Tag Archives: #storytelling#

I first read this story in Readers Digest and recently found it in this blog. To me its a story of practical faith. Sometimes I wonder how much I try to help God when Im asked to let go. This story is about 2 sides of a coin. Trusting God is also about taking action and how supernatural and natural coexist. I used to live in Bangkok when it floods in December and we had to take little boats so this story appealed to me.

A man was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He prayed to God for help.

Fishing village in Yilan, Taiwan 2019

Soon a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.”

The stranded man replied, “No, it’s OK, God is going to save me.”

So the rowboat moved on.

Then a motorboat turned in, the fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.”

The stranded man replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he will rescue me. I have faith.”

So the motorboat went on.

Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.”

Again, the stranded man replied, “No thanks, God is going to save me. I have faith.”

So the helicopter flew away.

Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to meet God. He exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. Why!”

God replied, “I sent a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter to help you, what else did you expect?” James 2:14

Note to Self

What new habits and goals can I set for 2021?

#story #fable #readers digest

Humans tell stories for centuries. According to Christopher Booker (2004), these stories can be divided into 7 plots. 

  • Overcoming the Monster.
  • Rags to Riches.
  • The Quest.
  • Voyage and Return.
  • Comedy.
  • Tragedy.
  • Rebirth.


Other application of 7 archetypes in branding: Jereme Waite, Keith Browning

Pryor and Bright (who was recently in Singapore to talk about the Chaos Theory), identified the use of these 7 plots in career counselling.

These “archetypal plots” may help to identify the kinds of stories individuals construct, and represent “systems of meaning”. Such systems provide insight into how individuals interpret their experience and the amount of  influence and control they over their circumstances.

Pryor and Bright proposed that counselling application could be used in these archetypes to “identify the plots underlying individual’s stories and provide alternative plots as new ways to perceive their careers and process new possibilities for how to move forward.”  

Case Study 1: Clients who lost their jobs due to corporate retrenchment may come with a “Tragedy” as the dominant plot which block their capacity to see new opportunities. 

Pryor and Bright suggestion: “Overcoming the Monster” would help them see that employment is a challenge to be met than a fate helplessly acceded to. 


Case Study 2: A client who was telling himself a ‘‘Rags to Riches’’ story of single-minded discipline and sacrifice. However, the problem was that the riches never materialised.  But the goal-fixated thinking and action reveals the individual’s overestimation of his ability to control his life and career.

Career Counsellor’s suggestion with client: They decided to recast his story in terms of ‘‘Rebirth’’. This led Max to start exploring by networking to open up new possibilities. 

Pryor and Bright acknowledge that this is dynamic, and our narratives can gear toward closed systems thinking as change and complexity continue to impact one’s life. At such a point, we may need an adapted narrative. 


Last night at dinner, my friend A recounted the “Sliding Door” theory of her husband’s career change, one event led to another. Her metaphor coincided with my chancing upon Pryor and Bright’s application of archetype storytelling to career counselling earlier. “Sliding Door” archetype falls under “Comedy” or “Happenstance” (Krumboltz), how small seemingly confusing change can lead to something harmonious in finding one’s calling.  I began to see the usefulness of archetypical stories we tell ourselves.

Applying the practice on self, I became more aware of the “victim” tragedy story I tell myself. Not useful. Perhaps a “Rebirth” story or a “Quest” of our journey of self discovery.  My digital storytelling mentor Angeline Koh describes her journey from “Digital Immigrant” to “Digital Native”, a “Quest” of life transformation into the Tech space or maybe even “Rebirth”.  Such stories can be very inspiring for self and others. Angeline has launched a MLC on digital storytelling at Growbe, if you are interested to learn how to create your own story.  


Find yourself stuck with so much disruption? Are you telling yourself a “Tragedy” Story?

Instead, can you reposition your narrative on a “Quest”? Or a Rebirth with new skills to career proof yourself?

What stories do you tell yourself? 

I am on a Quest to find more archetypes, and my next topic will be on Lolly Daskal’s “The Leadership Gap“.


Archetypal narratives in career counselling: A chaos theory application. Pryor, R. & Bright B (2008) [accessed Nov 15 2018].

Pryor, R. G. L., & Bright, J. E. H. (2003). The chaos theory to careers. Australian Journal of Career Development, 12(3), 12–20

I kind of miss President Obama. His eloquence. I’m reading a book “The gift of the Gap – how eloquence works” by David Crystal.

Danny Yung’s Tian tian xiang shang 天天向上 exhibition at Raffles City, Singapore. Photo by me. Phrase means daily self improvement. Always looking up.

Another great book which I will review soon is “Talk like Ted” by Carmine Gallo; on the art of Storytelling.

Back to Crystal’s book. He describes Structure as essential to a good speech, using strings of pearls to connect ideas.

Obama’s victory speech in 2008 had an effective 41 words and 4 word punchline.

If there is anyone out there
Who still doubts
         That America is a place
          Where all things are possible
Who still wonders
          If the dream if our founders is alive in our time
Who still questions the power of our democracy,
Tonight is your answer.

Parallelism with “who still”. Chunking works with your telephone number and with speech.

Shakespeare invented it first. (All literature students know its called poetry. You have it in most cultures. Including Chinese and Japanese.)

Power of threes and fours.

Churchill used it.

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.
In war: resolution
In defeat: defiance
In victory: magnanimity
In peace: goodwill

More than four, opines Crystal, the sequence loses its unity. And rhyme, I add.

Order, order, order
Before and after

☆Campaign, problem, challenges, new dawn
☆From the general and abstract, to the particular and concrete.
☆Invite the audience by repeating a catch-phrase; several times. Eg Yes, we can.
☆Appeal for action

This is our chance to answer that call.
  This is our moment
   This is our time

To put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids
To restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace
To reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth

    That out of many, we are one
     That while we breathe, we hope

And where we are met with cynicism and doubt and those who tell us
That we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people. YES, we can

☆Obama’s word on dream links in spirit Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech.

Political eloquence has its critics. Lloyd Bentsen, criticising the Ronald Reagan administration, using alliteration:

America has just passed through…… an eight year coma in which slogans were confused with solutions and rhetoric passed for reality.

For more pearls, gems and precious insights, read Crystal’s book. He’s a Professor of Linguistics and broadcaster, amongst many literary achievements.