What Storytellers Must Do With The Blocks

By Robert Kennedy III
What To Do When You're Blocked As A Storyteller?
What To Do When You're Blocked As A Storyteller?

You may be the world’s greatest communicator. But you won’t always be understood. You might be a superb wordsmith, and yet unable to convince everyone all the time. Lyrical wordplay might be your jam, and still, you will meet a quizzical look from time to time.

As a speaker, part of my job is influence and persuasion. Admittedly, I’ve had moments where I thought I’d failed because I didn’t persuade every person in the room. My batting average was less than perfect.

Perfection is responsible for more people quitting than anything else. Many people stop performing because they feel like failures the first time they fail. Sometimes, it isn’t a huge failure. It may simply be the inability to convince one person out of ten. Yet, we focus on the 1.

Why do we do this?

I remember offering a workshop and collecting the evaluations afterward. More than 90% of the evaluations said, “This was so amazing. I needed this.”

But, I remember feeling a little sting when I came across one that read, “The instructor was cool but I didn’t really learn anything new.”

WOW! I wasn’t perfect. I didn’t get a great score from this ONE person. The positive reviews made me smile but I paid ATTENTION to the one perceived negative. Isn’t it funny how that works? I’d received overwhelming praise and the negative was what stuck out.

Why is that?

Fear! We hang on to perfection because we fear that failure will grow. In other words, there may be a ton of positive but we’re scared the one negative will increase and others will believe the negative. Even when we don’t admit it, we want to be liked. We want to be believed. We want to be affirmed.

It won’t always happen. We may have perfect moments. We may have perfect performances. But we won’t always be perfect.

I need to remind myself from time to time.

Aspiring to perfection is good. However, I learn much more from failure.

I can deliver an impeccable speech. But, it’s when the one-liner falls flat that I learn.

The workshop may have been phenomenal. And I may have gotten mostly amazing evaluations. I receive and celebrate those. But, I’m also learning to value the negatives because they don’t diminish me. Instead, I’ve reframed them as building blocks.

Will I use all of the blocks?

No. Not all of them will fit the structure I’m building. Some of them will need to be observed for a moment, then placed in a box for distribution elsewhere. Some will be analyzed for similarity to blocks I actually need. And still, others will be set aside for later use.

These blocks all have a purpose and I get to direct them to that purpose no matter how they were initially intended.

I still have power to put the negatives in the place.