Fly to where
One early morning I woke up and I could not feel myself. I raised my hand and there was no hand, I tried to feel my legs but could feel nothing. I tried to wake up from bed and I have no idea what woke up. Have I died, I thought in panic, or have I become invisible or worse still, a ghost?
I propelled myself to the mirror, nothing there, no reflection of me either. Surely I am a ghost now, I concluded. I edged closer to the mirror and saw the reflection of a housefly. I glued myself to the mirror and strained my eyes to see the eyes of the housefly staring back at me. I tried to move away and realized I was flying to do. I came back to the mirror and yes it was a housefly that was there.
I cried, I shouted, to no avail. I have been taught in the stories my parents have told me that every situation should be seen from multiple angles. Now as a housefly I tried to see what was positive in my current story. So here is a boy of 10, turned into a housefly and can be easily killed by human enemies, my situation was pathetic. Hold on, one good thing is that I could fly. I decide to enjoy my ability to fly. So who should I spy at first.? I flew out to see that my parents were having a heated argument over tea, and it was about my grades. I escaped from there and peeped into my sister’s room. She was fast asleep. Aha! it was time to take revenge for her snatching away my chocolates the day before and complaining to our parents when I pulled her hair to check if they would come off her scalp.
I first whirred in her ears and when she got up in irritation and looked around, I sat on her nose. She spanked herself in an attempt to hit me. Then I sat on her cheek and whirred all over her face. She jumped on her bed and ran after me but I took a u turn and sat on her nose again. Again she slapped herself, real hard this time though. I had a good laugh before I exited her room through the open window.
In the lawn I could fly over the flowers, sit on them, see the many insects humming their way around. Suddenly a bird swooped in and caught the insect sitting on the flower next to where I was. I realized I could have been the one who would eventually land up in her babies’ stomach. I understood how easy was it to die as a fly. Scared now, I flew back, only to find the window to my room shut. So I had to go in through my sister’s room window. There she was, sitting all ready to kill me with a mosquito bat. These humans are so brutal, when they see a mosquito or the likes, they become murderers. I somehow managed to escape. In my bed, I snuggled into the blanket and cried. There were so many things I had to do as a human, before I died and now I would not be able to. I cried more. I cried myself to sleep.
When I woke up, I raised my arm instinctively, remembering I was a fly at the same time. I could actually see my hand. I was human again. With a sigh of relief and the belief that the fly incident was just a dream I went outside. My sister was animatedly explaining to my parents how a fly got the better of her half an hour ago. I stifled a laugh.
In The Nick of Time: not a bedtime story
I am all of 16 and it is obvious that pajama parties are the most happening events for me, but this sounds like a bedtime story and worth listening to. Last night was one such party and when everyone finally decided to call it a night, it was 3 am in the morning. Tanya and me were sharing a room and in no mood to sleep or tell each other bedtime stories, we decided to have a terrace party.
We tiptoed to the terrace of Manali’s independent house with a rug, our sheets and pillows and lay on the floor, staring up at the stars. Many a times I have checked out the constellations in the sky with my two crazy brothers but this time, it was different. This time it felt soothing, peaceful and mysterious.
The night was magical and the silence musical, and we set onwards on our journey to the constellations.
Ursa Major is also called the big dipper. Right above it is the North Star. My big brother always explained that one should find the big dipper, locate the North Star and assume the small dipper. So we found Ursa Major and the North star and assumed the Ursa Minor. Mission accomplished, we went to sleep, watching the stars.
I woke up in the morning under the beautiful sky, with the sound of birds chirping and quietly turned on my side to see if Tanya was asleep. I froze. Sleeping happily next to me was a monkey, red faced and definitely not cute. I still had experience with constellations, but this was my first ever encounter with a monkey.
In what seemed like ages, I managed to slip out of my sheet and without as much as looking back, I ran all the way down to the ground floor, shouting away in fear, my pitch increasing as I reached Manalo’s room and literally pounced on her. She sat up in fear and shock and rubbed her eyes. Words seemed to be blocked inside my throat and I was waving and gesticulating. It took me a while to calm down and explain to her what had happened. My mobile phone was still upstairs, next to my pillow.
