Many of us want a change for the better in our lives. We wonder why all our best efforts things stay the same year after year.
We buy self-help and how-to books and get a one week buzz from reading them and half-heartedly trying to apply the principles therein.
Then we fall asleep again until the next crisis causes us enough pain to remember again that we really do need a change.
But assuming there was an attitude we could cultivate which would help us to stay awake? Help us to maximize the benefit of our experience and even more importantly the benefits of the painful experience of others?
Supposing with this attitude we were able to accelerate our learning process to such a degree that we began to bypass and avoid the need to have painful experiences ourselves?
Enter the Story-learner.
There is nothing at all new about the story-learner. We all do it to a certain degree and have done it for thousands of years. But have we done it consciously and with the degree of application required to reap the full benefits?
To explore this idea further I think it would be a good idea to recap on what a story-learner is.
Just as you've most likely already guessed a story-learner is anyone who learns from stories. But wait a minute. How exactly does this learning come about?
The most natural way is by a near osmotic process as we go about are daily business listening to others and engaging in conversation.
But if you're anything like me then many stories heard and explored in this manner already fade into the dust of time and some eventually disappear completely from our conscious awareness.
But the true story-learner is never satisfied to let nature take its cause where story-learning is concerned.
In many cases you will find this creative individual working in a field where stories are like gold dust to be carefully scraped up, packed and then re-molded into an endless series of beautiful forms for passing onto others.
Vocations like writing (including song-writing), teaching, copywriting all profit tremendously from the right story-learning attitude.
What is this right attitude to story-learning and how can we cultivate it?
Here are a couple of tips which can be used regularly to hone and sharpen your story-learning skills:
1. Consciously decide to study people. Really study them with a view to learning something about the art of living from observing how they live.
I remember trying this with an associate at work. He apparently made it his life's work to make life as difficult for me as possible (having been in a position of some authority over me).
Just as I was at the point preventing myself to be beat into a propitating state of helplessness having tried a variety of approaches ranging from outright aggressiveness to fawning friendship I became fascinated with his personality.
My fascination great day to day to a point where his antics became something to study and learn from in an attempt to fathom why he behaved that way. What made him tick?
As the mystery began to unravel (the subject of another discussion we might have) there began a gradual shift in his attitude to me as he began to respond to my genuine interest in him which he began to pick up on at a subliminal level.
Within a year we had become good friends.
2. Personify life. For many of us the idea of life can be something of an unknown factor. We are at its mercy and that's it! The way I avoid this attitude which is really a trap is to give a face to life.
In giving life a face we are better able to confront it and learn from it. We should pro-actively learn from life before it teaches us a lesson – not afterwards.
The face of life is the face of all our friends, our enemies, our pets and even those inanimate objects we prize and possess or hate and discard.
Referring back to the first point about consciously deciding to study people you could say that one face of life was that of my abrasive work associate. By recognizing and learning from this face I Learnt quite a few lessons about how to improve my work habits.
I believe he did perceive that I was taking his criticisms on board but I think the final clincher which formed the bond of our friendship was my genuine interest in him as an individual.
So as you can see there is a bit of an overlap as both these techniques do work in tandem.
In part two of this series we will explore some tools which can be used to facilitate the process of story-learning.