Saturday 2 May 2015

Freelance into the World of Words & Stories

 'There's always room for a story that can transport people to another place.' J.K.Rowling

For the last 65 days I have been counting down the days. Well - actually - I have probably been counting them down for a lot longer - since the 31st October 2014 in fact - when I tweeted out somewhat grandiosely: 'Big decision made today. Now just need a little bit of courage to see it through.'

I found the courage 65 days ago when I finally handed in my notice at work and began the 'hilariously long notice period' (as my storytelling friend Jenny described it), which has offered me some time to plan my embarkation into a different story and working life. As my notice period draws to a close, I am gathering all the tools of my trade together and planning which to offer as a consultant. Very consciously, with the utmost care and respect, I pack into my metaphorical toolbox the story of a woman and her son from Colombia that changed the way in which I viewed the world and my involvement in it.

The story came - 12 years ago - from the heart and the part of the Church that we entitle 'persecuted'. This story led me - in fact propelled me - into the working life I have lived these last years:

One day, in a village in rural Colombia a woman heard a knock on the front door of her house. On opening the door she found a small group of men from the local paramilitary group that held control over her community. Her heart sank. She knew that whatever their reason was for standing on her doorstep, it wasn't going to be good.

'We have come for your boy. We want him to join our group.'

'Please', the woman cried, 'not my child. We are Christians. We want him to love his neighbour, not be involved in killing them. Please, don't take my boy. He's only 10.'

The men ignored her cries and they forcibly removed her son from her home.

They brought him back to her though - two weeks later.

They left him - decapitated on her doorstep.

Within three months of hearing that story I was - with uncharacteristic abandon - on a plane to Colombia with the sole purpose of visiting those whose lives were at risk from guerrilla groups who wanted to destroy the very life and being of the Evangelical church in Colombia. I had this internal drive  to let them know that they weren't alone. Rather, there was worldwide network of people who stood alongside them and surrounded them as family.

I  believe in the power of story. Stories are the oldest way through which humanity has learnt - and learns - about life. Stories cause us to think, to act and to change.

If a story of a woman and her child can inspire a 32 year old housewife half way across the world and then commit the next 12 years of her life to speaking and working on behalf of those who experience injustice, then a story can change anyone.

Effective communication will always involve powerful story telling. The best communicators (in fact the best leaders) learn how to tell a story well. For a charity and a business the story of what they do and why they do it, must be expressed powerfully, authentically and inspirationally. After 12 years of telling stories and recruiting significant support for two charities, as of May 14th, I am setting up business as 'Jennifer Cornfield'; helping charities, businesses and churches, train their communicators to speak and write powerfully. I will specialise particularly in the area of public speaking and train communicators (and leaders) to speak confidently and creatively in order that their audience will listen and be inspired to respond.

Compelling, creative, passionate and courageous public speaking transforms lives; the life of the speaker as well as the lives of those listening. I can testify to this fact.  An inspiring speaker takes an audience to a different place, to other worlds and new possibilities. A great speaker opens up a world to you, and with their words and experience invites you to step in.

There are a few more days to countdown until I go freelance into the world of words and stories, but if you would like to find out more about the training I will offer please get in touch. My email is: and keep checking in here where I will be blogging about life, story, communication and invites into other worlds.

'We're all stories in the end, just make it a good one.' Dr Who



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