My friend Don has a time machine. He takes me with him sometimes. You should come, too! Every person who rides in Don’s time machine is changed by it.
The United States Department of Justice has booked passage on Don’s time machine for countless prison inmates. State and local governments and hundreds of rehab centers have booked journeys for people as well. Thirty-five million in all.
Each trip through time begins with a series of words.
My friend Don is a storyteller.
Stories of the past help us to know who we are.
Stories of the future help us to see who we can become.
Stories are more effective than facts for changing beliefs and behaviors. Facts cause us to put our shields up and become skeptical. But when we are absorbed in a story, we drop our intellectual guard.
With these thoughts in mind, Don invented “interactive journals,” booklets that allow people in crisis to revisit their past and imagine a better future. Each reader of an interactive journal becomes the co-creator of two stories. (1.) the story of how they got into this mess, and (2.) the story of a brighter tomorrow.
We imagine every action before we take it. If we want to change our behaviors, we need only to imagine different actions than the ones we have imagined in the past.
Stories are portals of escape into alternate realities.
An examination of the brain of any mammal will let us know its superpower. Monkeys can swing artfully through trees, not because their bodies are different, but because more than half of their brain mass is devoted to depth perception, color differentiation, and guided grasping.
According to Professor Steven Pinker of MIT and Harvard, “The human brain, too, tells a story. Our brains are about three times too big for a generic monkey or ape of our size. The major lobes and patches of the brain are different as well. The olfactory bulbs, which underlie the sense of smell, have shriveled to one third of the expected primate size (already puny by mammalian standards), and the main cortical areas for vision have shrunk proportionally as well…while the areas for hearing, especially for understanding speech, have grown…to twice what a primate our size should have.”
The superpower of we humans is our unique ability to attach complex meanings to sounds.
Every word in the English language is composed of just 44 sounds called phonemes. We arrange these into clusters called words which we string together in rapid succession so that others can see in their minds what we see in ours.
In the first chapter of Genesis, God says, “Let there be this” and “Let there be that” for 25 verses, and then in verse 26 he says, “Let us make mankind in our own image.”
According to that ancient story, God spoke the world into existence and then gave you and me the power to do the same. When you, as a storyteller, speak a world into existence in the minds of your listeners, you are doing the work of God.
Don Kuhl has spent the past 30 years unleashing the power of storytelling in the hearts and minds of millions of people to help them find peace, hope, and happiness.
I look forward to seeing where he takes us today.
Roy H. Williams
New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling
business author of The Wizard of Ads trilogy