I listen intently, the phone hot against my cheekbone, as he revisits key details of his fascinating and nomadic life. Shawn is clearly a man who has lived and learned through some tribulations I have not. Beneath the fluidity of his words lies a calm confidence produced by years of fortifying fights and realized visions.
Growing up with traditional learning challenges, Shawn crashed against the limiting and stigmatizing mold of mainstream education. He was a teenage father. He has travelled the world in search of opportunities. And he has spent years challenging the conventional thinking of a school system for which I, by mere chance, was fairly well suited. Seemingly, we come from different worlds. And yet I can sense a fundamental connection — something in his intention. His voice compels me to find it.
“We are all storytellers. The problem is, most of us aren’t very good at it. The school system encourages and rewards only one way of learning, and it prepares us for a workplace devoid of individuality and full of vacuous clichés. We have lost our way in the world. Stories bring the human being back into focus and help us remember what is important. By expressing our true selves, we connect with others and inspire each other to act toward unifying goals — whether team building, convincing your kids cooperate, wooing a date, or building a more respectful and responsible society. But there is a structure to consistently good and persuasive storytelling.”