E97. What Can You Learn From A National Geographic Explorer with Dr. Elizabeth Lindsey
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Francisco Mahfuz 0:00
Hi everyone, Francisco here. Just before we get started, I wanted to share something I'm really excited about. I recently launched the story powers bootcamp, a course that teaches you everything you need to know about how to find craft and tell stories that work. But it's not just an online course, because you get personalised feedback from me for all the practical activities in three hours of life coaching to work through any challenges, or focus on specific projects. So it's like if you bought a cookbook, but the chef came along with it. So go to story powers.com and click on Course, all the information you need will be there. So please check it out. And if you love the show, and would like to support us, you can go to buy me a coffee.com forward slash story powers. I drink about five coffees a day, so any support would be much appreciated. All right on with the show.
Welcome to the story powers podcast, the show about the power of stories, the people who tell them and why you should be doing it too. I'm your host, keynote speaker and storytelling coach Francisco first. My guest today is Dr. Elizabeth Kapoor. I learned Lindsay. Elizabeth is the first Polynesian explorer and female fellow in the history of the National Geographic Society, and Native Hawaiian elder cultural anthropologist and award winning filmmaker. She travels to the world's most remote regions as a conservationist of indigenous wisdom, and an advocate of social, environmental and cultural justice. She is the recipient of the United Nations visionary award, and she has served as an advisor to global organisations, including the Tibet fund for His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Elizabeth is a former Miss Hawaii, she has delivered three TED Talks and now in what is surely a highlight of her distinguished career, she's a guest on the story powers podcast. This isn't isn't. isn't America to the show?
Elizabeth Lindsey 2:00
Thank you so much, Francisco. I've never had such an introduction. That's something Thank you.
Francisco Mahfuz 2:07
You know, that must be the most self aggrandizing introduction about my show that I've ever read. But it's it's somewhat inspired by what I consider our very strange converse, our very first initial conversation, so you and I didn't know each other until maybe a week ago. And you reached out to me on social media saying that you were blown away by my work. Because I'm arrogant. And think too much of myself. I thought, of course, my work is fantastic. And then I went and looked at your work. And I thought, Wow, this I think I think her mind is going she has travelled too much. Now she's been cooped up because of COVID. This this, this is clearly there's a problem here. So my question to you, and I think this is going to lead us into too much of the stuff that I want to talk to you about is, you said that there were a lot of intersections between my work, which my audience will be familiar with, in your work, which they won't. So what were those intersections nature saw?
Elizabeth Lindsey 3:12
Well, it's a terrific question, it's a perfect place to start. So with the cultures that I visit, and live with, you know, it, as you said, in some of the most remote parts of the world, cultures that people have almost never heard of. They see storytelling as the medicine for the world. I mean, they really believe, especially during these times, that are filled with so many challenges. That story actually helps us make sense of life and the world around us. And it also helps us make sense of our own lives. So these cultures have taught me that stories are the medicine for the world. And the storytellers are the shaman, which I think is very interesting. Because then when I came across your post, your initial post and I thought, Who is Fransisco, I need to meet him because we are doing very similar work and get you as a story teller, as a coach, as you know, a host. Me as an anthropologist, this is a brilliant intersection for both of us. It's like a complimentary, you know, experience for us.
Francisco Mahfuz 4:24
Well, I think that after this conversation, I might just have to add to my to my list of LinkedIn titles, storytelling shaman, that will go down well, with the with the business community, I think that's good to view what CEOs most most CEOs are not one. So you've been to a lot of different places. You've you've interacted with a lot of different cultures. And I was just trying to figure out what is the what is the correct way to refer to this to this peoples to the civilizations because I think back in the days when we didn't know how horrible we were as people Human beings, we would call them primitive cultures or something along those lines, which I'm sure would have, you're climbing up the walls. So is there a term now to refer to this sort of more ancient or primal civilizations that I'm just not familiar with?
Elizabeth Lindsey 5:15
Yes, absolutely. Well, you know, they're all native to a place, we're all native to someplace. And, and for them, you know, even the term indigenous, though we use it a lot is is not entirely accurate. They're, they're native to a particular land and a tradition, and a society of people. And, you know, it's very interesting, because I've, you know, I've heard a lot of people say, Well, you know, they're primitive, and they're, you know, they're, they're not advanced, and yet, their cultural intelligence, and wisdom and knowledge are so sophisticated, you know, in many ways, we have a lot to learn from them. So I'm, you know, I'm really grateful for the opportunity I've had to travel and live with among these cultures.
