Do you want to better understand the power of stories? Do you want to be part of the solution when it comes to divisiveness and change? Are you ready to let go of your attachment to your old stories and be open to the possibility of new stories?

Our special guest Gareth Higgins answers these and other questions about leadership, change and reconciliation.

Gareth Higgins was born in Belfast in 1975, grew up during the northern Ireland Troubles, and now lives in the US. He writes and speaks about the power of storytelling to shape our lives and world, peace and making justice, and how to take life seriously without believing your own propaganda. He has been involved in peace-building and violence reduction in northern Ireland and helping address the legacy of conflict, received a Ph.D. in Sociology from Queen’s University Belfast, and helped teach the world’s first graduate course in Reconciliation Studies at Trinity College Dublin. He also helped found the Wild Goose, New Story and Movies & Meaning festivals. Gareth leads retreats in North America and Ireland; and he edits The Porch Magazine. He’s happy to be a work in progress.

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Show Notes

Episode highlights…

  • Lessons from growing up in a divided and sometimes violent society (Northern Ireland)
  • The vital role of mentoring especially during challenging times
  • The risks of believing you know other people’s motivations
  • The power and risks of stories
  • Two key questions with stories:
    • Is it true?
    • If it is true, am I telling the most helpful way?
  • The critical role that context plays in evaluating stories and information
  • The importance of asking questions to understand
  • There’s no value in taking the position that someone else doesn’t have a point
  • Suffering is suffering no matter who caused it
  • Lessons to learn from the peace initiatives in Northern Ireland
  • The importance of understanding individual’s stories and needs (versus always looking at the needs of large groups)
  • Problems seem less daunting when you address one need at a time
  • The role of media in divisiveness and missing the great things happening in the world
  • The expanding circle of sympathy (more people caring about more people)
  • The importance of asking yourself, How important is it for me to believe something is true and why do I believe it to be true?
  • A leadership truth … something is either true and we can’t do anything about it (lead with love), something is true and you can do something about it (lead with love), or something is not true (lead with love)
  • What does it mean to simply show up as a human being
  • The gifts of serving others and the common good
  • Love is essential in life and leadership
  • Beware the stories you make up about people you meet and interact with
  • Instead of complaining, identify the better


Special Guest

Gareth Higgins

Co-Founder of Wild Goose, New Story, and Movies & Meaning festivals

Editor of The Porch Magazine

Your Hosts

Jeff Nischwitz

Author, speaker, coach, consultant, and
Chief SHIFT Officer of Cardivera

Craig Mathews

Strategist, innovator, consultant, and
CEO of Cardivera