Armed with sticks and tongs and rolling pin, we went up to the terrace. Seema had had the foresight to carry some bananas from the dining table. What do we see but the monkey playing with my mobile phone, holding it to the ear and to the mouth.
The monkey was finding it very uninteresting and probably getting irritated. He raised it up in the air and would have probably smashed it against the floor had I not diverted his attention by flaying my hands wildly. I remembered the old story of the cap seller and the monkey and grabbed Tanya’s phone from her hand and quietly put it down. To my relief, the monkey did the same to my phone. Seema took the opportunity and threw a banana to the far end of the terrace. The monkey went to get it and I rushed to rescue my phone in that moment. Even before the monkey turned, Seema threw another banana, giving me enough time to run back. Quite a learning, and not a story, real life reel.
Seema now placed the entire bunch in the middle of the terrace and we all retreated and came down the stairs, locking the terrace door behind us.
Now we had our own bedtime story to tell to our younger siblings. There are stories for kids which reminds of our past, where bedtime stories by grandma and grand paa listening with intense attention, stories with morals that have shaped our childhood need to be passed on to our future generations in this busy life.
I am a business storyteller. And as you can guess, I guide people and corporates in discovering and crafting stories that make business alive. But imagine what happens when a business storyteller loses the plot and gets caught in a serious conflict. Yes, you need a storytelling coach.
For all these years I convinced myself to believe that I am a back-end guy, who plots. Sounds like The Chanakya, isn’t it? However, as a protocol, I would surface right at the beginning of a pitch when my job was to set the context of our version of any campaign, narrate the concept and take clients on a tangential voyage of hyper-imagination, until, I convinced them. Once the contract was bagged, I used to get back to my religious cocoon of mobilising the creative team to visually construct the content for the proposed campaign or event. This has been my precise KRA throughout my career with agencies.
I was the happiest man on earth, both appreciation and money-wise. The context was well set, and I was cruising. But as it happens in every story, believe me, in every story, you can always check it back with your own story as well; as I progressed, I didn’t realise I was heading towards the biggest conundrum of my life!
After an illustrative career, I shred my baggage of the fancy designation and after-parties of the agency life and switched on the ignition of a solo voyager’s off-roader. Wow! It was freedom! It was thrill. Now imagine, a back-end guy jumping the queue to lead! I was in the front line. Little did I realise that the bullets are hard to bite.
As a business storyteller in my career the challenge was simple; I was handicapped with the self-destructing attitude of a creative director and was convinced that the world is eagerly waiting to follow my orders. I was more like Keanu Reeves in Sweet November. Watched that 2001 Hollywood love story?
The same guys who used to spend hours discussing briefs and project plans with me, those guys whose mandate was Roy during every meeting, suddenly started rejecting me! All of them, one after another. It rocked me hard and it seemed as if I was negotiating the swinging deliveries on the Australian pitch. Inning after inning, I brought ducks back home.
Just about then, two events occurred in succession. First, my wife convinced me to take up a course of Angel therapist Mr. Nitin Mohan Lal. Let me tell you, I have been an atheist and I secretly cherished the concept of Illuminati. However, I forced myself to absorb Mr. Lal’s principles I learnt in his program and started practising it. I did it because all my so-called proven tracks led me nowhere!
I discovered few secrets through this business storytelling practice. And my prayers were answered. Mystically? I don’t know. But it happened. This led to the next episode. It was destined to be an exciting journey. I met an amazing gentleman by the name of Mr. Amit Chawla, my business clarity coach.
I never believed I do have to have a storytelling coach till I met him. Thus, our journey started. He attended my business storytelling workshop and he started handholding me through my journey of clarity. I got access to his intriguing tips. In one such session, he said ‘Change your story and see the world change for you’. Gosh!
Imagine my state! A storyteller was confused in his own plot till the time a guiding light came and rescued him!
First, I changed my script, what you often refer to as the sales pitch. Then, I changed my relationship mantra, what you love to refer as PR. And then, I narrowed down on my strategic Gantt chart. Finally, I restarted my off-roader. Broom!
This reminded me of an incident long, long ago, when I was just a 7-year-old, intolerably pranky boy. I always had uncomfortable and curious queries just about everything in life. One day my mom took me to a temple. It was a vast area with so much to see and do. One had to travel few hundred meters to visit different idols housed at different zones within the campus. A monkey by the tail, I was the last soul to settle. I jumped around till I found an old priest seated beneath a huge tree. He was quietly observing me and smiling. I almost landed on his lap as I jumped on the cemented pedestal. I asked him, ‘Who is God?’