Francisco Mahfuz 6:08
Okay, so let me understand, let me understand a bit more what sort of experiences you've had when it comes to these types of cultures and storytelling, particularly. And I'm coming from a point of view of someone who, often when I, when I give keynotes when I talk to people in workshops, it's one of the most common tropes, perhaps as the word for talking about storytelling is how, you know, storytelling has been with us for a very long time. This is how people communicated back in, back in in the ancient days. But arguably, those civilizations that you have visited, there still are in the ancient days, they haven't changed necessarily, as much as we obviously have changed. So how much of that representation of those coaches as massive massively storytelling coaches, how accurate? Is that actually? And how much is this? Is that just as maybe romanticising the issue? A little bit? No,
Elizabeth Lindsey 7:06
no, it's not at all. I mean, the very much the cultures that I've lived with are very steeped in storytelling. And, and even, you know, because they still spend a great deal of time, many of these are oral traditions. So they're primarily, you know, they express their stories, through through language through their languages, their songs, their chants, their dances, their music, their poetry, even their food. I mean, everything has a story. And it's just how we define story. But you know, when when I go to be with a culture as an anthropologist, my definition is very simple. It's my, my willingness to bear witness to the world and suspend my own judgments. So when I go to be with them, I'll be very quiet. I don't even start asking questions ever. And for many of these cultures, because they're entrusting me as I come in, but they'll still be reading me like weather conditions. So, for example, I was with an elder, who never spoke to me for three days, just sat with me and rocked in his chair, never said a word. But the entire time he was reading me, because, you know, quantum physics support this, you know, the whole notion that we are made up of waves and particles. So these people navigate in the most sophisticated way, whether they're on the ocean or in the deserts, they're navigating, and, and what I've learned from them is the same ability for us, you and I, I can sit there and I can look at your facial expressions, and I can listen to your words, but more importantly, I'm listening to the spaces between your words. So these are all parts of navigating to be able to walk into a boardroom or to work with executives, and you are reading the room and everyone in the room, not only what they're saying, not only their obvious behaviours, but the subtle, subtle things that the subtle cues that they don't even realise they're broadcasting or transmitting. So these people, everything that they do is a story and every story, I mean, they're very intentional. And what I believe is part of their most sophisticated technology is that they have a heightened state of awareness. So for example, I lived with sea nomads in the Andaman Sea. These are people who during the 2004 Tsunami, when hundreds of 1000s of lives were lost, this small tribe of 2000 people weren't even injured. And I was fascinated to know why. So I flew, you know, across the world to be with them and it was not easy to go and live with sea nomads. But you understand you start to understand that their heightened state of origin airness and their ability to recognise patterns, I mean, their pattern recognition. And all of this is built upon stories through generations. You know, the dolphins come in, during this time of the morning, and they, they rest in shallow waters. So when they see that break in the pattern, they know that this, this marks, you know, a really important indicator, and or the elders and people that had gone ashore that morning to go and gather food just prior to the tsunami, the elder that was with them, realise the birds were not singing, breaking a pattern. But you have to understand what the pattern is before you can recognise that there's a break in it. And so all of this is a function of their cultural stories. They know that the birds sing in the forest, they they are so intimately wedded to nature, that those that were waiting for this group to come back from the island with food, or on their boats and saw the dolphins racing, and went and followed after them because they knew that there was something wrong. The people that were on the island recognise the birds stop singing, so they raised to higher ground. That's how they save themselves. So, you know, my question is an anthropologist is how do we apply these same methods of awareness that these same abilities to heighten our awareness that when we go into meetings, that we can read patterns much more, much more masterfully, that we can present much more masterfully. This is, you know, this is the power of storytelling and the application of this kind of cultural intelligence to the modern world.
Francisco Mahfuz 11:45
If we, if we talk for long enough, you start realising one pattern here, which is you'll be saying something profoundly wise, and my face was start doing this, which is an assault of something completely nonsensical that I want to throw in. And I tried to decide if it's worth interesting. Because he said, Oh, my, my definition of anthropologists is a very simple thing, I bear witness and I suspend judgement. And I thought can only do one of those I can do the first cannot do the second.
Elizabeth Lindsey 12:16
It takes a lot of humility and a lot of bruised and scraped knees because I have made every mistake possible under the sun.
Francisco Mahfuz 12:24
So when it comes to, to the way that so you also said, you know, depends on how you define storytelling. So do they, they have a defeat in some of these cultures you've been they think of storytelling and stories, as a separate thing as we do now. Or or to them? Do they even have a word for it? Because I can imagine some coaches probably don't have a word for it, they might call it something completely different. That is not doesn't have this idea of this separated, set a separate type of communication.
Elizabeth Lindsey 12:55
No, there are many words for it. I mean, that they, you know, these languages are so sophisticated, that they actually become very precise in their description. But there is no separation between storytelling and the rest of their lives. You know, it's no different from breathing or eating. It's just part of their existence and an integral part of their existence.
