(Issue #535) Conveying Your Story

In their story lies their strength for a better future. The same for you.

[For those who follow my blog, you know I end each blog post with a video recommendation.  Don’t miss this week’s video.  I reached into the archives and share with you my conversation with one of the courageous Little Rock Nine students as she conveys her story—or at least a piece of it.]

Stories, when told in a compelling fashion, capture attention. They get an important message across to the other people in the room, on the video call, or reading a social media post.  The teller, however, needs more than a tale to convey and an audience. She needs a structure, or as Bernadette Jiwa says, a scaffold. More specifically, she writes and speaks about The 5Cs of the Story Scaffold.

  1. Context (or backstory for the person)
  2. Catalyst (or event that changes in the person’s world)
  3. Complication (or obstacle that creates a choice for the person)
  4. Change (or transformation to address the obstacle)
  5. Consequence (or resolution that changes the person’s worldview)

Photo by Steve Piscitelli. ©2019

An example I saw often while teaching in the community college system involved older “non-traditional” students coming back to school to change the trajectory of their lives.

  1. Context. They had worked in a particular field for years, for example.
  2. Catalyst.  A layoff or economic recession created the need for a new skill, training, or direction.
  3. Complication. I often worked with students at the community college level who first had to work their way through preparatory classes before they could get to the major area of concentration. Many needed financial assistance.
  4. Change. They attended tutoring sessions, applied for grants and scholarships, or sought career guidance with a student affairs counselor.
  5. Consequence. Certification or graduation.

I always found their stories (their life journeys) powerful and motivating. The obstacles (Complications) they overcame on a daily basis were inspirational. They knew they needed to transform (Change) their behaviors in order to achieve their dreams (Consequence).

Another example.

Let’s use the Reconstruction Era of United States History to demonstrate this model.

  1. Context. The immediate post-Civil War era (1865-1877) saw the ratification of the 13th Amendment (end slavery), the 14th Amendment (citizenship and equal protection of the law), and the 15th Amendment (voting rights). Federal troops were in place until states in the South ratified the amendments.
  2. Catalyst. Federal troops were removed from the last of the Southern states in 1877.
  3. Complication. Jim Crow laws were passed that effectively abrogated the three Reconstruction Amendments (noted above). Black Americans were denied rights and faced discrimination, arrest, and death.
  4. Change. The discriminatory laws were in affect for about a century. The modern Civil Rights Movement leaders paved the way to challenge/expose the marginalization (at the least) of African-American citizens. Brown v. Board of Education (1954) changed the landscape and dialogue. The movement grew and caught the attention of the nation. Marches, sit-ins, and protests mobilized citizens for change.
  5. Consequence. Civil Rights legislation was passed.

Now, given the recent marches regarding social injustice and racism, you could make the argument for a new story where the consequence of the previous story (Civil Rights legislation passed) has become the context for the current story. And the rest of the scaffold continues to build in this story.

We all have stories that demonstrate our resolve. They helped shape your life.  Think about how your story scaffold can help someone else see the light—a new way. Help them see their potential by assisting them to see their own story. In their story lies their strength for a better future. The same for you.

Video recommendation for the week:

While in Little Rock, Arkansas a few years ago I had the opportunity to meet Minnie Jean Brown Trickey. She was one of the Little Rock Nine (1957).  Listen to her compelling story.

Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®


About stevepiscitelli

Community Advocate-Author-Pet Therapy Team Member
This entry was posted in Life lessons and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to (Issue #535) Conveying Your Story

  1. marianbeaman says:

    Thank you for this, Steve. I found the story of Minnie Jean fascinating.via the video. How fortunate you could interview this articulate woman.

    This week I discovered Ruby Bridges’ story in pictures. In case you missed it: https://marianbeaman.com/2020/08/19/astonishing-story-little-ruby-bridges/

    Forward, ho, in spreading the good!


  2. Pingback: (Issue #553) A Blogger’s Retrospective for 2020 | The Growth and Resilience Network®

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s