Monday, June 22, 2009
Make the Impossible Possible, by Bill Strickland
"We all have stories to tell. In fact, we can't avoid telling them. We tell them every time we interact with another person, form a friendship, interview for a job, fall in love, ask for help, or share a dream. What my experiences prove to me is that the more clearly and convincingly you are able to tell your story, the better your chance of attracting the people who can best help you move your story forward, and in whose own stories you can play a productive part."
That's Bill Strickland talking on page 213 of his book, Make the Impossible Possible. Strickland is founder and CEO of Manchester Bidwell and other organizations that work together to offer children and adults in difficult circumstances a path toward a better life. His organizations nourish both the body and the soul by giving people a taste of what the good life looks like, and then teaching them the skills they need to go out and get it.
Strickland believes that every person has something to offer. He doesn't condescend; he uplifts. He refuses to meet poverty at its own level; his organizations are not housed in cruddy, falling down buildings - they don't blend in with the neighborhoods he serves. Instead, he meets poverty with hope, plunking down beautiful, architect-designed works of art in the middle of disadvantaged cities, as beacons - or examples of what his clients may someday produce themselves.
As he worked to put his dreams into motion, Strickland found that if he just told his story - that if he told it over and over again - people showed up in his life just when he needed them. His partners made his projects possible; they made them bigger than anything he could have done on his own.
Strickland's ideas resonate with me because I feel the way about disadvantaged manuscripts that he feels about disadvantaged people; they may be in rough shape at the moment, but that's no indication of the beauty or purpose that is hiding inside.
Tell your story, Strickland admonishes us; tell it often. Sooner or later you'll meet the people who can help you to tell it right. He's speaking metaphorically, but I'm speaking literally. Every writer needs help. None of us can do it without critique partners, cheerleading friends, supportive spouses and decent editors. It's not a sign of weakness to ask for others to help you on your way; it's a sign of strength.
Dream big, Strickland says. And if your dream is denied, then don't give up; go back and make that dream bigger.