Letters from Jordan: Cocooning

My fellow storytellers —

In times of transformation, I always think about cocooning.

Did you know? Once a caterpillar is inside a cocoon, it releases a special enzyme that turns its body into a primordial insect soup. One of the ingredients in this stew is a group of cells that the caterpillar has carried around, uselessly, for its whole life. Suddenly, these cells have a purpose. They become the foundations of the butterfly.

What are these cells called? Imaginal discs.

I love this name. Imagine: the caterpillar dreams the butterfly to life. 

Sure, that’s a bit of a simplification. I’m no scientist. I’m Jordan Bower and this is my monthly newsletter about all things storytelling. You’re on this list because you signed up on my website or at one of my in-person storytelling workshops or speaking sessions. (Remember when…?)

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Stories from my Quarantine:

There’s a park not far from my house in Vancouver, Canada, with a soccer field and two baseball diamonds. Normally, when organized sports are in season, there’s hardly any grass that’s not in someone’s way. But now, the park has been transformed into a makeshift community center. When the sun’s out, I go there and get my people-watching fix.

Over there: a muscular gymnast hangs from his rings strung over the soccer goal. (Watching him is like watching the Olympics.)

Over there: a college soccer player dribbles a ball by herself, as she weaves past the makeshift yoga class.

Over there: three couples picnic in the sunshine, using a pool noodle to measure a precise social distance.

Over there, an older man with his shirt off sits on a lawn chair and slathers sunscreen on his big belly.

Old spaces, used in new ways. From the groups of people line-dancing in the streets to the way our homes are being redesigned to accommodate how we’re living, working and parenting through quarantine. For me, those are the most interesting impacts of the pandemic.

How do we invent new ways of being & working? By cocooning

I’m one of the lucky ones. Here in Vancouver, restrictions are relatively light. I can walk by the ocean. I can be out in the park. And because I’m a one man business, I don’t have to have difficult conversations with my employees. I’ve got space to pivot. And dream.

I’ve been cocooning hard. Over the last six weeks, I wrote the 20th draft of a book — my memoir, Momentum. Still coming soon — from start to finish. I went keto and lost 15 pounds. I’ve reorganized my office. I’ve enjoyed the sublime privilege of be being at home. And I’ve been asking myself some of the same deep questions that I’ll bet you’re asking:

What’s the silver lining?

How can I transform to adapt to the new reality?

What services do my clients need now?

How can my work be more fulfilling for me?

How will leadership change through crisis?

Deep questions. Cocooning.

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t think anyone does. But one thing I know: there will be no “back to normal”. When was the last time things were normal anyway? Before Instagram? Before the iPhone? Before Facebook? Before 9/11? Before Google?

(Besides, how many of us were totally happy with normal anyway?)

Cocoons are undervalued spaces, in a world where everyone demands to know the answers. Cocooning is hard work. Cocooning means asking tough questions. Experimenting. Failing. Doing things that you’re not very good at.

Cocooning means resetting how we move through the world. Letting go of crawling. Learning to fly.

Yesterday, I was in the park. The sun was blazing. The pink cherry blossoms were scattered atop the parked cars. You could just sense summer on the way. I watched parents homeschooling their children and freelancers working with laptops actually on their laps. I listened as a woodpecker knocked on a big chestnut tree bursting with new growth.

I searched for answers, but all I found were deeper and more insightful questions. So I sat back and watched as the man in the lawn chair slathered sunscreen on his belly.

Questions for Cocooning

  • What have you learned about what’s essential for you? What did you think was essential that isn’t? Why?
  • Who did you think was essential? Who is actually essential? Why?
  • Who are the leaders, brands or communicators who have resonated with you? What are some specific examples of their messaging that worked? Why?
  • What’s your silver lining? Why?
  • What do you have to give?

Need help answering these questions by yourself or with your team?
Get in touch.

Stories I’ve Loved

The Last Word on Cocooning

Death feeds life. Life feeds death. It’s one of the universal laws. Eternal pairs, like coffee and chocolate. Like caterpillars and butterflies.

Until next time,