The Storyteller’s Compass

I’m amazed the power of pictures and how these can connect to the ongoing development of our leadership life stories. In a world where everyone is taking pictures for social media, I was reminded about the power of picture with one of the first images ever taken.

I’m currently at work taking these short posts and compiling the thoughts into a book that helps leaders DISCOVER, DEVELOP, and DELIVER their leadership life stories. The thoughts here on the website come from a variety of situations and experiences in life. This article is an update from my LinkedIn profile from 2021.

After a busy academic year, I had the opportunity to travel to Charleston, South Carolina in May 2021 to explore this new-to-me city. One of the days was spent at the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. During our time there I was stuck by a simple picture of a Pastor and his grand-daughter.

The Magnolia Plantation goes all the way back to the King of England gifting the Drayton family the land in 1676. There were some battles during the Revolutionary war (1760’s) and skirmishes during the Civil War (1860’s). The Gardens “officially” opened in the 1870’s and are the oldest public gardens in the United States. We had a wonderful few hours touring and learning about the good and not-so-good history of this place.

What struck me though was a simple picture located back on the natural trails along the Ashley River. The picture shows the Reverend John Grimke Drayton with his granddaughter. This picture was taken in the 1850’s by Matthew Brady and is one of the earliest known photos in the country.

I’m struck by two ideas that connect to Leadership Life-stories: #1 – pictures show what is important to us and #2- pictures provide a window to our soul.

Pictures are Important to US

A quick Google search suggests that over 1.5 trillion pictures are taken by the World’s 8 billion people. Each person takes 10-12 pictures a day. We take pictures because we want to remember the important moments of our lives. My mobile phone is filled with quick shots and situations that I enjoy. We hope to remember the day on vacation, get-together with friends, a busy city street, or the moment of quiet on a hike.

These pictures can be a starting point for us to remember the moment of our leadership life story and consider WHY these moments mean something.

Currently, I’m cleaning out duplicates and weird looking photos in the folders and making decisions about pictures that are important to me.

Yesterday, Dawnette and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary. The picture of our wedding day is very important to me because of the joy in the moment along Lake Michigan. It is also very important as a moment of redemption that points back to the saving work of Jesus Christ in my life both spiritually and intimacy. This picture and the connection to leadership from the continues to develop in my 2024 leadership life story.

Pictures Provide a Window to our Soul

Let’s go back to the picture of Reverend Drayton with his granddaughter. I like that this was a consistent and routine time for them. We hear in the stories of the plantation that Drayton often came to this place to reflect, plan his days, and his Sunday sermons. My imagination sees a smile on his face as she twirls around the path, investigates the flowers and insects. The heavy, humid air breezes through the rice fields and reeds. The Pastor often sat in this secluded place to listen to the Word of God, plan his sermons, and enjoy time with his granddaughter. This is just a small look into the window of his soul. We can learn from him through this image.

Leadership Life Stories: Your Pictures

I would like to finish up by challenging you to think about your leadership life stories and consider the pictures in your life. Take out your phone can begin scrolling. What pictures do you have saved? Why are these important to you? How do these provide a jumping off point as you take steps with your leadership life-story?

Feel free to reach out or comment. Looking forward to the continued conversations moving forward.

Let's Connect

One of my strongest passions is connecting with others and hearing their stories. Even if we never work together, I’d still love to meet you, learn more about you, and hear some of your unique experiences.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you, future friend. 

Chris Hamstra

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