Imagine being a world renown singer-songwriter who has penned more award winning lyrics than you had ever dreamed possible. What would happen if one day the songs just dried up. The words stopped coming and what would follow is years of writers block? What would you do? For music legend Sting that was his living reality and when the words stopped coming Sting knew he needed reclaim his missing muse, he just didn’t expect it to be from the place he escaped.
Sting’s Ted talk was different to most Ted talks I have watched and I am not referring to the several times he broke out in song with his guitar, although as a Sting fan that was definitely a bonus for me. What really made Sting’s Ted talk stand out was the way it appeared that he was just simply telling a story between friends – captivating, engaging and honest. His story took us on a journey through his humble beginnings as a boy living near “a shadow of a shipyard” to present day on the other side of a prolonged episode of writers block.
Sting’s story starts out in a small town on the northeast coast of England where jobs at the shipyard was the norm and expectation. A noble job, but not to an eight year old who was bequeathed a rusty, but much loved guitar. An eight year old boy who dreamt of jumping on one those ships and leaving this industrial town behind.
When his songwriting started to dry up, Sting began to wonder if his writers block was more psychologic. Perhaps he had given away too much of his privacy and inner thoughts that there was a barrier up that wasn’t all allowing anymore to get through. Then in a changing moment it came to him, could it be possible that his best work was actually derived from telling other people’s stories? By stepping into their shoes and seeing the world through their eyes? Sting went back home to that industrial town he so desperately wanted to escape from as a child and found his muse in the characters that made up his hometown and told their stories.
So what did I learn from this Ted talk
The absolute core message I took away from this Ted talk was the importance of storytelling. Whether we are telling our own stories or giving someone else a voice by telling theirs, storytelling is what connects us -it’s the human touch. It’s also the easiest and most genuine way to get a message across.
Storytelling belongs in the business world just as much as it belongs in our personal lives. I tend to gravitate towards businesses that have a backstory behind it, a heart, a pulse, a business that is more than bricks and mortar or a computer screen, a business that has a story to share with me.On the other end of the cash register, as business owners we also need to wonder ‘what’s our customer’s story?” Knowing this will help us to serve them better and may just convert them to a loyal customer for life.
On a personal note In my personal life I am going to slow down and take a moment to find out what all the stories are around me and I am going to start with you. What’s your story? I would love for your to share them in the comments below.
Before you leave this page you have to check out Sting’s acoustic version of Message in a Bottle. Stripped of backing singers and a band it just Sting, an acoustic guitar and vocals telling a story through song.