Friday, September 17, 2010

Story Rx: Be Like Yoda, not Indiana Jones

This week, I had the honor of joining Saul Kaplan, Carmen Medina, Keith Yamashita, Tony Hsieh, Richard Saul Wurman, Rita King, and many others at Business Innovation Factory's 6th Collaborative Innovation Summit (BIF-6).

Among so many leaders in innovation, entrepreneurship, and business, I felt a great sense of trepidation in drawing from my own storied past - the fluttering mosquito net under which my grandmother would tell me tales of flying horses, bone crunching demons, princes, princesses, gods, goddesses and all their foibles. I swallowed my fear and told the audience a Bengali folk tale my own children love - a tale in which truth can not be achieved when searched for alone, but can only be found in conjunction with another person.

During my 15 minute presentation, I urged the audience, as I have my medical students and master's of Narrative Medicine students in the past, not to think of stories as things but as relationships. In medicine, we tell medical students to "get the story" as if the story is an unchanging thing, an inanimate idol, and they are to dig the thing up like some kind of underpaid and overenthusiastic Indiana Jones -- running away with their unearthed booty.

What I didn't say, because, well, I was nervous and forgot, was that I've been realizing we story listeners - doctors, nurses, teachers, parents, legislators -- have less to learn from good old handsome Indy as we do from little, green, large eared Yoda. To me, that backwards talking little imp ("Do or do not, there is no try") embodies all that is best about the Eastern mystic -- both wise and skilled, and yet, simultaneously, childlike, open, full of awe and wonder. Exactly what any clinician, leader, innovator, professor should be like - wise and humble at the same time. Both a teacher and a student.

Let us approach stories, then, not as colonialists, or archaeologists -- digging up precious booty to cart away to our own countries of plenty. Let us instead approach them like little green movie stars, or rather, mystics...children. Let us receive rather than take.

Let us hear the narratives of others with wonder and delight, being filled up rather than draining, plundering, or polluting that endless stream of magical stories that nourishes us all.


Yea, I'm feeling pretty inspired today. And as handsome as Harrison Ford may be with his bullwhip and fedora, that little green Jedi dude is looking pretty good to me right now.


Our judges have spoken and the winner of last week's book giveaway is

**Drumroll please**


Stay tuned for more author interviews, story prescriptions, and book giveaways!

1 comment:

  1. Gotta love Yoda. And I love that folk tale, too. :) And I think there is a certain grace about writers who can, like Yoda, be childlike but skilled when telling a story. Somewhere, out there, is a Yoda with a laptop who embodies the childlike sense of wonder like Sendak, coupled with the wisdom of a John Green. Where ever she is...I want to take her out for a cup of joe!