I’ve been known to write my share of story songs and I’ve been fortunate enough to have found success with one or two. I guess you could say I can spin a good yarn, but I’d always thought of myself as a communicator of truth. My good friend, hit songwriter and musical team building facilitator Tony Haselden likes to say from the stage that, “We lie for a living”. The first time I heard Tony announce that publicly I thought, speak for yourself Tony, I’m not a liar. But upon reflection I’ve realized that I do stretch, alter, bend and forget the truth to make my point. When I write a song it may be loosely based on a ‘true story’ but by the time I’m done the characters and events always take on a life of their own, one that I have to follow, sometimes to my own surprise. And the final result is often not too much like what really happened.
So if I’m a fiction writer, how come I’ve always thought myself to be a purveyor of truth? That’s because my preoccupation is with emotional truth, with message and meaning. I guess you could say I traffic in metaphor, to communicate underlying truths, often at the expense of facts.
Is this okay? I think it’s great. While leading a team building through song session last week, I asked my group what they cared about and what they thought their company’s message and mission was. This elicited different responses than the simple question of ‘what do you do’. Doing is easier to describe than mission and message.
As our song evolved, several people kept commenting that we weren’t being perfectly accurate. One person said, “that’s not really what we do, but it’s what we’d like to do.” Light bulb moment there for me, and for the rest of the group. This group had suddenly moved forward from being where they were to discussing where they wanted to go. From status quo to planning, based on goals and aspirations. Wow – that’s powerful stuff. And in the context of music, rhyme, movement and laughter (all happening at once), this discussion of now versus future didn’t seem overwhelming. The team songwriting gave this group confidence, and an almost naive sense that they could move forward easily.
We had created their corporate metaphor, the greater truth of who they were and what they believed in. Yes – at the expense of some pesky little facts!
Tell Me What You Think About This
- Do you think the story I told above about my recent team song session is true? Does it matter?
- Do you stay strictly with facts or do you like to spin a yarn to make a point?
- If you share your thoughts in the comment area below, I’ll let you know about the veracity of the story in this blog!