Acclaimed writer David Wallace killed himself on Friday.
This is a terrible, but true, story.
David once wrote:
“If a [story] can allow us imaginatively to identify with a character’s pain, we might then also more easily conceive of others identifying with our own. This is nourishing, redemptive; we become less alone inside. It might just be that simple.”
Great leaders are great story-tellers who realize that people, like David, are desperately in need of great stories. These leaders craft a narrative where people can find hope and even redemption.
Daniel Pink, in his disgustingly applicable book, A Whole New Mind, spends a whole chapter discussing the power of story. At the end of the chapter he suggests, among other things, to practice honing your skills as a story-teller through a device called a ‘mini-epic.’
A mini-epic is a story told in 50 words.
No more. No less.
It’s kind of like a haiku on crack.
And once you get started, it’s just as addictive.
A few months ago I had one of my teams write mini-epics to describe how people feel when they hang out with us for the first time, as told from the new person’s perspective. The hope was to rediscover our experiences of when we were new, when we didn’t feel like we belonged, when we watched from the outside looking in.
Below is a mini-epic I wrote inspired by the day after Abram abandoned his past to create a better future in the book of Genesis.
Enjoy and try writing your own!
In memory of others who, like David, are searching for their story…
Sand compacts under sandals, making room for feet of those who heard the voice.
Or did they?
His wife isn’t so sure; he can see his own doubt in her furrowed brow.
The sun sets, they will be cold tonight…
…With nothing but a promise keeping their hearts warm.