In Rome in 2012, and then Prague in 2013, Jane and I became inspired to create Storyforth, a cross-cultural initiative bringing storytelling skills to the workplace.
Jane lives in Singapore. I’m in Boston. When we met, we were both teaching at the annual Women’s International Network (WIN) conference. Against the backdrop of Rome’s night sky, we were surprised to learn that we shared the same degree: Social Ecology (University of California, Irvine, USA).
“This is the first time that I have met someone with my degree,” said Jane.
“Me too,” I replied.
During the decades that followed our graduations, we didn’t expect to meet another person who studied Social Ecology, an interdisciplinary program that taught students to find unusual connections between ideas for today’s human problems. In fact, in the 1970s, Social Ecology offered a new approach to learning in a University setting. Few were familiar with crossing boundaries between disciplines to find new ways to address our current challenges.
Jane and I confessed to each other that the impact of this undergraduate work was profound. Today we both appreciate how these interdisciplinary studies have shaped our approach to work and life—including our methods for teaching storytelling skills.
One year later, our conversations continued at the next global WIN conference, only now surrounded by the artistry of Prague’s old buildings. We discovered that when we earned PhDs, we both conducted research using narrative inquiry and qualitative analysis. In other words, we focused on stories.
When we listen to stories, we see the relationship between the story and our own experiences. We become engaged and that engagement can lead to meaningful action at work.
Action leads to action.