Appreciating Differences

Are you trying to build a “road to appreciation?”   Begin with the Personal Histories Exercise.

Take one day out of your schedule to share what Annette Simmons calls the “Who am I story.”  One by one have your team stand before their fellow team members and give a narrative account of their lives.  What were the highs, the lows, the defining moments that shaped who they are and where they are going.  Some may use a time-line, others a graph or list of key words or icons.  No two people need to do it exactly the same, and that is what makes it so powerful.  Their focus is on where they have been, where they were protected or where they failed, who were the people that had the greatest positive impact on their lives, what brought them to this place, and what do they want to accomplish now that they are here.  No visitors are allowed.  The team members laugh, they cry, and a real team begins to form.

Annette Simmons explains the power of the story this way.  “The experience of vulnerabilitywithout exploitation–helps us conclude that we can trust each other in other ways as well.”  This is true because our story reveals an aspect of ourselves that is otherwise invisible.  Our story breaks down the initial wall of suspicion that comes with meeting someone new.  Having facilitated this process many times, I have come to realize another benefit of telling your story.  It is not in how it influences others, but how it reminds you that your strengths are not found in perfection, and that your limitations are not fatal.

A story can transform the impotent and hopeless into a band of evangelists ready to spread the word.   Annette Simmons