An invitation to participate in a Connect Coalition is also a challenge. This duality is not unique to a Connect Coalition. Every invitation to participate in something you were not already participating in includes a requirement to change if you say yes and the potential that you may miss out on something worthwhile if you say no. There’s no way to guarantee that the change or what you may miss out on is good. The only guarantee with this particular invitation is that you belong. That is the invitation and the challenge - to belong. Your identity is needed. It is of critical value. Your own needs are important enough to be met by your community. And our interdependence constructs a shared identity and a mission that requires all of us to accomplish something important together.
The invitation you have received is to be a part of the living human system in your community in a more intentional way. You will give and receive more benefit if you seek out and deepen the relationships you have and the ones you find opportunity to enter into.
That’s why it’s called a Connect Coalition. The actual structure of the coalition is connected relationships. What holds us together is not money, not legal contracts, not hierarchical authority, not bureaucracy, not position. The elements of our organic human system are held together by the bonds of relationship. The stronger the relationships are the greater experience of well-being that will flow through them between individuals and into the life of our community. Most of us know instinctively that human isolation is detrimental to our health and relational connection is a boon.
The Four Elements of Story
The intentional action to take is storytelling in small groups. This effort makes a difference because when we share stories, the character we are in our stories is revealed. Our identity, value, and needs show up in the four elements that make up every story.
The Four Elements of Belonging
Belonging is fundamental for human well-being. It can be thought of as a kind of ownership as well as a sense that one is included and that inclusion is secure. The ideology of family is often used as a comparison. One belongs to a family regardless of belief or behavior. For our purposes, we measure the experience of belonging using four elements.
Our method for increasing the experience of belonging and thereby decreasing all that comes with social isolation (decreased mental, emotional, behavioral, and even physical health) is storytelling in small groups (2-12 people). The context is small so that all participants have an equitable opportunity to share. Each person both offers story into the shared narrative and benefits from the stories offered by their fellow storytellers. The purpose of this type of story sharing is to investigate, identify, and call forth the identity, value, and needs of each person and discover the mission of the group within their shared narrative.
Ten Questions for Sharing Five Minute Life Stories
(all at once or round-robin but only 5 minutes)
Seven Important Components of a Rich Storytelling Session
The Four Things You Discover In a Storytelling Session
The practical, measurable impact of a storytelling session shows up in several different ways. When you start a storytelling group, these are the things you’re looking for and working toward.
These are the basics of how storytelling works and why we should care. Right now, we’re considering the parts and pieces so we can see how a Connect Coalition fits together. Later, we’ll explore some of the more salient details and examples. The last thing I want to say is that in the hundreds of storytelling sessions I’ve participated in or facilitated, I’ve rarely come across a person who wasn’t surprised at how much it affected them. Humans need to live out our stories with other humans. It’s just how we are. Western culture does not foster this kind of exchange. A Connect Coalition is about making it normal.
See what happens if you get a few of your friends together and give it a try.
I write about belonging, storytelling, community building, prevention, trauma, resilience, neuroscience, and epigenetics.