Francisco Mahfuz 13:20
Sir, I'm just trying to and again, I know you you lived as a whole bunch of different peoples. So this is there's obviously not one answer that covers all of those things. But I did the image that we usually sold, is the whole, you know, the tribe around the fire type of thing. And have you have you witnessed more ritualised versions of storytelling that would perhaps be a little more in line with with some of the storytelling we see nowadays, which is in speeches and presentations in in actual storytelling shows? Because I know some cultures do that there is this version of the storytelling as entertainment, or as something bigger that gets done around the fire? But is that something you actually witness in your travels?
Elizabeth Lindsey 14:07
Yes, I mean, before we even begin when we go into the circle, and you know, the circle can be is oftentimes around a fire. And, and in terms of rituals, one of the things that's very commonplace that before anyone even speaks whether whether it's in New Zealand, or Hawaii, or you know, parts of South Asia, you begin your story or whatever you're going to share by talking about where you come from and who your ancestors are, because that's the way that they begin to frame I really understand who you are, which is very interesting, because in our modern society, we never really talk about where we come from necessarily. We talk about experiences and usually, you know, they're wrapped around our identifications of who we are Well, I'm, I'm eviscerate that and you know, I've gotten a degree from this, that becomes our professional genealogy. But these cultures are not interested in that. They really want to know your familial ties, because that tells them, it informs them about who you are in terms of your perception, how you were raised, how you see the world, you know, where, where your perspectives come from. And I think that's really fascinating.
Francisco Mahfuz 15:30
It's interesting, because it's something that too was to our generation. And I'm not sure to your generation, the idea is almost offensive, that you should introduce yourself by not who you are and what you've done. But by who your parents were, or who your grandparents were, as I think today, there is this resistance to this idea that, you know, my surname matters, or the you know, my class or my family, because because I think perhaps we've associated a lot of these things with this more antiquated or more traditional social norms that are no longer there, you know, over the last few decades have become less relevant in. So in most Western cultures, at least, and the idea that you know, who your parents were should matter when we're going to listen to you, they, I can feel myself resisting it, I can see the beauty of it on one side, the other side is like, No, my dad has nothing to do with this, I don't want my dad to have anything to do with this.
Elizabeth Lindsey 16:32
I think it's a really important point that you raised, because I can see both sides quite easily. I think what happens when and and this just comes from, you know, my background in Hawaii, when I'm away from a wahoo, which is the most populated island, where people can be a bit anonymous, so they're on the road, and they can honk their horn or, or be a bit rude. You could never do that on one of the neighbour islands, because everybody knows your family, you know, they know who you are. So there's a degree of anonymity that allows us to be you know, we're not where we don't have to be. So mindful of those considerations. I do completely agree with you. I don't think they're asking necessarily about who our family lines are based on, on, you know, social, I guess it gets a social order of things. But I do feel that there's also a great freedom of not being necessarily contained in a family's narrative. Do you know, for example, my family came from a very small town surrounded by sugarcane plantations. And people told me that I would never be successful growing up, that I should be grateful for any job that I could find in our hometown. And somewhere in me, I didn't believe that to be the story of my life. And, and I think, had I done that or just accepted, you know, their opinions for my destiny to be true, it would have been a very different outcome. And so to your point, I think that when we are able to spread our wings, and to compose a different story for ourselves, and compose a very different narrative, all of a sudden, you know, all of those barriers break down. And I'm highly in favour of that.
