5 Real-Life Lessons About Storytelling

Part 1 – Vulnerability
  1. Ability to be Vulnerable
  2. Power of true stories
  3. Seeing Me, Recognising You
  4. Changing Judgements
  5. Breaking barriers – building community

To bring a sense of what is possible with Story, I offer a glimpse into 5 key areas where real-life stories create an impact. This is a 5-part blog because each point above is a key to a whole picture of Story and being human. They each deserve a blog post of their own. Let’s open the doorway to part 1 – The ability to be vulnerable.

Vulnerability is my top Lesson because it is rarely spoken about openly, is a powerful place, often misunderstood and sidelined as not important or relevant. Certainly, in the business world it is relegated and often stamped upon. Yet it is a very powerful place that is deeply important to our humanity.

If you know your vulnerable points and have learned to live with them, thats to be celebrated!

For those who still hide, who fear being seen, who have been derided and put down, or even abused and badly mistreated, vulnerability is either something you constantly live with, fear or will never speak about or own. It requires a deft and sensitive touch with supportive honest holding to bring back trust to that area.

Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is like Alice going through the Looking Glass, you have no idea what its going to look like or feel like on the other side and yet it seems way too fragile. Surely it and you will fall apart if you step through, won’t it?

This is where Storytelling helps.

It opens us up to this space.

We can venture there more easily through participation in reading, listening or watching stories where this quality is revealed. We can join in safely. Ted Talks are a great example of real-life stories that touch us and open us to our vulnerability.

Vulnerability is the soft underbelly of the human spirit

The moment when a dog willingly offers its soft belly to be stroked is a total opening. This can have 1 of 2 effects – to be hurt or to be melted. It is the fear of being hurt, especially if you have been in the past, that protects this place and rightly so, as long as it doesn’t become a prison and you get locked in.

We need to learn when to step into and out of the looking glass, to be at ease with Vulnerability because, there is this perpetuated myth you see …

There is a gross misunderstanding about Vulnerability. Firstly, it is innately in us. You can’t get rid of it and because it feels weak (though this is only the first step of surrender into it), it is seen as weak, as less than and conventionally, holding no ‘power.’ It is seen as having no relevance. This is a deeply misguided stance that fosters ignorance. It needs to be diffused.

Vulnerability in the story world…

Or theatre or the arts is the place that is willingly surrendered too, in order to tell a great story or create great art that touches others. We consider that normal in that kind of space, but we don’t cherish its use in our lives.

To get there, you do have to step through the ego boundary, the looking glass, that is designed to protect you from being hurt, and because that’s scary, we try not to go there.

It requires trust in the unknown and courage to take the step
There is a potency about vulnerability.
It is where truth sits.

You cannot do manipulation, or spin in its presence. The integrity of that space is sensitive to lies. Any twists and turns will be found out. The audience will know you are not being truthful, and you will lose them.

You can only get there by giving up your masks – there is no other way.

… but when you do venture there, the bounty that is gained is far greater                                                                        than you could imagine:

  • It allows for a greater intimacy (into-me-see).
  • Gives others permission to lower their guard.
  • Extends the invitation to our shared humanity.
  • It’s an immense opportunity to be real, to be authentic.
  • It connects.
  • It fosters integrity, rapport and respect.
  • Is a very powerful place to meet each other.

A great speaker will be vulnerable, a great storyteller, actor, writer, artist will be vulnerable, in order to touch your inner senses.

It is not a victim stance. For the artist, it is a place of surrendering to something greater and unknown. It takes you to a place of creation, innovation and inner knowing, to see what will emerge.

We are all artists of our lives

We can borrow from the knowledge of ‘artists’ and when it is appropriate to do so, in safety or by conscious choice, we too can go there and see what is to be found and gained. Imagine using that in work! What a revolution!

For those who would stamp on it

I suggest that compassion is reserved for the prison they are in. This is the paradox, it looks like they are strong and yes, they might be so physically, emotionally, mentally, but if they choose to stamp on vulnerability, you know they have lost empathy and humanity, they are shut off and that is a very lonely place to be.

Next time you find yourself feeling vulnerable, can you take the time to be present with it? Or re-imagine later when its more convenient what it would be like? Could you be a silent companion with it? Get to know how it feels. How that step into it feels.

 You will know when you are there, because when you have stepped through the looking glass with your soft under belly opened, and your masks down, a paradox occurs, you feel strong, and fear disappears.



Pictures – Attributed – 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) Creative Commons




Thank you for reading and commenting…. pleasure to write it.


Hallo Sarupa, thank you for the feedback. Fantastic that you were taught vulnerability is a strength. What a great foundation for life. There is still too much about weakness versus the strong. Partly why I wrote the post too. Put some perspective back.

Honey Lansdowne

Yes vunerability is a very powerful connector and makes others feel safe. A good read, thanks.

Sarupa Shah

I have always been taught vulnerability is a strength – I think social media made it about sharing weaknesses – like we are all in it together and the more pain I share the more you might buy of me – true vulnerability is inspiration and not about the sale… love this post!

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