One of my favorite books is “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller. It is likely that if you got very far into a conversation with me, a story about that book would emerge. The book is founded on Donald’s realization that he was living a life that no one would pay to attend if it were made into a movie. Essentially, he was not writing an interesting enough story with his life for anyone to really care or pay attention.
The book gently awakens the idea and then “sucker punches” you with an incontrovertible truth: Living a better story with your life is completely within your control and it is precisely what you were placed on this earth to realize. Living a more interesting story is a choice. My brief 5 year journey with the book looks like this:
- Around the same time I went on a Strategic LifePlan retreat, I read the book.
- Ended up giving out 22 copies as gifts to friends and acquaintances.
- Particularly impacted by one short story, raised money and sent my wife and daughters to Africa.
- That trip and other decisions we made out of the stirring of the book, changed the culture of our family.
- Had numerous people I knew embark on significant personal journeys as a result of the reading.
- Won a contest on Donald Miller’s website due to my experience with the book and received another case of them in the mail that I also handed out to others.
- Watched my three older children (who all read the book) begin to write about changing the world and living better stories on their personal blogs.
The other thing I realized on this journey is that it is no different for businesses. In a socially connected world, your company, organization, or even your family, needs to be telling a significant story. Isn’t that really the point for Christians… that we have significant stories to tell about our experience with the faith? Not facts, figures, information, tips, and techniques, but personal experiences with a transformational God? Psalm 145 says it this way:
All your works praise you, Lord;
your faithful people extol you.
They tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might,
so that all people may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom
“Experiences with” (personal story and anecdote) will always trump “knowledge of” (facts and bullet points). In the information age where you can find something written to substantiate even the most outlandish of ideas and opinions, the only incontrovertible reality is personal experience. Every company says they are the best and everyone believes their belief system is right, but personal stories of transformation are irrefutable.
If you want to know the reality of a company, listen to the employees and the clients. If you want to know the reality of my faith, look at my wife, my children, and the story being written with my life. For the first few decades it was a “snoozer,” but we have been told by others that it is becoming a real “page turner”.
How much of your faith is based on “knowledge of” verses “experiences with?”
What story are you telling with your life or the groups of people you lead?
Is your life (or the organization you lead) telling the kind of story that would prompt anyone to change their life and follow?