Francisco Mahfuz 18:35
So here's another intersection that I think is very interesting. You were talking about how in a lot of these cultures, you've experienced, people start by telling, talking about where they came from, which to them often has to do with their family. I think the modern day version of that is what I call the origin story. So with a lot of the people that I work with, the you know, some people want to become proficient storytellers. They want to be able to put out content or ideas out in the world in a way that is more compelling. And that's one type of storytelling skill, but with a lot of people, the exercise is figuring out where they came from, in a way, and how is that relevant to to who they are now. So you know, if they work in a particular area, what happened in their past that made them passionate about this, or where they learn the skills that allow them to do this, and you often go back to childhood. So the one I often share is this experience about being I think I was 12 years old, I was in school, the teacher asked me to go in front of everyone and share a story. And then you know, the students were half of the students are terrified for me. The other ones they'll have fun to see crash and burn. And then as I walk up to the front of the class, I realised that I am terrified but I'm also excited because in school I never felt like I fit in. And then I have had this childish notion of what if they like my story? Could this be the thing that changes everything for me, and then I go up there, I tell a story. And they, they laugh, and they cheer. And they ask for more. And, you know, while I'm up there, I feel like the most popular kid in the school. And that was my first contact with with the power story can have. So I, I often use that story, or versions of that story. When people ask me this question that every time we give an interview, or in a podcast they ask, which is, you know, tell us about yourself, or you know, how come you're doing what you're doing now. And I, I didn't need to go back that far, I could have picked other examples from my life. But I often find that you go back a little bit, share a little bit from something from your formative years. And then you can skip a whole bunch of stuff and get to where we are now. And I've seen you do pretty much exactly the same thing. In in some of your talks, where you share what happened when you were, I think, seven years old. And you're talking to the three elders that the three other elders, the female elders that raised you, and, and I find that a lot of people can do that, like they can do that in they should do that. They need to share a bit of their origin. So we get a feel for, for who they are and what, what, what they're made of, in some cases,
Elizabeth Lindsey 21:25
yeah, I think it's very true. And I appreciate your, your origin story. And I think it's very important. And it's not only the obvious origin story, but it's the stories, it's the more subtle stories that we adopt about ourselves. Right? That, for example, when I was when, when I was in high school, well, when I was going through school, I was painfully shy. And the idea of standing up in the front of a group to speak, we had to do it for speech class in order to graduate. But I put on my best homemade dress, which was not very pretty. And I shook like a leaf. And I had this, this really interesting quirk that anytime I got nervous, or attention was called to me, I turned bright red. So my classmates called me Rudolph. And it was not it was not good. But But up there, as I was finishing my speech, and all I wanted to do was get down to back to my seat, my teacher said, Elizabeth, Lindsey, get back to the front of the room. And in the front of everyone, she said, You will never be a success. Now, the point of this story is that in that moment, the 16 year old whose knees were shaking, who was bright red in the front of a class that she wanted so much to love her, I knew that I had two choices. And the two choices were this, I could either accept that opinion of a teacher and make that the truth for my life. Or I could choose again. And I chose the latter. And I started standing up to speak whenever I could, I was terrible at it. But I kept standing up to speak until one day I was no longer afraid. So like your story, it's the stories that we tell ourselves that are are ultimately the most defining and the most powerful.
Francisco Mahfuz 23:21
Well, so two things about that. First of all, if you pardon my language, your teacher was an asshole. It's shocking. That's it, save that child, let alone in front of a whole bunch of other children, right? It's not like college, your side isn't your failure, you're never gonna amount to anything that's awful. There is nowhere near as awful as the heat in front of the classroom. Right? And the second thing is that you said earlier that, you know, you grew up next to the sugarcane plantation and there was this, this, this expectation that you will never amount to anything. So that's one Destiny story. The other Destiny story is the one that the elders told you was going to be the destiny. So I think to a great extent, what you've done and what anyone who does this exercise of figuring out what their origin story is, it is, in a way, choosing our destiny backwards, because we know where we are. And we're now looking back into our past and saying, Okay, this works for me, either because it confirms where I am, or because it was so because it was so such the opposite of where I am now. That it there was a motivation for this. Like everybody told me one thing, but the opposite happened. That's one way of playing. It's the other one is everybody told me this thing. I never listened to them. And now when I finally listened, I'm doing this thing, right, so they were right all along and I was in Egypt. So that's kind of kind of my version of the origin story the way many ways is, I should have figured this out when I was 12. But it took me until I was almost four figured it out. So So yeah, in a sense We are writing our destiny backwards when we do this type of stuff. That's really
Elizabeth Lindsey 25:05
fascinating. Francisco, thank you for saying that I made. I made a point of writing it down.
Francisco Mahfuz 25:11
Yes, I think I think you do need to, you know, COVID needs to go away, you need to start travelling more. I think your lack of exposure to really interesting people and cultures and starting to tell. There was something I've seen you do when when you were telling stories on your TED talks, which is something I do. And I was curious if you picked it up from modern storytellers, or from from native storytellers, which is telling your stories in the present tense? Yes, they do.
Elizabeth Lindsey 25:42
Because they've been the cultures, because everything for them is live in this moment. And it this is the moment for them that matters. So they tell their stories in the present moment. And thank you for asking. I mean, rarely do people ever even bring that up. But but it is a powerful process. Because even for you, you meaning us, it allows us to be back in that moment, that then starts to bring that moment alive.
Francisco Mahfuz 26:14
Some things, something almost anyone probably asked so suggest, is it No, maybe sometimes instead of having the the heroic, inspiring story of the elders in your destiny, when you were seven, you could just start your presentations telling people how you became Miss Hawaii, I think that'll give them literally different feeling.
