On Storycatcher

I recently finished reading Storycatcher – Making sense of our lives through the power and practice of Story- by Christina Baldwin.

As best summarized in the dust jacket: “…Christina Baldwin…explore the vital necessity of re-creating a sacred common ground for each other’s stories. Through story and example, Baldwin presents storytelling as an innate skill we can remember and practice. She shows the power of story to connect life experiences so that we can share them, learn from them, and teach each other through the medium of a good tale.” In the introduction the author goes on to state: “This book explores three premises about story: 1) How we make our experience into story determines how we live our personal lives 2) What we emphasize and retell in our collective story determines whether we quarrel or collaborate in our community 3) What we preserve in larger human story determines what we believe is possible in the world.”

What sets this book apart are the numerous personal stories that the author shares, that help make the concepts more applicable and concrete. The breadth of the impact of stories – on self, family, organizations, spirituality etc. is also commendable. Christina’s passion about storytelling is contagious and excites readers to listen to others’ stories  and tell our own.

Finally, the chapter – The Power of Story In Organizations (Chapter 8) – particularly resonated with me. It illustrates the importance of stories to reinforce and support the company vision and values. Overall, a great and recommended read on story telling and it’s power. For another recommendation on the same topic, please see my post on The Story Factor by Annette Simmons – https://timesheetchronicles.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/on-the-story-factor/ .

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1) “Story is narrative. Words are how we think; narrative is how we link. Story narrative has a sense of beginning, middle, and end. Story features characters, place, things happening; tension between what is known and unknown, between what is expected and what is surprise. Story takes life events and combines what’s happening with all our thoughts, feelings, and reactions. And all these elements combine inside story into sense making. Story is the sweet nectar of language.”

2) “Each of us has someone who put the honey in our heart. That person is often an ordinary person who becomes extraordinary person who becomes extraordinary through the power to touch another life. Teaching ourselves to recognize these persons and remember these moments is essential to becoming a Storycatcher.”

3) “Storycatchers are: 1) intrigued by human experience; 2) inquisitive about meaning, insight, and learning; 3) more curious than judgmental; 4) more in love with questions than answers; 5) empathetic without overidentification; 6) Able to hold personal boundaries in interpersonal spaces; 7) able to be present while others experience emotions; 8)able to be present while others have insight; 9) able to safeguard the space for listening; 10) able to invite forgiveness, release, and grace; 11) aware of story’s power and use it consciously; 12) practitioners of the heart of language.”

4) ” We are the species that has evolved with language; or perhaps we should say, language evolved us – Mary K. Sandford”

5) “In serving as the heart of language, story imparts four distinct gifts…1) Story creates context, 2) Context highlights relationship, 3) Context and relationship change behavior and lead to holistic and connected action 4) Connected action becomes a force for restoring/restorying the world.”

6) “Revising he self-story provides the foundation for doing our life work, and for seeing our lives, whatever we choose to do, as a never-ending story.”

7) “When people…rethink their personal stories, they begin to build a sense of connection and responsibility. They recognize that their actions can matter…They learn to view their personal stories as intertwined with history. – Paul Rogat Loeb”

8) “The work of story catching in organizations starts with the search to discover how this original groundwork has survived within the swirl of influences that have shaped the organization so far. We look for the interplay between the founding values of purpose story and the innovative mutations of organizational life. Toke and I all this the dance of the now and the purpose. The now consists of real people working together in real time. The purpose is the basis for the now; it is the initiating energy that set the organization into being.”

9) “When we apply storycatching skills to the conversations going on around us in organizations and listen to these stories consciously, we can tell whether the purpose is being reinforced, shifted, changed, sustained, ignored, or undermined. When the purpose story is tended, people’s day-to-day stories reinforce how successfully the organization is fulfilling its purpose is being reinforced, shifted, changed, sustained, ignored, or undermined. When the purpose story is tended, people’s day-to-day stories reinforce how successfully the organization is fulfilling its purpose under current conditions. If the purpose story is lost, misrepresented, or hoarded by leadership, the day-to-day stories speak of frustration, abandonment, and fragmentation.”

10) “What we need is hope. Hope is the story that keeps us going. Hope says the world is still beginning, life is young and still getting organized. Hope says come on in, there’s something only you can do, a story only you can share. Hope defines this time in history as a great turning; a time when human beings are taking our place as the earthly one capable of wisdom and good judgement. Hope blows evidence of this capacity back into our hearts, and fills us with stories that inspire action.”

11) “The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is to live inside that hope. – Barbara Kingsolver”

12) “Story is a search for community that allows us to share, build, and learn from each other. Intentional storycatching is a movement in the making, ensuring survival of the stories through oral and written traditions. Recognizing story as an act of citizenship, we know that the world can change on a word. Story can save us. We choose whether we want to live in hopefulness or despair. Storycatchers choose hopefulness, knowing that story has the power to change our lives.”


Omar Halabieh




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