Archive for the ‘Story-telling in organisations’ Category

Once upon a time, in Ancient Phrygia there was a king. His name was Midas and even today few people have not heard of him. Now Midas’s joy in life rested on the amassing of wealth – in particular, the collection of gold. And this was – almost – his un-doing.

One day, when he was pruning the beautiful roses in his world-renowned garden, he was thinking about his money – and how to make more. Brooding over this, he was totally unaware of the sixty lovely blooms that each rose bush offered but, all at once, he caught sight of an old man asleep under a tree. The old man’s name was Silenus and he had come from the court of the god of wine and ritual madness, Dionysus.

‘Could there be a profit in this?’ Midas wondered and instantly thought of a cunning plan.

For the next ten days, he treated Silenus like a king. Then he took him back to Dionysus, knowing how grateful Dionysus would be for the care lavished on his old servant.

‘Midas, I will grant you any wish!’ said the god – who had his own cunning plan.

‘Lord, may anything I touch be turned to gold?’ came Midas’s immediate reply.

‘Such greed could be dangerous,’ warned Dionysus, but, true to his word, he granted the wish.

With delight, Midas touched a tree and it turned to gold. With growing excitement, he touched the walls of his palace and they turned to gold. But then, he touched his horse, then his servant, then his food and finally his much-loved daughter. And all turned to cold, hard, gold.

Midas began to starve. His cold bed was hard and he could not sleep. But most of all, he missed his daughter. He missed her love and he missed her chatter and he missed the way she put her arms around him and hugged him. At last – in extreme suffering and running mad with loneliness – Midas went back to Dionysus.

‘Please, lord, un-grant my wish!’ he pleaded.

Dionysus laughed but decided to take pity on the wretch before him.

‘Go and bathe in the river Pactolus,’ he advised.

King Midas went to the river. But he had now learned caution. ‘What if – when I get into the water, it turns to gold. – it kills me?’ he thought

So, he devised another cunning plan.

First of all, he filled a small jug and washed one small part of himself that he could do without – the tiniest patch on the very tip of his beard. At once, the gold washed away into the River Pactolus – which even to this day is renowned for its golden sands.

But, when King Midas saw this, he was so relieved. And then he carried jug after jug of river water back to his palace. He washed his daughter, his servants, his horse and the whole palace. He did not stop work until everything and everyone was back to normal. And everyone could live happily ever after.

The god, Dionysus, smiled.

Making a story relevant for a group of potential leaders

Here are some questions for discussion in pairs/triads and whole groups (in the same or from different organisations)

Empowerment of the individual

  1. What is the moral of the story?
  2. Can you relate the moral of the story to your own life?
  3. What is your ‘gold’? Can you see the danger and can you see the attraction of it?
  4. Can you think of an incident in your own life illustrating the moral of the Midas Story?
  5. Would you like to change the ending of the Midas story or your own story? Re-write.

The Leadership Skill of Empathy building  

  1. Can you imagine situations from another person’s point of view? An example of this is a poem by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy entitled Mrs Midas
  2. Whose viewpoint is most important in the story of Midas?
  3. Could you tell the story from another character’s point of view?
  4. Rewrite either ‘Midas’ or your own story from someone else’s point of view.
  5. How do you feel when you think about someone else’s point of view?
  6. How could this skill of imagining how others think and feel be useful for you in your work?


 Lizzie Gates, Lonely Furrow Company, 2012


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For those who – possibly reluctantly – have to write or speak as part of their work, in Autumn and Winter 2011, Lonely Furrow Company will offer a rolling Continuing Professional Development programme. These will concentrate on special skills required in communication at work – such as story-telling techniques, interview skills, written communication styles and many more.

Lonely Furrow Company Events 

Current Listings:

(All events will take place at The Conservatory, 28 Park West, Heswall, Wirral CH60 9JF unless otherwise stated.)

October 26th 2011 (1pm – 3.30pm) Written Communication Styles  A CPD/Media Coaching workshop (£25)

November 23rd 2011 (1pm – 3.30pm) Body Language – showing not telling  A CPD/Media Coaching workshop (£25)

November 30th 2011 (1pm – 3.30pm) Organisational Story-telling Techniques A CPD workshop (£25)

December 7th 2011 (1pm – 3.30pm) Written Business Commmunications – emails, letters, press releases, articles. A CPD/Media Coaching Workshop (£25)

January 18th 2012 (1pm-3.30pm) Interview Skills A CPD/media coaching workshop. (£25)

Just contact me if you have further questions.

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Here are some references for my presentation at the Gurteen Knowledge Cafe, Liverpool, UK


1865 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll (Alice meets the Cheshire Cat)

2005 Cinderella to CEO: How to Master the 10 Lessons of Fairy Tales to Transform Your Work Life – by Cary J. Broussard and Anita Bell

1994 Politically Correct Bed-time Stories James Finn Garner. Macmillan, New York. Cinderella goes to the Ball.

The Ship of Fools, The Republic, Plato Book 6.

Background Reading

2008 Effective Organisational Communication (3rd Edition) Richard Blundell and Kate Ippolito Prentice Hall pg 79 – 83  Includes references for practical applications of storytelling in knowledge creation and other areas of communication.

2006 The Story Factor Annette Simmons Basic Books

2007 Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins Annette Simmons. AMACOM

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