Telling Stories


I’m not a rugby fan. I don’t know the difference between rugby union and rugby league or any other kinds of rugby that may exist. I grew up in Perth, Western Australia, so it’s always been about Australian Rules Football (AFL) for me.

The annual NRL Grand Final, the ultimate game for Rugby League teams and fans, has passed by without a glimmer of interest from me year upon year. I don’t really even know how many teams play in the league or where they’re from.

Yesterday’s Grand Final would have passed almost unnoticed yet again if it wasn’t for the fact that the South Sydney Rabbitohs were playing. The team, which my research tells me was established in 1908, has been missing in action from grand finals since last winning in 1971. After being a real power team for many decades they went through tough financial times and were even booted out of the league for a few years.

I didn’t watch the game, mainly because I wouldn’t have known what was going on, but I sure wanted to know the result and was hoping that the Rabbitohs would take the win. Thankfully the story had a fairy tale ending and they broke their 43 year premiership drought.

We love a good story and a sporting team overcoming the obstacles and rising from the ashes is certainly captivating. The story of the Rabbitohs was fascinating enough to have me interested in the result of a Rugby League game. That’s no small effort. I’d be surprised if we didn’t see a film about their battle produced in the coming years.

The Power of Story

We can often forget just how important it is to tell great stories. You can argue opinions all day but a good story can cut through and engage us with a topic like nothing else can.

Movie makers around the world put millions of dollars into telling stories and many times their investment is handsomely rewarded. Why? Because it’s all about a great story well told. Whatever the genre, whether they’re using expensive special effects or not, if they get the story telling right they’re half way to creating a hit.

Why don’t we use story more often? Story telling isn’t just for sporting teams, books or movies. Every day we have opportunity to engage others in stories. And storytelling isn’t just about creating works of fiction. Telling true stories is incredibly powerful.

When I represent Compassion at churches or other gatherings I tell stories. True stories. Wonderful stories of lives changed. I have hundreds of facts and figures about poverty at my fingertips, and I do refer to some of them, but it’s the life stories that can engage and inform. When I recount meeting Melissa, Ada, Emmanuel, Erlan, Christine or some of the many others who have been released from poverty, the whole idea of what we do becomes real.

Storytelling isn’t about being manipulative or embellishing the facts. Done well, storytelling is about making a connection and opening the way for a better understanding. Storytelling allows others to step into a different journey, into someone else’s shoes, even if only for a moment. It allows them to wonder how they would feel or act in similar circumstances. It helps other identify with different people and experiences.

I’m wondering where you’ve seen the power of a story. Has someone else’s story changed you? Has a good story, well told, prompted you to action? Where else do you think we should be using stories to inform and engage others?

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Wiggles Bite Down on Suarez


I get the feeling that a certain incident at the World Cup will keep coming back to bite Luis Suarez.

Looks like the Wiggles think so too. Check out their very funny video.

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The Pitch


If you’ve ever watch Gruen Planet on ABC Television you will have seen the segment titled, The Pitch.

The Pitch is a challenge between two advertising agencies who are asked to sell the unsellable.

Yesterday morning as part of Grand Final Live, a one hour combined broadcast of my morning radio program at 98five and Clayton Bjelan’s program at 89.9 LightFM, we ran our own version of the pitch. Clayton had to sell the benefits of Melbourne to our Western Australian listeners and I had to sell Fremantle to those listening in Melbourne.

Click on the play button on the audio player below to hear what happened.

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Grand Final Live


I’m pretty excited about broadcasting into Melbourne tomorrow morning.

From 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Perth time, which will be 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in Melbourne, 98five will be teaming up with 89.9 Light FM for a combined broadcast which we’re calling Grand Final Live. Clayton Bjelan and I will be co-hosts for the hour.

With the Fremantle Dockers will be meeting the Hawks in Saturday’s AFL Grand Final. It’s the first ever Grand Final for Fremantle since joining the AFL in 1995.

Clayton’s a massive Hawks fan so we’ll be talking footy as well as comparing the cities of Fremantle and Melbourne. It promises to be a lot of fun so make sure you turn your radio on if you’re in Melbourne or Perth or listen online at either station’s website.

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Are you a spectator or a player?


It’s almost finals time in the AFL and for the next few weeks we’ll hear about football, football and more football.

It’s time for all the armchair critics to surface once again. Thousands of people who have watched endless games of footy on TV will come up with better game strategies than all the coaches and players.

Funny how we all suddenly become experts when we’re on the sidelines. It’s always easy to see how things can be done better and criticise those who are actually out there having a go. Why would we want to put ourselves on the line and actually do something when we find it so much easier to stay where we are and find fault?

Of course that kind of attitude isn’t just reserved for football or other sports. We see it happening in every area of life don’t we?

Those in public office need to be kept accountable but so often those trying to call our leaders to account have never bothered themselves with trying to do something to benefit the wider community themselves. With an Australian Federal Election just over a week away are we sitting on the sidelines shouting about what our politicians are doing wrong or are we working for a better, fairer country?

We like to criticise people in all kinds of leadership roles but we’re often less keen to take on the responsibilities that leaders accept. Whether it’s at work, politics, sporting clubs, churches or anywhere else, there are always those who will be prepared to give of their wisdom but not so many who will give of their time, resources and efforts.

Life isn’t a spectator sport. If you want to be one of the ones making the rules and deciding on directions, get onto the field and get involved. But beware, once you start playing you need to be ready to face the spectators who invariably think they know better.

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