August 15; Tell A Story: Problem, Solution, Result
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

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Chapter Eight: Communication; 15 August

Then he told them many things in parables…

Matthew 13:3a

Tell A Story: Problem, Solution, Result

Three Act Play 

At a recent funeral — they seem to come faster and faster as we get older and older — Charmaine and I talked about burials. Cremation, well, lights our fire and speeds up that dust-to-dust transition.

Charmaine asked what we’d do with the ashes, where on earth to put them.

“Where do you want to get buried?” she asks, expecting the family’s burial plot.

“37º18?N, 137º55?E,” I say.

“What?”

“The Sea of Japan,” I remind her.

She just looks at me confused; getting impatient. (She’s normally good with numbers.)

“What’s there?” she demands.

Bonefish.

War bound

The young Torpedo Man carried his sea bag onto the submarine USS Bonefish. He never left.

During World War II, my dad skipped out of high school and followed his older brother into the Navy. He was assigned to the sub that is, even now, on “eternal patrol” as the Silent Service would say.

A manager gets things done through communicating with other people. Roger C. Schank, cognitive scientist, tells us how to do this best, “Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic; they are ideally set up to understand stories.” A Whole new mind, dan pink, page . 2005 page 102.

Indeed, says TED talker Dr. Brene Brown, “Stories are data with a soul.”

The Christ spoke of life changing principles in parables. Simple stories can be re-told and remembered after the boss has left the building. Every story should have a theme, a plot divided into three parts: the Problem, the Solution and the Result.

Churchill once said that a speech is like a symphony. I may have three movements but must have one dominant melody. James Humes loc 461 Speak like Churchill

Story telling is a condition of employment for managers. “Either you’re going to tell stories that spread, or you will become irrelevant.” Says Seth Godin, CEO of Squidoo, in All Marketers <strike>Are Liars</strike> Tell Stories. (Godin 2009) p 1.

Act I introduces and develops the characters and brings out a conflict of the protagonist.

John Wesley Yoest walked off the doomed boat, survived the war, married his high-school sweetheart and had me.

War

Near what was to be the end of the war, to speed the end of the war. Submarines were dispatched to the Sea of Japan to destroy what little enemy shipping was left. But the war, as we now know with hindsight, would be over in August. Did the navy have to still need to be so aggressive?

But at the time the navy’s leadership did not know how soon the war would end. So risks were measured and taken and Bonefish was caught and sunk by the Japanese.

The lower-cased writer, ee cummings, remarked that there are no Second Acts in America. But this is misunderstood in a life’s drama. Act II reveals the agony of the possible decisions and outcomes.

In our current times, we are too impatient to deal with the middle act, the part of the drama where there is way too much time consuming character development and confrontation.

ee cummings didn’t mean that there were no second chances or that there were no “come-backs” from failure. Indeed the USA culture is a story of come from behind; of redemption; of looking to the future.

Buried at sea, there are no headstones. We cannot mark the grave of the man who took my father’s place, so we mark the date. We pay silent homage in remembrance of June 18, 1945, when the sea smashed through the bulkheads and turned a warship into a coffin.

War won

Dore Schary, who wrote the script to the Oscar winning movie Boys Town, said to Harvard Club LA, “America is a happy-ending nation.” (Manchester 1973) Volume 1, page 729. The best tales present the characters living happily ever after; where all’s well that ends well; riding off into the sunset.

A half-century later, after fighting in and surviving two wars, my father was buried in Arlington Cemetery. He had the chance to raise a family and devote 30 years to the armed services, and pin second lieutenant bars on my shoulders.

He didn’t talk much about Bonefish or the man who replaced him.

Still, I imagine in some Navy Valhalla my dad and this other sailor linked up together and asked the Creator, “Why?”

“Why him? Why me?”

Why was my father not on that submarine that fateful day?

And the answer does not come. Only that my father’s grandchildren now live. With a purpose and a destiny still unknown.

Act III has the resolution of the conflict to The Happy Ending.

The only stories that work, the only stories with impact; the only stories that spread are the “I can’t believe that!” stories. These are the stories that aren’t just repeatable: these are the stories that demand to be repeated. (Godin 2009) p. 159. 

Epilogue

They thought Your Business Professor was going to give the typical politician’s speech: a pandering, colorless, suck-up to the Greatest Generation as I would normally deliver.

Instead, I told the story of ‘why’ I was grateful: kith and kin in the back row.

At the end, a small prop aircraft overflew our small gathering and headed out to sea. A wreath was dropped near the horizon to remember the submariners lost at sea. Still on eternal patrol.

My dad lived and had me, so my children are here to fulfill a purpose larger than themselves. They have a debt of honor to pay to that young Torpedo Man who took my dad’s berth where he sleeps still.

Then he told them many things in parables…Matthew 13:3a

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