incredibly human and rich and compelling. And, so easy to forget. Well, at least for me.

The same day I had the conversation above, our grandson, Cooper stayed the night with us. Now over three and a half year’s old, Cooper is the persistent reminder of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Particularly as it relates to the priorities of my life and a good story.

He lives for the wonder of a good story. I know this because we read at least 10 stories during the closing minutes before bed time; and he would have gone on unto the drift into sleep if I hadn’t gotten tired first.

Our world is so full of the how to’s, newsworthy soundbites, the specific, and the purposeful, that it becomes easy to lose sight of the compelling stories. For those of us who like to write, it’s easy to think in terms of message or discovery or cleverness rather than the power of human connection. We forget the power of story and lose the most compelling opportunity for connection when we fail to tell it.

No matter how great the discovery or profound the insight, we still touch people through the story. Our humanity, in all of its wonderful imperfection, emerges in our stories and finds people where they are: struggling, thriving, fearing, hoping, and living in the ways we all share.

Thank you to those who continue to follow along and share your stories with me. They never fail to touch me and I am grateful for the connection, and the reminder, of what it means to be human together.

Showing 3 comments
  • Shari Frank
    Reply

    Phil,

    I have really enjoyed your blogs and the variety of them. I look forward to reading them on Sunday mornings. It is funny how many times we don’t even realize how something we have said or done, becomes a story memory for someone else. I can’t tell you how many times in the past few years, it is just Reagan and me in the car, and she will bring up a memory “story” of something I did or said in front of her, and I have to think back about it. Most of what she recalls, or at least shares we me, are funny things. I like thinking back about some of our Frank Berry memories!

  • Trish Berry
    Reply

    This was a very good STORY. Our Children, Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren are the best part of our Story!

  • Patrick Berry
    Reply

    The Power of Story. Whether you’re living the story you’re telling or telling a story you’ve lived, it doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that we appreciate the gifts the story gives us and that we share our stories generously as a gift to others. This is great Phil.

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