When Parents Lead, Children Succeed

Tell Your Story, Create Your Life and Your Community

Tell Your Story, Create Your Life and Your Community

Hosted By:
Elane V. Scott
Featured Guest:
Michael Benner

“How can I mirror back to people that the stories they tell themselves and seek out are what will feed their souls and help them grow, or, cause them to lie fallow and never achieve what they are capable of?”

Dear Valued Stakeholders,

It’s a Birth2Work precept that great leaders are also great speakers and storytellers. And because we are committed to sharing stories with you about people we believe encompass the best qualities and characteristics of a stakeholder leader, we have committed this series of shows to the art and science of story telling in today’s world.

In our first two weeks of this series, our Birth2Work Radio guests were encouraged to dig deeply into how they approached storytelling in different media. Brian Dyak (4/13/09) of the Entertainment Industries Council, discussed how he helped develop a way to help writers and Hollywood producers deliver accurate ideas and messages about mental and social problems while still delivering a good story for television and movie going audiences. Vicki Haugen and Kim Kuchenbroad, (4/06/09) of Vermilion County, Illinois talked about how they have helped guide a whole county of people toward giving voice to a new vision for their future and, gradually, build a wealth of new stories to spread their message. Both programs dealt with external motivations and drives for mastering the science of telling a great story.

This week we sharpen the focus on the importance of the individual as storyteller of his or her own life. We are pleased to present a veteran radio news and talk show host himself, Michael Benner. Since starting in broadcast in 1977, Michael felt a strong connection with his listeners and gradually found himself more interested in how stories were having an affect on the people who heard them, than simply delivering them. How do stories we hear shape our thinking? How can we learn to tell our own stories and be responsible for our own thinking instead of relying on an authoritative source? This week we will hold a mirror up to ourselves and invite Michael to talk about what he did to change his own life as he worked to address those questions.

Michael is a very old colleague of mine. Years ago, as I was beginning my work in parent and family education, he welcomed me as a guest on his late night radio program. I never forgot that interview because he was so much more interested in my unscripted thoughts and true feelings about parent education than the pat answers to questions that had been asked a thousand times. He seemed to be in tune with his audience on a deeper level than anyone I had been interviewed by in the past.

As a second phase to his early, highly successful radio career, he began his own company called Personal Development Strategies. Today, Michael successfully provides consulting and training to individuals, couples, and businesses that includes modules on stress and anger management, conflict resolution and sensitivity, motivation, goal-setting, problem-solving, accelerated learning, leadership, teamwork, and character-building. He helps his clients reflect on the person/couple/company they really want to become. Fundamental to his thinking, like ours at Birth2Work, is that learning, growth, and personal development are not activities done in a formal forum or classroom alone. Through learning skills and brain development techniques, he shows that individual growth is about enriching the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual capabilities of each person.

The root of what he’s talking about with everyone, including on today’s program, is the necessity of developing our own ideas…that is, knowing ourselves…in order to write our own stories. He is as concerned with people learning to produce media and stories, as he is with their ability to be competent and thoughtful consumers of stories, whether from friends they keep or media they look at. A B2W Stakeholder leader thinks this way. How can I mirror back to people that the stories they tell themselves and seek out are what will feed their souls and help them grow or cause them to lie fallow and never achieve what they are capable of?

In as much as we are able to refine who we are as individuals, we then have a greater capacity to be voracious learners of the world through multiple kinds of media available today. The days of seeking out a single trusted source of news are gone. Unlike any other time in history, there are literally thousands of sources for information on the internet, dozens on TV, and, though shrinking, still numbers of sources from print media (newspapers & magazines). We must, as Michael says, become “data miners.” We have the opportunity to take responsibility for our individual growth, which enriches our families and, in turn, our communities are the able to create their own futures independent of global opinion. For me, Michael Benner is a spiritual maverick and a great leader whose wish for each of us is to discover our personal worth and value to the communities we live in and keep it alive by the stories we tell throughout our lives.

Elane V. Scott