My name is John James, and I’m a storyteller.
I’ve also been called a blogger, a content designer, a technical writer, and many other names for the different types of writing I’ve created over the years. But none of those names has ever sat comfortably with me. Because what I do is tell stories, and so I like to be called a storyteller.
So, let me tell you a story about storytelling.
Let’s go back to the past
It is believed that modern humans — Homo Sapiens — first appeared on this planet around 350,000 years ago when our species split from our closest relatives, Homo Erectus.
The unusual thing about the first 280,000 years or so of our history as a species is how unexceptional we were. In terms of technology and intelligence, we didn’t behave that differently from our cousins, the Neanderthals, for example. We both used fire. We both made and used simple tools like stone axes. We both buried our dead. And we both likely spoke a simple form of proto-language.
But 70,000 years ago, something changed; it’s called the cognitive revolution. After that date, we see a bunch of cognitive advances in Homo Sapiens not present in other human-like populations.
We built boats that allowed us to cross seas and migrate to Australia and the Americas. We invented oil lamps that permitted us to create sophisticated art deep within cave systems. We invented bows and arrows to more efficiently hunt game. And we used needle and thread to make clothing for the first time instead of merely wearing animal skins for warmth.
So, why did we suddenly jump ahead of our cousins? Some scientists believe a random genetic mutation led homo sapiens to develop more sophisticated language skills than our cousins. Suddenly we were able to share and communicate more complex ideas and abilities than we had previously.
But I think the significance of the cognitive revolution is more than that. I believe that 70,000 years ago marks the date we first became storytellers. And the most important stories we told each other were instructional stories; how to build boats, and make oil lamps, and construct bows and arrows, and how to use a needle and thread. Imagine the creative and engaging stories those people must have told each other.
Back to the present
It’s not often in anyone’s career that you get a chance to reinvent yourself or reinvent the way you work. But that’s just the opportunity I now have; a chance of a new beginning. A chance to engage in my own cognitive revolution.
And so I’ve decided to stop “working for the man” and dedicate my skills and talents to help sustainable business and organisation tell their own stories. It’s time to be creative. It’s time to have fun. It’s time to be a storyteller again.