Every Life Has a Story If We Bother to Read It

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

60 Minutes is the greatest show on television.
No, I am not 54 years old nor do I go to bed before 6pm, I am a sucker for a good story.

60 Minutes has a way of capturing a story and telling it unlike any other program (okay I just called a television show a program, maybe I am 54 years old) out there. Therefore, they tell the best stories and grab my attention every Sunday night.

This video doesn’t just capture the power of a story but it challenges the reader (or viewer).

There are so many stories floating around. From the guy that you get your coffee from each morning, to the lady standing behind the cash register at Krogers, everyone has a story. I do not know if it is possible to capture everyones story, but I sure will try. I love to hear a new story each day. Maybe that is why I love going to Starbucks every morning, it provides me a chance to hear someones story.

Have you ever asked a complete stranger their story?

I try to make a habit of this.

Struggling to see how to do this? Here are a couple things that work for me when wanting to hear someone else’s story.

  • Notice something about them:
    Its amazing how making a comment about a book someone is reading, a t-shirt they are wearing or the type of drink they order will open up an hour long conversation. For me, the best way to get to hear someone’s story is to take notice of the story they are broadcasting. And by broadcasting I mean what they are telling you they are into. IE…books, t-shirts, coffee. By seeing what they are sharing on the outside will allow you to get to hear their story they have inside.
  • Tell them a story:
    Maybe not your story, but a story of someone else that has inspired you. Sometimes people are reluctant to share what they do, who they are, and how they have gotten to where they are today, but if you open up and allow them to hear the inspirational story of someone else they usually seem to open up to share about their life.
  • Ask good questions:
    One of the big keys in hearing other peoples story is asking questions that lead to story answers. Finding ways to pull out information about what they do, how they got where they are today, and what they are interested in is a great way to help people tell their story.

These are just a couple of things that I like to do when wanting to hear someone else’s story.

Anything you would add to this list? Heard any good stories lately? Have you shared your story lately? How have you read other peoples stories?


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Kyle Reed

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I create websites, conversations, and ideas. Advocate for the 20 somethings. Looking to connect everyone to a mentor. Married to my best friend, Ginny. I like my coffee black and my dog Jack. I currently live in Nashville and work at Sony Music/Provident in Nashville
  • http://gothreestory.com Brian Notess

    I remember seeing that video a few months ago and thought it was awesome.

    I’m a HUGE believer in stories, they can be a powerful force for communicating a message or value.

    The only thing I might add would be “listen” although that’s included in “ask good questions”.

    A lot of time I find myself bogged down in small talk, or talking too much. Many times if we just listen, people will tell us their stories.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      that probably is the biggest thing right there, listening.
      It seems like one of the easiest things to do and yet is the hardest to just sit and listen

  • mo

    This is really good man!

    One thing I picked up somewhere was to look into people’s eyes long enough to tell their eye color, while talking to them. It’s a lot longer than some people are used to, but can help establish trust.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      yes, I always try to make really good eye contact. You are exactly right, very important.

  • http://www.Audrakrell.com Audra Krell

    Love stories. They connect and validate us. Your suggestions for finding out stories are great. The longing of all our hearts is to be known and accepted for who we are. Actively listening to others is life changing for everyone in involved.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      great thoughts. We do long to be known and heard, at least I know I do.
      Listening is so huge

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

    I love this. I used to do it a lot more when I first moved to Nashville. I once asked a guy who puts away the carts at Wal-Mart his story. I was amazed by what he told me (you can read about it here: http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org/?filename=everyday-heroes-interview-with-george).

    What I love about this practice is how we unfortunately assume that we know someone’s story because of their circumstances. Making a habit of asking them to share their story is humbling and a great way to tear defeat prejudices. (e.g. “This man is homeless, because he is a drunk.”)

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      thanks for the link, definitely going to read that story. And you are right, we tend to make quick judgements about people before we ever hear their actual stories.

  • http://www.jcwert.com Jason

    Asking good questions is a key. When I was in radio I had a guy break down my interviewing style and point out the importance of just asking questions but questions that lead to the information people really wanted to hear.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      exactly, way beyond yes no questions

  • http://shelbyisrad.wordpress.com Shelby

    I love stories, and I agree with the commenters about listening and eye contact.
    I used to struggle with eye contact because i didn’t trust people but I started to force myself to start making eye contact with others and its always interesting.
    I’ve never asked a complete stranger their story… I really want to… Maybe I will try sometime.
    I’ve told my story to complete strangers before, scary but healing.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      you should definitely try it. I find that especially now, around christmas, people are open to talk about their story. You should try and do it before 2010 ends. You can do it.

  • http://www.cartoonrebellion.net Jenny

    I think this is so important. As an airline captain’s daughter i traveled a lot growing up, and often (even at a very young age) sat next to total strangers and asking my seat mates stories quickly became my favorite part of travel, sometimes even better then the destination itself. The three tips you have mentioned are very important, I also think being vulnerable and authentic is also key. When we open ourselves up in a way where the storyteller is not afraid of being judged then we get to hear a good story. I’ve met all sorts of people in my life traveling, and when i started to use the same principals to find out people’s stories in my day to day life it’s opened great doors in ministry, and honestly if it weren’t for sparking up a conversation in a line at subway with a lady i wouldn’t be serving with the ministry im currently serving with. Story telling builds community. It gives us a chance as christ followers to share about our faith and foundation in Jesus, and it refines us as people.

    And if i were to tell some of the stories i’ve heard…. you wouldn’t believe me. :)

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      love that, you never know who you are going to meet and what will come of it one day. pretty cool

  • http://marshallheppner.com Marshall

    Man, so true, it was hard leaving full time ministry a year ago and re-entering the world with different eyes. God literally pulled me from the ministry to minister to these people. I constantly pray for a hightened sense of awarness. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear the hearts of those around.

    Also that vid is pretty gnarly.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      that is a great prayer. My prayer as well.
      Awesome when you are able to see others the way God sees them.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dustinuga Dustin

    Watching a video like that was challenging… in a good way. So often I’ll go through life and check off my to-do list and not have a second thought about the people around me. This challenges me to just stop, inquire, and listen.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      exactly, easy to get caught up in our story and forget about others story.
      I need the reminder daily.