Elizabeth Lindsey 26:37
I mean, the truth, the truth with that one is that is that my father got very sick when I was in my first year of school. And so I was taking myself out of school, because we couldn't afford it. And a friend said, you know, Elizabeth, there's this, this Scholarship Pageant, you probably could never win. But if you could get if you could place this runner up, then you could get back into school and work part time. So that that was my goal was just to place as a runner up so that I could stay in school,
Francisco Mahfuz 27:08
maybe I'm very cynical, but you don't see this is another way of playing your your your origin story is that once you've experienced in war, the winner of one of the stupidest cultural traditions our civilization has developed, you decided that there's got to be a little more to tradition and culture than this. Let me go explore the five minutes, because this is just nonsense.
Elizabeth Lindsey 27:32
And you know, I mean, it's also a very generational thing, because you and I are in different generations. So I grew up, you know, where, where this was part of, you know, what I saw, and I didn't have, you know, great dreams for myself. I mean, my elders saw something quite unique. But I didn't know how I get from there to there at all. And so and so it wasn't a straight line by any stretch, and I meandered and bumbled a lot. But But luckily, you know, there was there was wind in my sails that carried me in spite of myself.
Francisco Mahfuz 28:10
Yes. Now I can I can imagine, again, congratulations for weeding. I can't imagine that it's easy to read one of those things. But the contrast there, it's just, it's just delightful.
Elizabeth Lindsey 28:21
Well, you know, it's also funny, because I never ever talked about Miss Hawaii. And then I became an explorer at National Geographic. And, you know, when when you go through a vetting process, everything is is available. And I thought and so and so one of one of the the heads that National Geographic said, you know, Lisbeth, it's who you are, it's part of your story, just just let it be there. And that was the first time I actually publicly put it anywhere, because I felt that they were right. And and I do believe that transparency, and and even even things like this, as we laugh, it makes us somehow more human and relatable. I wouldn't I wouldn't enter the pageant now. But at the time wanting to be back in school, it mattered. Yeah, I
Francisco Mahfuz 29:11
think that that part of it, anyone that has any issues with, you know, before, if they thought that you were somewhat you know, obsessed with your appearance, and you want to be crowned as the prettiest or whatever that they consider the Miss Hawaii to be. I think that part sells it. So it says if this was your way to get back into school,
Elizabeth Lindsey 29:30
anyone who knows me knows how clumsy I am in high heels. Nobody had any great faith that we were going to pull this one out of the hat. But yeah, I think we all have what we bring to the table that that makes up our story. It can be very interesting.
Francisco Mahfuz 29:48
So one thing you have said before, it's definitely one of the TED Talks and I think you might have said it on interviews as well. Is the line was when an elder dies alive. barriers burned. And libraries are ablaze all around the world, which is beautiful imagery, but a very sad reality. The work you do is obviously one of the ways to try and stem that. But, you know, with all the goodwill in the world, you're you're one person. So is there, is there something that if you could have a magic wand and convince people that this is a thing that they should be doing? And not necessarily just with, with native civilizations, but but across the board? What is your suggestion, or correction or fix or whatever, that would help us? You know, save that knowledge? What do you think needs to be done?
Elizabeth Lindsey 30:43
Well, it's a fantastic question, I thank you for asking it. With technology. Now, we are in a position that we've never been in before, where we can record so easily on something as simple as a mobile device. And so what I encourage people to do, and regardless of where whether I'm because many cultures throughout the world now, even even some of the most rural areas, have mobile devices. So I'll be in South India, and I'm encouraging young children in South India who are quite poor, if they don't have mobile devices, use a pencil and a paper and go and sit with your family and your grandparents and ask them questions about their lives. Because I believe that what we have to do is simply be recording in using whatever we have available in order to to make sure these stories are not lost, we cannot assume that we can just wait a bit longer because people are passing away, especially now with COVID. So so that's my encouragement is that everybody start to record their own stories. I mean, you know, you and I are immersed in this. But there are many people that haven't really even thought about the stories that define who they are, but to record their own stories and see the fascination of their lives, and the wonder of their lives, and then record their loved ones, you know, whether it's their children or their parents doesn't matter. We must record our stories.
Francisco Mahfuz 32:19
I think the challenge there is, is this obstacle that I often come across, in and I just last, just yesterday, I recorded an episode with with Allison Kusa, who's someone who works a lot with nonprofit organisations before COVID. She did that around the world. So she mushrif She calls herself that, but I called her a travelling story, Hunter. And in that she said that the problem for most people is that they just because they're living through their lives, they don't tend to consider those as particularly worthy stories. And I come across that all the time is just the hardest thing for most people is to show them, this thing you just doing now, this thing you just did last year, that is that there's not one story there's 100 stories there but but that overall your life is a story that there's a lot for other people to learn from or to find entertainment in. That's definitely a case of my life, usually, but it is worth it. And I think if you told if you convinced everyone, you need to record your stories and gave them the gave them the phone to do so most people would have, you know, a blank file after a year, because they would still go out nothing happen. Right? I haven't got anything to share. When when something really good happens. I'll share that story. And I think that's the challenge with most people is is they keep expecting something fantastic. When you know, to most to most of us in someone else's life is fantastic. hours, not so much.
