How To Pull Others Into Your Stories and Boost In Bragging Rights
With a warm smile on his face an elderly gentleman came up to speak to me after hearing my keynote on Ways to Live a More Meaningful Life and asked if he could tell me about an experience he’d had the previous week that made him decide not to retire for awhile after all. He told me he’d been a professional Bagpipe player for over 30 years. He performs at gatherings as varied as weddings, concerts and resorts at sunset. What he then told me has stuck in my mind for over a decade and makes me feel good every time I share it with others, so I often do.
Hint: that’s a valuable trait to spur others to share your story.
Here’s what he told me: This winter a longtime friend of mine, a funeral director, asked me to play music at a graveside service for a homeless man. No friend or family members could be found. My choir member friend and a minister kindly offered to provide a simple service at a pauper's cemetery in rural Kentucky and asked their family members to come too. I agreed to play bagpipe music at the beginning and end of the service. Yet I was not familiar with the backwoods there. Driving out to the service I got lost and harried, looking for signs. Much to my chagrin I finally arrived an hour late. The minister had already left it and so had those who came to witness the burial service. Only two backhoe operators and the gravediggers remained. They were quietly eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to them for my tardiness.
Yet I was resolved to honor this man in his death, thinking of the many forgotten people like him who had no one to acknowledge their life at the end. I got out my bagpipe, walked to the side of the fresh grave and looked down. The vault lid was already in place. I paused, looked up at the sky, then held up my bagpipe and began to play. After a few minutes of playing I glanced over and noticed that the workers had put down their lunches and were listening. Suddenly I felt the numinosity of the moment, a connection with this man and all those who are alone in their passing, so I played with all my heart.
Two songs later I started Amazing Grace, letting myself scan the countryside. That’s when I saw the diggers were quietly weeping. Soon, so was I. When I finished, I quietly packed up my bagpipes and started walking back to my car, feeling much more at peace with the world. As I opened my car door, I heard one of the workers exclaim to his colleagues, "Sweet Mother of Jesus, I never seen nothin' like that before and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty-two years." I smiled back at them, leaving feeling gratified for my capacity to touch their hearts too.

Author's Bio: 

Kare Anderson is an Emmy-winning former NBC and Wall Street Journal reporter, now connective behavior and quotability speaker, author and columnist for Forbes.
Anderson’s TED talk on The Web of Humanity: Be an Opportunity Maker has attracted over 2.5 million views. Her clients are as diverse as Salesforce, Novartis, and The Skoll Foundation. She was a founding board member of Annie’s Homegrown, co-founder of nine political PACs, and author of Mutuality Matters, Moving From Me to We, Getting What You Want, and Resolving Conflict Sooner.
Anderson serves on the advisory boards of The Business Innovation Factory, Gloopt, TEDxMarin and World Affairs Council Marin.
As David Rockefeller Jr. said after hearing her speak, “Kare forever changes how you see yourself and your world.”