Contrary to the widespread notion that only some have "artistic talent," every human has an innate desire and capacity to:
Everyone is potentially an artist. Everyone is potentially a storyteller.
Storytelling is an art that is already practiced, in its basic form, by just about everyone.
As a result, storytellers show that every human activity can be elevated into art - and, therefore, that the basics of art are available to everyone.
When we tell stories, we lead by helping people to notice the potential art that surrounds them.
Avoid the Talent Trap
As we promote the value of storytelling, by the way, we must avoid a tempting trap.
We may have just put enormous effort into establishing this message:
"Storytelling can be developed as highly as music, literature, or drama."
In the heat of passion to establish the value of our art, it can be easy to forget the other half of the message:
"And everyone is potentially an artist. To function as an artist, you must develop your abilities - but everyone of you has artistic abilities to develop."
Thus, to continue as true leaders, we must not transmit the destructive fallacy of "rare talent" - even when the acceptance of this fallacy might seem to make it easier to establish that great storytellers are great artists.
In the long run, this "shortcut" to the acceptance of storytelling will delay the restoration of storytelling - and all art - to its true, central place in human society.
Our society tends to separate all of us from our intrinsic creativity, preferring to make us into consumers of pre-made art and pseudo-art.
To do so, it systematically
discourages us from seeing ourselves as artists
creates an inflated demand for "the best" or the "most popular" art.
One way that art is turned into a commodity is through the rating of works of art and artists on a scale of "bad" to "best."
In the end, a dollar value is assigned to each work. Most are "worthless," but a few are promoted world-wide.
If we acquiesce in the rating and comparing of art and artists, we support this destructive system.
But if we steadfastly refuse to compare, we become leaders in another way. We demonstrate a way to escape the confusing and debilitating pattern of
commercialization of art.
We reclaim art as an expression of:
To achieve our full potential as artistic leaders, we must never allow any artistic effort to be disparaged, discouraged, or devalued - including our own.
We must remember that works of art, like people, cannot be rated on a linear scale. Instead, we must seek the spark of creativity - no matter how small - in each artistic effort.
In short, to maximize our impact as storytellers, we must also function as coaches.
We must demonstrate our belief in the potential success of every storyteller.
Stay Flexible In Praise
Even as we turn our attention to the creative spark in each artistic endeavor, of course, we remain free to notice the difference between what succeeds at a given moment and what does not.
To avoid the rigid criticism of art we do not have to replace it with rigid, empty praise - with pretending that something works better than it does. Instead, we can find what there is to praise in each effort.
Like Pablo Casals, we can rejoice in the the artistic impulse wherever it surfaces.
Like all true leaders, we will not deny the problems that currently exist, but we will keep our attention focused on increasing our successes.
Storytelling brings out aspects of our true nature as humans:
we are all artists
we are all valuable
we each deserve encouragement
it is in our interest for everyone to succeed.
As storytellers, we lead by our example, our words, and our actions. We help each person develop into
But the stories we tell can make us leaders in yet another way:
they remind people what it means to be human.
Like artworks in other media, stories can portray, in imaginative form, some aspect of human experience or potential.
They can portray:
our past triumphs and struggles
the opportunities and dangers we face in the present
some part of our possibilities for the future.
Stories can accomplish this portrayal both literally and metaphorically.
Our personal, family, and historical stories can show who we have been
and even who we might be capable of becoming.
At the same time, a fantasy about a future society can portray a piece of human experience from the past just as easily as a fairy tale or animal story can portray our as yet unrealized potential for heroism or cooperation.
No society can achieve its potential without leaders who remind us of
who we are
what we can become.
And when we storytellers understand our "high estate" as leaders, we are more likely to act like leaders - in our actions and in our choice of stories.