Tell Stories

I was trying to explain how the drug war doesn’t work. I would write these very careful, very well researched pieces and they would go into the ether and be gone. . . It was such an uphill struggle to tell this story with facts. When you tell a story with characters, people jump out of their seats.

David Simon, creator, producer, and primary writer for The Wire.

If you have any interest in the drug war, the plight of our inner cities, or the power of finding your voice, set aside forty-five minutes this week and watch both parts of this Bill Moyer’s interview with David Simon. Great stuff.

Simon is insightful and inspiring on so many levels. He has a keen understanding of what is happening to our inner cities and, more broadly, to the “unneeded” classes of our society. His observations are poignant and delivered with restrained passion.

There are many ideas that jumped out from Simon’s interview but one that should not be missed is Simon’s discovery that telling stories was a much more powerful way to communicate than journalistic articles based on research and facts. As I continue to develop as a public speaker I find myself on a similar journey of discovery.

I started my career as a teacher, teaching math and physics to high school students. I honed my ability to communicate complex ideas in a logical and progressive way that could be easily absorbed. Like Simon, I prepared judiciously and thoroughly to present facts to my students.

My message today goes far beyond the trigonometry and calculus of my early days of teaching. The lecturer is giving way to the leader and the speaker. As I seek to inspire people to take ownership of their careers and engage head-on with their lives I, too, am discovering that stories and metaphor are a much more powerful medium for moving people to action. I don’t expect to follow David Simon’s footsteps all the way to the writer’s room for a television show but I will continue to follow his inspiration in looking for ways to share powerful stories.

Write on David!

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