Jesus Christ, my curiosity must have had limits!
The priest said, ‘imagine, you are lost in a pitch dark tunnel, nothing you can see, not a soul to hear your cries… you are desperate…stumbling every time you are struggling to inch forward… you are losing your zeal to find the way out… fear is gripping you with its gigantic tentacles like an octopus… just then, you feel someone hold your hand with a tight grip… he assures you and takes you along… you can’t fathom how he looks… after some toil, you see the sunlight you were so desperate about… you scream in joy and turn back to thank your saviour… but, he is gone… not even his voice can be heard… that saviour, my dear child, is God… your guiding light…’
Without doubt, I understood nothing back then… what I did instead was, I can safely assume given my nature, I jumped back on ground, gave back a monkey-face to that gentle priest and hopped away… but somehow, his words got stuck in my subconsciousness… only to reveal itself like the phoenix after so many years hence…
I was still seated in front of my clarity coach!
So, what’s your story? or do you need a need a storytelling coach.
I was seated on the first floor at CCD editing my film. The noise upstairs is always within acceptable decibles. Hence I prefer the top end corner. Although the WiFi doesn’t reach that far, I manage it from my smartphone hotspot itself. Always. Project deadlines were stringent and my Macbook was reluctant to respond my way. Irritation was brewing but there was hardly anything I could do… Unfortunately, I didn’t have Tim Cook’s coordinates! I still don’t have it.
I was still struggling with my old horse when two (robust) gentlemen walked in and occupied the sofa. They sunk inside with ease and commanded (!) two coffees. They caught my fancy in between my machine’s unusual render lag.
They started discussing sale purchase, as usual. Real estate lords they were, after all!
By the way, it’s a hard time as the world is still hankering for a solution out of this COVID19 pandemic. When everyone is blaming the Coronavirus, I have decided to follow suit. Monthly income is undergoing the huge imbalance of the millenium and few quadrants of a million seems too obscure. Networth is like the unreliable mobile network and I have to live with it. Backend maintenance is always the excuse as optic fibre is optically frivolous.
In the midst of this mammoth crisis, these two gentlemen started punching in their cheques and balances.
They started off with 300 million as their bid price. I was taken off-guard at once!
The amount started with an upswing till it hit a course correction. I was all ears while obliquely monitoring my machine’s progress. It was a classic conflict of timelines
Even if their personal sensex was in between a tug of war, but the numbers were huge! I quickly checked my account balance online.
Pitted against the coffeehouse wall, one, I had my back against it, and two, no one could shoulder-surf. Yet, I looked back, just in case. Yes, I was the last man sitting.
Our protagonists, on the other hand, were busy in their equations, relentlessly justifying the worth of millions.
I was depressed equating their pep talks and my pocket hole. I wondered what could be the secret of a millionaire. I was so much lost in my (mis)calculations, I never noticed the latte being served.
I nodded thanks to the Coffee-boy and sipped in the sugarless creamy froth. Immediately, I burnt my lips!
A few bucks of coffee rendered the jitters of an unrealistic dream I was so much engrossed in. I resumed my concentration on the millionaires’ mission.
The bid had, by then hit the 500-million mark! I murmured ‘Nah-my-god! Not my cup of…’ I held back the coffee cup and stared at it.
I’m still sipping one! Of course, something’s worth my cup of coffee! Half a penny more, or less.
The thing with life is, can be a story narration, as it never happens our way; instead feels difficult at times. With life as a story, the negative emotions come naturally. But coming out positive is a choice we all need to make. But we learn them, only when we share through storytelling. Story for all ages do exist, storytelling is the food for thought for humans to survive. While storytelling is an art, listening to stories which have excellent story narration impacts our long term memories.
The true wisdom lies in reacting according to any situation. This is what a Chef father (Jacob) told her daughter (Enola), who always complained about life.
But the daughter was not ready to gulp father’s heavy dose of wisdom until Jacob demonstrated how she could choose to bring out her best irrespective of any situation.
This story narration does offer a great life lesson. Let’s Unlock the story!
