Stories that change us • Spark

What makes it hard to make changes in our life and at work?

Why does one new pair of shoes slot nicely into my wardrobe and get used right away and another take months to become part of the shoe gang? Similar things can happen with relationships; we may like the idea of meeting someone, but how keen are we to embrace the changes that come with this? Commuting from a different part of town? Eating new things for breakfast? Having Almond Milk in our tea because that is all there is in their fridge!

Making changes is not all hard work it’s also fun, exhilarating and a rich source of stories. When things go wrong I often remind myself that at least there will be a story in this! But are there any other ways that telling stories can help us negotiate changes?

I recently lead a workshop at the University of the Arts London where we used storytelling in the context of some significant changes the University is undertaking. Being an arts organisation they were keen to use creative tools to build momentum for the changes they are making. I worked with Daila from Paint Jam London on this project. I’m a huge fan of there creative events.

The good thing about the status quo is we kind of know what to expect. We can make a fairly good guess about the way things will go. But when we are facing a change such as a new role at work or a reorganisation it’s hard for us to see and predict what is going to happen next. Our natural response can be to cling on to what we know, the past. Stories have a role to play here because they help us and others to see a future that doesn’t exist yet. If we are encouraged to look ahead and imagine what things will be like we can picture ourselves in three, six or twelve month’s time. We can imagine what we could be doing, how are we are behaving, how we are feeling and thinking, all of a sudden the future seems less unknown and we are an active part in creating it. In my experience this is what it really means to have a vision. Can I see a future that doesn’t exist yet and can I imagine myself in it.