While at #uLead17 I introduced significance of unpacking/discovering your leadership narrative. During the #WomenEd preconference, I shared two quotes from Christina Baldwin's book Storycatcher: Making Sense of our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story.
"Story is the narrative thread of our experience -- not what literally happens, but what we make out of what happens, what we tell each other and what we remember." (pg xi)
"Story is a search for community. Open your mouth, grab a pen, type on the keyboard -- sing out who you are, for I need you. I am looking for you; you are looking for me. We are tribe. Something is happening to me: I am thrown into the spiral of my experience. I've never been here before. I am disoriented. But I know I cannot possibly be the first human being to experience this -- where are the stories? Not that I'm going to live through something exactly the way anyone else has, but the purpose of the map is to show us how. And then I take my own steps. None of us can judge exactly what is needed: we don't know; we just set out the stories because someday, somebody will need these clues...It will save your life: for the story that gets one person through makes a map for getting the next person through." (pg 224)
Through the sharing of our own leadership stories, we create entry points (shout out to Joanne Pitman (Twitter: @JoannePitman5) for this notion) into conversations that we need to engage in. We create connections and allow others to possibly find comfort in knowing those that are working alongside or have gone before.
Further into #uLead17 I facilitated a session that was designed to help leaders explore their own leadership narratives. This work was based on two ideas:
One of the attendees came to the session in hopes of hearing the stories of other women leaders because she shared that she feels like she is missing something, like she has messed up somewhere along the way. I let her know that part of the intent of the session was to plant the seed and brainstorm how we might go about sharing our stories because they are important, yet seem hard to find.
If we believe that leadership is ontological, a state of being in the world, then there must be markers or events in our past that contribute to where we are today. Perhaps these were opportunities during grade school, shoulder-taps in our career, roadblocks, or parent role models that have led us to this precise moment. If we can identify these pivotal events, we can look out for them with the students and staff that we mentor. They can be the entry point into a conversation or connection.
I am hoping that this forum can be a starting place for the collection of our leadership narratives. We need each others' stories because We. Need. Each. Other.
So let us begin making the map...