"If you cry 'forward', you must make it clear the direction in which to go. Don't you see that if you fail to do that and simply call out the word to a monk and a revolutionary, they will go precisely the opposite directions."
Anton Checkhov

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Good morning, and I trust this edition of Leadership Notes finds you well.

I've been thinking about the importance of 'story' this past week, in part because of the sermon preached by The Ven. Dr. Ellen Clark-King on Sunday at Christ Church Cathedral here in Vancouver. http://www.cathedral.vancouver.bc.ca/news_info/sermons/2010_0314.htm  Ellen does a masterful job unpacking the great story of 'The Prodigal Son'.

I have been thinking about the stories of our organizations and for ourselves. (If you really want to be stopped in your tracks, consider, what stories do your children tell about you?! That's for another time perhaps!) To the subject at hand, what are the stories our customers tell about us? What are the stories our employees tell about working in our organization? What stories do our team mates tell about us? What are the stories we tell about our selves?

But these questions, are really only the beginning. As leaders, we are more and more becoming responsible for the story of our team, or organization; what is important to us? what direction are we headed? why are we doing what we're doing? are all questions that stories answer. For example, in catching up with a friend, he told me that his company had moved into a related line of business. Now the related line of business was unpredictable, and anyone who had an experience in it had reams of horror stories of missed deadlines, missing equipment, and frustrations. He said, "we simply guarantee it will be perfect." That was his company's story in this business; it will be perfect, guaranteed. 'Perfect' was important to the clients and to his company, 'perfect' was a simple and clear destination for all of the staff on these projects, 'perfect' was why they were in the business, because someone needed to step up to the plate. They had gone from something like 11 jobs in 2008 to 234 jobs in 2009.

What is your team or organization's story? A place to begin is to go to your organization's vision, and ask yourself, what is a story that illustrates this vision? Or go to your organiation's values, what stories can you think of that illustrate those values? Nick Nissley at the Banff Centre puts it this way, "If you don’t have a story, you're a commodity. If you're a commodity then the only thing that matters is price." I wonder if that is what you want for your team or organization?

I hope that this week is filled with story and adventure for us all! Have a great week!