Enola had always had complaints about life. She always felt miserable in her life. She complained all this to her father until one fine day, Jacob decided to show her a way out of this feeling.
Being a chef, the best Jacob can work out with was ingredients from the kitchen. Therefore, he took Enola to the kitchen. He then filled three pots with water and placed each on high flame.
Once these pots began to boil, Jacob put a Potato in one, Eggs in the second, and Coffee beans in the third one. He then let each boil without saying a word to Enola.
Enola waited impatiently, wondering what’s going on. After ten minutes, Jacob turned off the flames, placed the potato on a plate, eggs on another plate, and finally poured Coffee into a cup.
Jacob then turned to Enola and asked, “what do you see?”. “Potato, Eggs, and Coffee”, she replied hurriedly.
Jacob again asked Enola to look closer and touch each item.
Enola touched potatoes and noticed they were soft. She then turned to eggs, pulled off the shell, and found out that they were hard-boiled.
Finally, she took the coffee and smelled it. The rich aroma brought a smile to her face.
Jacob then explained what Enola had just experienced. Each item had faced the same adversity, the boiling water. However, each reacted differently.
The potato went in strong and came out soft. The eggs went fragile and came out hard. However, the coffee beans reacted uniquely. They changed their shape and came out with something new, with a rich aroma.
Jacob then asked Enola, which are you? When adversity knocks on your door, what you choose to be? The potato, an egg, or coffee beans?
The Way People Say
We all need stories. Here’re few stories from the global repertoire, served fresh for you. Storytelling is as old as this human civilization itself. However it also requires a storyteller who uses story narration. You can be one of them, use a story telling coach within your space, at your pace, whenever and wherever.
Why do we live?
There are many answers to that question. ‘To realise a purpose’ is a common yet insightful answer to the existential question. What if we are loaded with problems and cannot materialise this purpose? You may either live it against all odds or leave it in search of better, greener pastures. There is nobility in both paths, though the first one demands the fighter in you to get up and get going.
The cobra and the crows is a story that pops into mind as we mull on this topic. There are two types of crows in the story. The first set did not believe in fighting for their cause and they leave their nests. The second set, in fact, a crow couple, goes to great lengths to live their purpose, that is to safeguard their nests.
The story follows the exploits of a cobra who lived in a hole in the tree. Crows built nests after nests only to find their chicks disappearing from their cherished nests without hunting for the enemy. They ran for their lives and the lives of their families. Needless to say, the cobra was the culprit. He had a good meal of all the chicks that hatched.
However, a unique crow couple decided to investigate and found that it is a vile cobra that is eating up all the fledglings. The father crow comes up with a shrewd plan. He steals the gold necklace of the queen as she takes bath in a pond nearby. The crow drops it near the cobra’s hole. The guards and the villagers beat the cobra to a pulp as they venture to take the necklace from the cobra’s hole.
As the story goes, the crow family was able to hatch their chicks in a safe environment and they lived happily.
Sometimes when all doors are closed it is imperative to hatch a Plan B. It may be smart if not shrewd. But that is the only way to realise your purpose, in this case, to live a safe family life. The crow indirectly sought the help of villagers to get back at the cobra. Remember he is the only crow that decided to fight back to live peacefully. Having said that it may not be easy for every to be a clever fighter. One could choose one’s way — Live it or leave it.
Haven’t we heard toxic people discouraging us? But even good people can discourage us with their good intentions. It is impossible not to listen to the multitude of opinions and noisy comments from the people around. But active listening will help us separate the chaff from the grain.
Active listening includes the right analysis and understanding the intention of the speaker. If the analysis is right, it is easier to take what is needed and chuck what is unworthy. Our failure to understand the focus of the speaker can land us in trouble. Let us revisit the sad story of an eaglet who passively followed the rusty words of fellow chicks.
There once lived an eaglet along with a flock of chickens as the mother hen had hatched the fledgling eagle counting it as just another egg. The eaglet lived like a chick. But was unhappy since he wanted to fly and none of his siblings flew. He was frequently discouraged by other chicks saying ‘chicks do not fly’, which is, very well true.
He failed to understand that chicks were not talking about him! The urge in him to fly could have been pursued if he had understood the real intention of the chicks. They were not discouraging the eaglet. They didn’t want chicks to fly. They didn’t want him to go separately from the flock and be prey to other animals. They were naive fellows who underestimated the eaglet’s potential.
