A Goofy Wheelchair Race – A Lesson in Storytelling

I had a great laugh the other day as my running partner shared about how she entered a wheelchair race and took third place. I gave her a peculiar look since her legs were working just fine. Our discussion went on to reveal how the first place woman took a hairpin curve on two wheels, causing onlookers to gasp. There is nothing worse than watching a runaway wheelchair toss it’s victim to the ground.

The second place woman attempted to cheat, using her grandson’s flare gun from his boat to propel her wheelchair with an added boost. I was taken aback when I learned how my friend swerved at just the right moment to cut off another lady who ended up in fourth place. This was a side of my friend I had never seen before.

I asked why she entered a wheelchair race when she didn’t use one daily. She told me it was a race she thought she could win. She also told me that there were no rules stopping her from doing so and she glowed with pride when she shared how she entered the 80-year-old age bracket because they didn’t check id’s.

It was hilarious. Sick, but funny, especially if you know my friend. Seldom will friends explore a creative story on the fly and here she was making up complete backstory along with her throughline without hesitation. She even kept straight faced, hoping to capture my curiosity to the story’s validity. It was remarkable.

Storytelling can be a lot of fun, whether made up on the spot with creative insights and make believe role-playing like my friend did, or storyboarded milestones for a compelling business story. Not only is it fun for the teller and the audience, but story happens to embed it’s key points into the mind of those we influence.

The power of story is so significant that it was used by Jesus, Hitler, and Walt Disney. It didn’t matter if the stories were about spiritual life, a dominating race, or exploring the world from a child’s perspective, each story compelled people to consider what the teller  desired. It was also an easy and acceptable way to communicate a memorable point worth evaluating.

I heard a preacher tell a story 20 years ago that I still remember. Every time I face a related moral dilemma, I recall the story and make the right decision. But some stories are best forgotten.

Anytime I watch an unsavory type person persuade an unknowing subject, I recall the story that Mrs. Van Hussen told me about her time as a publicist working for Hitler. I was amazed at how they got people to believe that Jewish accountants on one street were actually raping young boys every night.

While Disney told stories for adventure and entertainment, I’ve found myself sharing stories that help people make decisions that improve their lives. Even at work, I’ve found myself answering questions in the form of a memorable story. In fact, I recently drew a picture that prompted my boss’s boss to ask me about the story behind it.

Just as a picture is worth a thousand words, story is a memorable tool that can easily be passed down from generation to generation. It is the one thing that draws us to the point of considering what we haven’t ever considered. It’s also the element that helps us to explore creative angles on any given problem with great results.

Telling a memorable story is simple. Just make sure it has a beginning that allows you to set up the point, a middle that works through the point, and an ending that makes the point. If you are able to present some related form of irony with it, your story will be all the more memorable.

So, like my friend, just dive in and share a goofy story on the fly for practice and see how you do. And, try to make the story something in keeping with your character, as my friend is still wondering if I understood that she was joking, as she told a story completely foreign to her actual choices in life.

Copyright © 2011 By CJ Powers
Photo  © caraman

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s