I saw that quote from Plato on a large billboard while walking to the train late last year. I read it, thought nothing more of it and kept walking, then two steps on it hit me ‘whoa, that’s me, I’m a storyteller!’ You know when a thought slaps you in the face sometimes and it has a physical impact on you? Well in that moment the air temperature changed a little, a faint ringing started in my ears and I made an involuntary audible murmur. (Read: several people walked faster to get away from the crazy lady talking to herself on the bridge). It gave me a jolt of realisation of both the power and the responsibility I have being the one at the front of the room capturing everyone’s thoughts and ideas.

I have an immense responsibility as I have to paraphrase and sense-make the vast volumes of content that are spoken in a workshop – I can’t capture it word for word, and I wouldn’t be doing my job very well if I did.  Each person’s intent, imagery and tone joining to form a single narrative. A narrative woven together by me – the person with the pen. It is an immense responsibility because I have to represent every participant in the version of the story that I create, because mine is the story that will live on, mine is the account of what happened that will become history. I am the one who tells the story. No pressure.

Capturing and sculpting stories is not purely the domain of the scribe though. We each tell numerous stories every day as we go about our lives. Probably more than we consciously think about. It might be as simple as the update you give your team, or the way you represent a project in a status report. No matter how small, all the stories we each tell every day have the possibility of forming part of our histories. Some of them become legend, the corporate myths that are told and retold as each new wave of company employees joins the ranks. “Did you hear about the guy who…’

A great story is a powerful thing. I was speaking with a client the other day who was telling me how the strategic plan I helped produce at their board offsite had really gotten legs this year as the large scale graphic capture had hung on the wall all year where everyone saw it every day. It was regularly spoken about and the tasks had been actively completed throughout the year. I was chuffed to say the least. But it was a great reminder of why I do what I do and why I believe in the power of it. I meet diverse and interesting people, listen to their amazing tales and ideas, and I stitch together a colourful story from pictures and words that often takes on a life of its own, living on long after my ink has dried.

Ask yourself: what stories did I tell today? How did I honour the perspectives of others? Did I take the time to breathe the life into my story that it deserves? What story will you choose to tell tomorrow? Don’t under-estimate the power and the responsibility of the pen.