He saw other eagles soaring high near the cliff top and timidly flapped his wings like a chick. That’s the best he could do, or so he thought.
What should the eaglet have done? Ideally he should have followed his dreams to fly high by actively listening to the chicken and pit it against their backdrop (limiting context).
Don’t you think, an understanding of the context is half the text known? And even, half the battle won!
Life unfolds around us in so many ways. So do problems. Sometimes minor, sometimes major, and rest of the times, not so knotty.
We all have been there at least once in our lives. We get so much entangled in a problem that we forget to look at a solution that lies somewhere else. Probably in the opposite direction.
Blame it on our focus or human psychology; we keep contemplating problems rather than thinking about solutions. We easily believe the things said to us rather than finding out answers. But once you realize you have only one way out, you possibly do everything to Unknot the Knot.
That’s what our protagonist did when left with nothing but a futile piece of land. Futile, because he was told so. He never did try to figure out if the land actually is barren or not, until a Sage unknot his only livelihood resource.
Care to find what happened next? Let’s roll!
The incident takes us back to when farmers were paid due respect and, of course, their wages. But our protagonist, Rama, was hardly able to make ends meet by selling milk from his only cow. However, Rama owned a hefty amount of land but all barren, as he was told.
The other day he was visited by a Sage with one of his disciples. They both were surprised to notice acres of land kept unattended and to acknowledge that it is futile.
After the greetings, Rama complained to the Sage that his life was miserable and that he didn’t know how he would make it right. He was tired of struggling all the time. He didn’t know what to do for a comfortable living. It seemed as if he had failed.
The Sage then advised that Rama should at least once try his luck with the land. But Rama was reluctant to do so, rather liked his idea to sell off milk for whatever he gets.
Isn’t Rama like many of us? Thinking only about the problem and never about the solution?
The next day, the Sage, along with his disciple, got ready early morning. While leaving the house, he unknotted the cow’s rope and set her free. The disciple could not believe that his master has untied Rama’s only source of income! He was not confident enough to ask his master why he did so.
A year passed, and the Sage, along with his disciple, revisited Rama. They were again surprised to notice rice paddies in the entire barren land.
The disciple then got to know it was essential to set the cow free, because sometimes the knot you feel is your only security is probably the only Stumbling Block to grow further!
The Way People Say
We all need stories. Here’re few from the global repertoire, served fresh for you to use within your space, at your pace, whenever and wherever.
Has any narrative ever influenced you? Has it ever empowered you to overcome situations where limits were almost impossible to cross?
As if some strange thoughts blocked your vision and made you helpless, but boom, you listened to a narrative, and you have your next move ready?
If yes, congrats; you are one in a million who looks out for solutions everywhere. Not many have it in their personas.
Limits are nothing but only the boundaries we set. And the strange fact is, you can select one to anything; to yourself, to others, and to your perspective.
But the unique reality is, even a small change in perspective can alter the entire narrative. That reminds me of a story that covers the complete essence of this rendition.
A story that roughly dates back to 200 BC. A time when technology was nowhere (true or false?) but “intellect” was prevailing. The essential ingredient of human existence was wrapped up excellently with some superb narrations structured so convincingly that it holds its essence even today and passed from generations.
That’s how we got the stories of Panchatantra.
We all know the story of the thirsty crow wandering in search of water. What we don’t remember is the story of a ladybug who interrupted the crow’s quest in an unpleasing manner.
The ladybug was native to the courtyard where the crow landed in search of water. He got the sight of the pitcher having a water level so low that he could not have made it.
But here, the magic unfolds. The ladybug outrightly passed the judgment for the crow letting him know he can’t get through. She was right, though, but it’s the perspective that helped crow changed the entire story. Ladybug’s judgment may have rolled up the required inertia for the crow to excel.
There’s a ladybug inside every one of us or, may be around us. These ladybugs can overpower us at work too, or at life, or can play with our emotions.
This goes true for every situation of life, business, relationships, and everything in between.
Behold your typical sight for branding narration. They can help you focus on solutions rather than on problems. So next time when life seems like a pitcher with a shallow water level, you have the stones to level up!