"Become aware what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it and give birth to it." - Meister Eckhart

10 December 2010

Stories of Gratitude

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of attending the end-of-term banquet put on by the students from the 'Wisconsin in Scotland' programme at Dalkeith House, near Edinburgh Scotland. I had been invited to speak after dinner on the importance of storytelling and to lead the students in an interactive workshop.

Prior to my introduction, many of the students took turns standing and addressing the audience themselves, each taking a few minutes to pay tribute to someone in the room: a room-mate, a friend, a teacher or other staff member. In doing so, each speaker shared a story, a reflection of their gratitude for a kindness shown, support and friendship.

I was deeply touched by this expression of gratitude from so many young people. Every tribute was sincere and heartfelt, accompanied by laughter and tears. These were stories, I thought, that will become treasured memories in years to come.

The young woman who introduced me--Melissa--did so with a similar expression of gratitude. These folk were genuinely grateful that I had made the effort to struggle through a snowstorm to be with them. Basking in their warmth, I glowed and shared my passion for storytelling, encouraging them to honour their experiences and transform them into meaningful stories. But then, they didn't really need me to tell them that . . . they were doing it in their tributes to one another.

We say 'thank-you' many times in a day, but how often do we express our gratitude with such awareness as these young people expressed? They reminded me how important it is to pay tribute to our friends and mentors, to say 'thank you' mindfully, not as a simple pleasantry. For that reminder I am truly grateful to the students of the 'Wisconsin in Scotland' programme.

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"We have received only very positive reports of your workshop, and must thank you for being so flexible and responsive both before and in the course of implementing the workshop. It has been lovely to work with you. . . . We are hopeful this project will give rise to future storytelling endeavours, and would be very happy to work with you again if the opportunity arises!" Muireann Crowley, At Home in Scotland, University of Edinburgh, May 2014 ("Storytelling, Research and Public Engagement" workshop)

Michael Williams is a a storyteller of compelling skill. He is also a fine human being who engages in all situations and draws people into the warmth of communication and shared experience." Donald Smith, Director, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Scotland

"Michael's understanding of storytelling within a leadership and business context has helped us provide a great service in helping leaders determine their personal and organisational destiny and legacy. Working with Michael is inspiring and fun; and pulls you to be fully engaged from start to finish." Norton Bertram-Smith, Managing Director and Leadership Consultant for On Purpose.

Kamink: the little boy who grew into a giant of a man

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