Stories are in every aspect of our lives. From the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep, we both consume and share stories through a limitless number of communication channels.
Without these stories, we’re alone.
Imagine if you woke up tomorrow and you were the only person left in the world. All of the books in the world had been burned, and there was no internet or even memory of past experiences or the people you had known and interacted with.
Although we don’t have to live in that fictional world without stories, there are many people who feel like they are. These people don’t have the stories they need — stories of inspiration and support from people who have once been in their exact shoes. Stories of people who have had worse times than they have and have made it through.
Stories are a large part of the experiences and lessons that make up our base of knowledge, but what happens when important stories are withheld and the wrong stories are being told?
We live in a world of selfish storytellers.
So what is a selfish storyteller?
My name is Michael Luchies, and I’m a selfish storyteller. Unfortunately, this label applies to all of us. In fact, it’s a part of our nature, and something that has increased in value since the invention of the internet and social media. Selfish storytelling is telling stories for our sole benefit.
Take a look at your Facebook profile, Twitter Feed, or LinkedIn profile. You’ve crafted these pages to tell stories to represent you in a very calculated way to help yourself. But what stories are you sharing to help others?
In my TEDx talk at TEDxNormal, The Importance of Being an Unselfish Storyteller, I shared my experience of going through a rare toe surgery as a teenager. It was painful and something I never wanted to think about again. A year and a half later, I was contacted by my podiatrist and asked if I could help explain to a young girl what it was like as she was scheduled for the same surgery.
Selfishly, I never returned that call, and failed that girl. She went through the surgery without someone who knew what it was like. Without someone who could comfort her. She went into surgery without the surgery she needed.
I have since attempted to correct this mistake by sharing my most painful or dark secrets or embarrassments if I believe they have the potential to help someone else. I’ve had to overcome the pain in my past and become comfortable with being vulnerable. It hasn’t been easy, but if I can help just one person through a tough time that I also experienced, it’s worth sucking up my pain and fear for the benefit of another.
If given the opportunity to help someone selflessly with a story you have, will you rise to the challenge? Have the courage to be an unselfish storyteller.