Elizabeth Lindsey 33:57
But what let's let's dig down a little deeper than that. Because we live in a world of social media. And we are seeing that people I mean, inherently people want to be seen and heard and know that they existed, they want their life to have some meaning. And so we see more than ever that people are telling their stories, they may not be the kind of stories that you and I are speaking about right now. But they're posting images and and you know, clearly there are we can we can argue both sides of this around, you know whether the stories are real or whether they're projected and how they'd like to be perceived, right? But the fact is that more than ever, people feel like they do not want to be invisible. And what we must do as a storytellers as story encouragers as story generators, is that we make it simple for people To start to see that even the slice of a moment in their lives is very interesting story and make it easy for them to tell it. I think, I think your posts that I discovered on social media does just that it encourages people, it, you know, continues to amplify the importance of storytelling, people, it's just a shift and a reframing of our references, and our perspectives that say, stories are easy to tell, turn on the camera, and tell us tell us a moment in your life that was that was, you know, profound, embarrassing, hilarious, it doesn't matter. Just Just tell us, you know, if he, you know, so that people don't get to the end of their lives because I hear this a lot. Because, you know, I'm I'm generating generation, at least out of you. But people are saying, Elizabeth, I feel like I may pass from this life with a music still in me. That hasn't fully been expressed. Now, that's really sad. So how do we how do we address that? We start, we start to tell our stories.
Francisco Mahfuz 36:08
Do you remember which what story of mine was the one that drew your attention?
Elizabeth Lindsey 36:14
No, you know what I found? I mean, I don't even know how it popped up. Because I'm still very new to the platform. And so I don't know how the feeds come through. But all of a sudden, yours did. And you were speaking. And I thought, and I saw a story. And so I went on and started listening to you. And I thought who is Francisco?
Francisco Mahfuz 36:33
Is this by any chance, the one about me destroying the water tank in my father's house?
Elizabeth Lindsey 36:39
I think it was, I think it was right after that I went and sent you a direct message because I thought I need to know this man.
Francisco Mahfuz 36:47
So one of the things we we touched on a few times now is I never thought of it necessarily that way. But I have been on somewhat of a quest to or a mission to prove to myself and to other people, that almost everything can become an interesting story. And if you look through through more, I mean, that one is not that doesn't fit quite that criteria, because you know, that was somewhat somewhat fantastic having 20,000 litres of water pouring inside the house. But the vast majority of the stories that I share, we one one that was one of the most popular ever told on LinkedIn was about me messing up an Ikea wardrobe. That that was it. The whole store is essentially me like trying to put this monstrosity together because I can and then it's just like, the whole thing just is just wrong. And everyone has had that experience. And you decide that I can do this. And then you waste you know, two days doing it that you almost kill yourself, and then you still do it wrong. And like the vast majority of people, if I asked him, Do you think that you're assembling Ikea furniture is worth the story? They will go? No, it's not. But but it is, you know, conversation with your kid is is often with a story, a conversation with your partner that you didn't have might be worth a story. So you know, and you could you could argue that perhaps because we've been cooped up for almost two years barely getting out that these are the stories we can tell because I'm you know, not leaving great adventures travelling around the world, and neither are most people. But But even if we could do that, identifying that the smallest moments tend to be the most relatable. So in a sense, the smaller the moment, the bigger the potential audience, because you haven't put in travelling around the world or leaving with sea nomads as a as a point of break between your story and mine. Because it's hard to relate to those things. You know, we if you frame it incorrectly, I listen to a story about a sea Nomad thinking this is like the Lord of the Rings, but depends on how you frame it. It's like, oh, yes, they're just just families trying to do the right thing. And they're following some tradition. My family has traditions, I can relate to that. I'm sure they have weird uncles too. So
Elizabeth Lindsey 39:12
that I understand what you're saying. And you make a very, very important point. Because it's those small moments, but but, you know, I think what's essential is that these conversations encourage people to to just to just to dip into the water, they don't have to dive into the deep end of the pool, but just to start to test the water out and, and and because of COVID I think COVID is great gift to all of us. Because most of us are closer to being homebound than then at other parts of our lives. And so what we're doing is we're excavating the stories that are right here before us and they can be as simple as you know your your If you are building a an Ikea wardrobe, or, or, or my, you know, my, my moving into a house and not being able to find a spoon or a fork to eat with, you know, these are, you know, these are simple stories. But you know, to your point, the more intimate our stories are, you know this, the the more human our stories are, the more relatable they become.
