I found myself curling up on my bed on a cold rainy evening, thinking constantly about my next presentation on career narrative and professional values.
Since I haven’t had a single obvious idea on what my future career would be like, finding a person within the industry would not even be the case to consider.
Put on some music and made myself a cup of hot peppermint tea, I then began to write down things I could see related to the topic.
“Values.”. This word caught my attention.
Random thoughts running in the back of my head. I began to ask myself, that what values in life I’d like to hold on during my future career journey and, maybe for the rest of my life?
Who also has that values that I can learn from?
My brain types in the blank document in my head. ” D A D “. The influential person who nurtures and develops the important values I respect in life, the answer for all of my questions.
As soon as I realised this, I opened my laptop and Facetimed him, opening up a journey of finding out his story of life, the things that he has never told me before during my 20 years and a half living in this world; and how he’s been upholding to the important life values in whatever situations life puts him in.
I began the conversation by asking Dad to describe his current life in one word only.
He told me after a few silent minutes.
Me, like those curious journalists, began to ask questions on how Dad thought having such a satisfying life would be like, and how to achieve it.
“Around 30 years ago, …”, he started the story like that. And all of a sudden, I found myself floating back to the 1970s and facing my Dad, a boy in his 10-year-old looking. He took me, step by step, through every phase of his life from being a schoolboy to a university student, a salesperson, a marketing person, a sales manager, a self-employed person, a Dad/a husband and up to now, a proud director of his own cooperation.
Stopping at each of his life milestones, he showed me a different life lesson. Those that I believe will stay with me, somehow, from now to the end day of my life.
My Dad’s 3 secrets to have a satisfying life:
- Be adaptive.
- Planning ahead your life.
- Family comes first. And the importance of balance between work and other values in life.
Having Dad’s story and all the interview materials needed, I started to write the presentation script. Everything was smooth until the previous night of the presentation, I sat on my bed after the 99th times practising the script, and began to worry about a thousand unknown things. Trivial thoughts just sparked through my mind like a thunderstorm on a cloudy day. What if this story about my Dad’s personal life is not relevant to the professional values required for the assignment? What if the story and message I’m trying to convey are hard to relate in a different cultural context? Why does someone care about my family story?
But the most beautiful thing has really happened during my actual presentation. Listening to the lovely comments and the questions from my classmates, I suddenly realised the power behind storytelling. Us, my tutors, classmates and I, we’re individuals with thousands of different life philosophies and all grow up in dissimilar family settings, but we are all present at that time, in that little space of the classroom, with the sunny sky outside the glass window, sharing stories and similar values that we respect in life.
I haven’t noticed the differences in parenting between cultures. I haven’t noticed the different meanings of ‘sacrificing’ of people from various social backgrounds.
Until my classmates brought those up in front of me.
I remembered there was one question from one of the audiences (Sorry I forgot her name, week 12 of the semester and I’m still learning!) that stuck in my head for such a long time. That whether my Dad’s value of sacrificing derives from his experiences when he was still a kid, that when his siblings had to drop out of school just to let him continue his study because the family was impoverished and couldn’t afford the study of all, or he just developed it by himself. I later on discussed this with my Dad, and he fell into silence for a while. He told me that he hadn’t thought about this possibility before, but his answer was “Yes, I think I’ve been influenced!”.
This made me think about how witnessing a story from an outsider’s perspective can contribute to the disclosure of those absent but implicit values.
Suddenly, I found out that no stories are trivial. Every story carries with it a meaning, or a message. And with storytelling, we listen to draft out those scrawls of shared values of human beings, the values of love, and sympathy.
Interestingly, similarly to some of my classmates’ presentations about their Dad’s career journey and life, there’re a few values that our beloved Dads all have in common. For instance, Alex’s wonderful musician Dad sees Love and Family as his philosophies in life. Jasmyn’s Dad values the Balance between work and family. By sharing our stories, I see no differences between my classmates’ Dads or my Dad, all I can see is a very humane personality trait in each of our dear parent – the loving trait for their important family. And surprisingly, I suddenly feel connected to these people, a feeling of strongly connected for no reason – the feeling I’ve never had before during my 3 years of university when I’d been thinking that I couldn’t even make friends.
This post I found quite fragmented in terms of the logic and organisation of ideas since things just came out continually of my head without a specific order, but I felt like writing them all down while keeping myself floating and floating far away in the Dream Land, thinking about the storytelling work and its unexpected, unbelievably influential power.