If you asked me in high school if I would write stories when I was older, much less WANT to write stories, I’d laugh you out of the room. Growing up, I always struggled with explaining abstract concepts, pulling one idea from here and connecting it to something over there, as usually required to stitch a great story together. Perhaps it was the structure required to write for english class that I didn’t like. Maybe it was the vulnerability required to write what I feel. Who knows. Either way, I couldn’t stand it and had no interest.
Once high school was done, I went on to work construction and never really went back to the books for a few years. Even without school, the use of stories in life had never been far away. Most days on a job site when we stopped for coffee, one of the older guys would inquire about my age, then proceed to tell a story about when they were my age. One guy would talk about how they had to carry bricks by hand through the mud, before they could afford a forklift. Another guy would talk about shovelling a whole dump truck load of sand by hand! What I found amazing was how a simple day of work could be woven into a story about a great and daring adventure.
As the years passed and I met more characters, I began to notice the impact these storytellers had on the group. Most of them were average workers, steady production but nothing spectacular, yet they had this ability to pull everyone in and hold our attention. Above all else, these guys are the ones we went home and talked about. It started to click to me that this ability to tell a story actually had real world application, not just to get through an english class.
Fast forward to today. I’ve left construction and entered the business of real estate. For anyone with experience, you’d understand when I say real estate is certainly a unique culture of people. Theres constant oneupmanship, where one agent will parade his new listing around the office, showing off his “latest catch”. It seems the commission-only pay structure has killed the camaraderie and replaced it with a cut-throat “hard selling” mentality. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think if you can tell people an interesting story, build a solid relationship rooted in trust and integrity, you won’t need to do any “hard selling” at all. You don’t need to twist anybody’s arm to work with you. They’ll work with you because they like you and you get along.
I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy writing in the structured essay format taught in english class, but I’ve learned that writing is an essential life skill. When mastered, it will allow me to have a deep impact on people and create a bond that goes well beyond a transaction. Who knows, people might even tell stories about me someday.