Recently, we attended a country festival. It was a perfectly still, sunny day. We sat in the cool shade of an enormous oak tree, listened to some excellent folk music, and watched the local folk buzz with excitement as they worked and celebrated their district’s biggest day of the year.
The festival showcased the pride of local wineries, cheese makers, olive and honey farmers. The careful work of the regional crafters glowed in their stalls.
We tasted some delicious wine including a spectacular sparkling Shiraz and a buttery Chardonnay, while listening to the wine maker’s stories.
Life on the land
As city folk, we’re intrigued by the serendipity of life on the land – the vagaries of the weather, willy willies tearing up newly laid bird netting, the perversity of cockatoos who’ll strip a vineyard of its grapes for the hell of it, and not eat a single grape.
Later I amused myself drawing analogies between these tales and running a business. I’ve experienced a few willy willy and cockatoo-like clients over the decades.
Where were the stories?
At the appointed time, a regional dignitary came to the stage to open the festival and thank everyone involved.
There was no doubting her pride in, and enthusiasm for the event. But still the words rolled on – the hard work, the unification of the community, the importance of the day to the town and the region . . . until my attention wandered. Attention is after all, a scarce commodity in our brains today.
Hard work is hard work. We all do hard work. In that hard work would have been dozens of personal stories, about the people who had ideas and implemented them, hardship and hurdles overcome, arguments patched up, real collaboration, even life changes.
We all belong to communities, but what was it about this festival day that really bound the locals together? What were the stories that spoke of their humanity, courage, adversity and joy?
It’s in telling these tales that she and others had the opportunity to stamp and solidify the energy of the day into the identity of the region, in both the local, and the visitors’ minds.
We recall character-driven stories invested in emotion months even years later. There was no reason for anyone to remember what was said beyond the moment. We don’t want to hear, nor do we remember political platitudes.
How many million such speeches stifle us everyday. How many speakers miss the opportunity to tell the stories that could impact on people’s attention, perception, and actions for years to come?