Francisco Mahfuz 40:28
And there's something else that I might start boring myself in audience by talking about so often, which is that it not only every little moment can potentially be a story that someone else will learn from. But perhaps more importantly, they can be something we will learn from. Because if we're not, if we're examining our lives, with this idea of this, there's probably a story I can tell here. When you're going to do that you have to figure out I mean, not your friends, necessarily. But if you're doing that, in a context, like social media like business, you do need to find some sort of point or moral of the story or lesson in there. In how, how often are we finding life lessons on our day to day lives for ourselves? Most of us are not like, you know, learning steadily on a day to day basis. And if you're learning, you're learning externally, right, you know, I did a course or read a book or watch a documentary, how often does someone say to you, I spent 20 minutes trying to put together this story about something that happened to my kid. And now I've learned something about myself and how I am as a parent, and what does that has to say about my childhood? never good enough conversation has never taken place, wouldn't
Elizabeth Lindsey 41:46
it be it wouldn't be fantastic. If we became as your friend was talking to, you know, as you were referring to her as a travelling story, Hunter, if we became lesson hunters in life, I mean, like, like life lesson hunters, because there are lessons embedded in in these moments in lots of small moments. And we just, you know, we just haven't developed at least I haven't developed a real keen muscle to recognise
Francisco Mahfuz 42:16
them. So there's a couple of other things I wanted to ask you before, before we done one of them is particularly when we're talking about about Native peoples, how do we avoid what could be I mean, don't know if this happens now. But there's there's two sides of this equation. One of them is think of them as primitive, which, which I know you're very much against, and I think most reasonable thinking people today should be against. But the other extreme of that continuum is to romanticise who they are, is this idea of, you know, and I think email for example of the whole, you know, the Paleo movement, right, all of a sudden, we need to eat like cavemen and then all of a sudden, everything the cavemen did is how human beings well, maybe we don't want to be like the cavemen in the vast majority of things in our lives. Maybe they they had some things dialled down, but not everything. And I think that there is a bit of a trap there when we talk about the wisdom of a native civilizations and peoples of, you know, talking as if everything is absolutely fantastic. And I think to some people, it clearly is not, there are things that are problematic, in if that's not perhaps addressed, it would be might diminish. The other part of the message is, yes, but you're not talking about the other thing. So I'm not sure you can trust your judgement there. So how do you how do you navigate that with some of the stories that you share about this about this this people?
Elizabeth Lindsey 43:45
Yes, I mean, you know, this is a very, very good question. It's a It's a beautifully sophisticated question. I have seen cultures and spent decades living among cultures that have been altogether dismissed, if not at the very least marginalised and acculturated and colonised so they haven't. They haven't been given their due. I recognise that there are problems within cultures, all cultures have, you know, certain challenges, and so without without romanticising it I think that there is a gap between marginal are marginalising cultures or romanticising cultures. And in that spectrum, is that is is the truth of what exists, and being able to really bear witness to see all of it without judgement, all of it without judgement. But as much as possible. I mean, suspending judgement is not an easy is not an easy exercise, but as much as possible, to see where they're struggling and hold a compassionate heart and also to recognise their brilliance knowing that they have been overlooked and marginalised for so long, and why To call to attention, the sophistication of their cultural intelligence and technology, while recognising that they are struggling in certain ways, that that becomes a very fine needle to thread. But I do my best, you know, from moment to moment. Also, you know, I'm I'm very mindful of the fact that they have entrusted me to tell stories, because that's both a privilege and responsibility. So for example, with the expeditions that I lead, I pay for all of my expeditions, because I do not want any of anything that we've recorded, to not be held in trust for these cultures so that it's not compromised, so that their stories are not broadcast on some network or some channel, that then re edits it in a way that that is not intended to be
Francisco Mahfuz 45:55
sort of me follow that sophisticated and thoughtful question with one that might not be that what happened to our elders, because our elders are kind of rubbish. Now. Now, you've met some good elders, I think a lot of the elders we have in our society, and perhaps I'm being unfair to my mother in law, but you know, I look at my parents, and I look at my my parents in law, and I look at all the people that I know that out of that generation, and I'm not finding that wisdom, I'm not finding that they've, that I'm like, Okay, another 20 to 30 years of emotional and spiritual and intellectual growth. And I, you know, hopefully I'll be that way. I'm like, No, you're still kind of selfish and petty and superficial, in many ways, the way I am, like, this is not looking good. What what's happened to these events,
Elizabeth Lindsey 46:50
the problem is, you know, the generation that you're referring to, and the people that you're referring to, probably haven't had the modelling that they needed to, in order to become elders. And that's part of the problem. You know, in a modern society, we have all sorts of prejudices against becoming an elder or elder hood, or eldership. You know, and, and especially, I mean, I can speak to because I live in in the US, that there is a real proclivity, there's, there's so much attention paid to being youthful to looking youthful to being young. And we dismiss or almost put on the sidelines, people who are ageing, I mean, there, there's, you know, there, there's a definite prejudice on ageism. And so what happens as a result is we don't have a lot of role models for great elders, we don't, we don't have the kind of reference that I see in other cultures where it's actually a privilege to have an elder live with you. You know, this is a whole nother conversation, because it's so complex, but there's an acculturation that goes on within our own cultures within my generation, the generation of your in laws in your parents, that we do not have the kind of modelling that's necessary to become a better elder.
