Finding Your Story

-A Storyteller's Approach to Debriefing-

During the past two weeks we have been training this season's staff of facilitators for the challenge course. Part of this training includes open space sessions, which are open forums where facilitators share their concerns about potential struggles they may face with a group on the course. We then address these struggles with on-the-spot training so the facilitators will be well-prepared for the course. One of the concerns mentioned was how to get the most out of debriefing. One facilitator said, "Well, I ask all of the right questions, but all I get is the silent treatment."

Debriefing can be hard at times. We can deliver information that is right in line with the group's goals and make connections between challenges and how this applies to everyday life, yet it often seems like we get no feedback from our groups.

Well I am about to let you in on a little secret... it's not what we say but how we say it! Big surprise, right? If we want the content of what we are saying to be heard and understood, we have to deliver it through a process that matches the perceptions of the individual.

So, this means we must adapt the message so it meets the motivation needs of the group. There are six different motivational needs we target at Team Quest, and they are based on the Process Communication Model. (You can learn more about PCM on the services page of our website).

One of the best delivery methods I have found is to allow storytelling to play a role in the debriefing. This approach shows the group that I am open to share my own experiences, drawing a connection between the challenge and everyday life. The use of shared experiences creates a doorway for relatedness and builds trust through empathic connections. Combined with PCM, a story can be scripted to hit all six motivational needs. This allows the information you are sharing to be heard and understood. Adjusting your delivery process allows your content to become performance or helps implement a new skill.

Sharing a memoir of self-discovery is one way to enhance debriefings. You can also captivate your audience with related fiction or nonfiction. How you deliver the message is key to ensuring your group makes a connection between the challenge and the debriefing goals.

One of my favorite stories is about Michelangelo, the artist not the Ninja Turtle. One of Michelangelo's greatest accomplishments was the Sistine Chapel. Little do people know that he never liked painting or even considered himself a painter. Stone was his art form, he was a sculptor! He was known for boasting that God gifted him with the ability of a master sculptor. One day he made this claim in front of another well-known sculptor and Michelangelo added that there was no stone he could not carve. The other sculptor replied, "Well then, I have a challenge for you. You say you can carve any stone, I have a stone that is failed. I will give you this stone. If you are so great, let's see you carve a masterpiece out of this."

Michelangelo very modestly accepted his challenge and a few weeks later he asked the other sculptor to come see the work in progress. They walked into a studio to see a 17-foot-tall stone covered with a sheet. Michelangelo then pulled the sheet to reveal his masterpiece: the statue of David. The other sculptor was taken aback. He turned to Michelangelo and asked, "How?" Michelangelo replied, "Every stone is a masterpiece, you just have to chip away the bad pieces to reveal the greatness within."

I love that response. It applies to the challenges we face on the ropes course and it makes for a great metaphor. With every new experience, we discover something about ourselves and others. Additionally, these experiences change us in some way. They give us the opportunity to learn that we are capable of so much more than we thought. Like Michelangelo's quote, every experience allows us to chip away fear or doubts that were holding us back. When we do this, we reveal more of the masterpiece within.

We are all continuous works of art striving for greatness.

Jason Colvin, Director of Team Quest

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