A Journey Into The Power of Storytelling with Mary Alice Arthur


Storytelling has captivated humanity since the beginning of time. It has the unique ability to transport us to different worlds, evoke emotions, and convey powerful messages. But storytelling is not just about entertaining and fascinating us; it is also about listening. By truly engaging with a story, we can gain deeper insights into ourselves and others, foster empathy, and broaden our perspectives.

Mary Alice Arthur is a Story Activist working with story in service of positive systemic shift and for focusing collective intelligence on critical issues. She guides people to find and activate the story that will take them into a larger and more authentic future. With story as an ally, people become the visionary leaders, changemakers and paradigm shifters they want to be. They know the story is their lens on the world and determines their agency. They have the knowledge and tools to change it for the better.

She is an internationally recognised process host, building capacity for people to bring their stories to life, and in practice for more than 25 years. She is inspired to work with large and small systemic stories holding keys for a more generative future. She is a steward of Art of Hosting, teaching participatory practice around the world, and co-creator of Collective Story Harvest methodology.

Mary Alice is the author of 365 ALIVE! Find your voice. Claim your story. Live your brilliant life. and hosts THE STORY DOJO, an online community focused on the power and practice of story. She works with individuals, communities and organizations around the world.

In this episode, my conversation with Mary Alice explores the how the superpowers of storytelling and listening are like the yin and yang. She shares stories that take us on a journey from being hired for jobs to shifting organizational culture and engaging employees in change projects.

“If you want to be a good storyteller, you have to be a good listener.” – Mary Alice Arthur 

Listening SUPERPOWER Notes:

00:24 – Sharing a moment in time when she becomes aware of the power of listening

02:52 – How curiosity allowed a listening experience to happen: This kind of curiosity feeds an inquiry about what’s really going on or what really matters.

04:00 – Becoming a witness [withness] in a listening experience: I am inviting you to be with the storyteller, to be in service to the person who is speaking

05:59 – Understanding the power of withness: You can make somebody stronger or weaker in the power of your intention to them.

10:00 – What it means to be awake in an interaction between storyteller and listener: We create stories so that we could survive and we could thrive.

13:47 – The three waves of influence with which leaders use storytelling as a tool

19:00 – How to make people share their story and vulnerability: Somebody has to go first and it’s a nice step for a leader to go first.

24:17 – A story that demonstrates the power of listening

27:34 – Re-energizing an organizational structure: Our listening and our storying can reawaken why we decided to say yes to the purpose that we’re doing together.

31:41 – What you can get out of listening to one’s self: If I really want to show up with my highest potential, I also need to listen to myself.

33:42 – Listening as love in action: You’re important enough that I’m going to give you my full attention now.

35:31 – Sharing her experience of being listened to and seeing love in action

38:12 – How can I listen louder?

Key Takeaways:

“The business of stories is to be awake. And that can only happen with the power of good listening.” – Mary Alice Arthur 

The quality of the people in the audience is determining how they show up, not the other way around. It’s interesting to realize the power you have as a listener, and to know that it’s intrinsic to the communication, the interaction you’re having.”– Mary Alice Arthur 

“The thing…about vulnerability is, uncomfortable does not mean unsafe. Sometimes getting on the edge of your comfort zone is exactly where you need to be.”– Mary Alice Arthur 

“We have a challenge, when we’re leaders or when we’re facilitators or when we’re anybody who’s in charge of something and in front of something, oftentimes we are never in it; listening asks us to be in it with somebody.”– Mary Alice Arthur 

“At the bottom of it all, listening is love in action. And if you intend it to be like that, people will feel that and more will come out of it.”– Mary Alice Arthur 


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