Francisco Mahfuz 48:08
Yeah, I think there's clearly an obsession with with youth and how people look and, you know, with my full head of hair and my flawless Bronski, and I think that is just, you know, there's completely unnecessary and shallow and I think people shouldn't focus on those things.
Unknown Speaker 48:27
Everyone was so lucky to be an Adonis like
Francisco Mahfuz 48:34
this is just good lights and makeup. People don't have you carried away the hair. The hair, though, is for you. But I do think that you're trying to try to be one one, I have one clear focus and nothing else and bring everything back to stories. I think that you, you know, you're completely right. They haven't been trained to be elders. But also we've we've completed divorced not only with they haven't been trained to be elders, but our society has has disconnected wisdom with age. And perhaps one of the reasons for it is it's because we stopped being storytellers, because I you know, my my grandfather, he was 100% of storyteller. Now, there were only about seven stories that he repeated over and over, but he did have ways of imparting whatever wisdom he had, which was less than he thought. But still, I mean, he he would sit us down and tell stories from his past and from his professional life. That was the way he communicated, what he knew and what he wanted us to learn. But there's not that many people that do that. And I believe that if you do that, and if you know that you are expected to do that. You might be slightly more concerned about what is the wisdom that I have to impart. If no one is expecting you to teach them anything or share any type of of knowledge or wisdom, then, you know, why bother acquiring it in the first place if it's not for your professional personal benefit.
Elizabeth Lindsey 50:02
I think that's a very good point. But here's another thought in that supports what you're saying. We don't value wisdom, the way we value success or achievement or, you know, wealth. Can you imagine if we reframed and, and found wisdom to be noteworthy people would be clamouring to be wiser. You know, and, and so it's just the way you know, and here's, here's, here's something. The word wealth comes from the word Wella. It's Middle English. And it meant its origins, the origin of the word wealth meant well being. Now we've extracted the meaning of that word and narrowed it down to currency. But can you imagine if we, if we reestablish the origins of the word, wealth, and well being I believe that storytelling, and the value of that, that guides us to our wisdom is essential, and all of a sudden wisdom would take on a whole different meaning?
Francisco Mahfuz 51:07
I agree. And I also think people on their value, how much how much making people laugh is a nod that should receive a lot of money. And without being a stand up comedian, necessarily, I'm pushing for that on store reason, and making people laugh. That's my, those are my visions.
Elizabeth Lindsey 51:24
It's true. Well, I mean, that, that lightness we, you know, we're all we're all seeking that right, we're all seeking joy and meaning and, and I wish that that wisdom for wisdom to become a part of that equation.
Francisco Mahfuz 51:39
Alright, on that note, you mentioned that you're fairly new to the platform we met on which is LinkedIn. So if someone wants to find out more about the work you have done, which covers a very, you know, we didn't even talk about the the award winning documentary you did about how the peoples of Hawaii, we didn't cover a whole bunch of stuff that you do, but what is the best place for people to go if they want to find out more about what you have done and what you are doing now?
Elizabeth Lindsey 52:06
LinkedIn? For sure. It's where I'm more of my time, or or Elizabeth lindsey.com. Okay. And that LinkedIn, but But Elizabeth lindsey.com would be the right place to go.
Francisco Mahfuz 52:18
I'll put that on the show notes. And I told you, I think just before we started recording that I had a feeling this, this podcast episode would sound a little bit different than some of the other recorded so much fun to be with you. It is about Thank you very much for diving. This has been tremendous fun.
Elizabeth Lindsey 52:37
Thank you. I feel the same way. Thank you for having me. Alright, everyone.
Francisco Mahfuz 52:40
Thanks for tuning in. Take care of yourselves. And until next time.
I hope you enjoy the show. And if you did, I'd love for you to subscribe and leave us a review or a rating on the Apple podcasts app. It's very easy. You open the app and find the show and scroll down a little and when you see the stars tap. I'd really appreciate it and it does help other people find us. And if you'd like to get in touch or find out more about what I do, reach out to me on LinkedIn or visit my website story powers.com