One tradition that we’ve kept alive at Code School for years is storytime. The idea of it is simple. When a group of 4-8 of us are together someone starts things off by asking a question. Then, we go around the group each taking the time to answer it with a story. We’ve shared stories many times – over cocktails at bars, while at developer conferences, in hot tubs at company retreats and around fires on the beach.
The important part of storytime is that everyone involved is fully invested. When someone is sharing their story, it’s important to be a listener and not take over the stage. Let people tell their story and ask questions until they are done.
Once one person is finished telling their story and there are no more remaining questions, another person can chime up and begin their story. If some people in the group are quiet, take the opportunity to ask them the same question. Some people do better when prompted rather than speaking up in a group, but once they get going many people love it.
These questions could be anything – serious, fun, character building, deep. As you get to know people and the group opens up, you can pick more personal questions.
- What was your first job?
- What’s your favorite trip you’ve ever been on?
- What was your favorite meal of all time?
- What was your worst date?
- What was a time you got in trouble as a kid?
- What kind of person were you in high school?
- If you could live anywhere, where would you want to live?
- What was the happiest day of your life?
- What was the most difficult obstacle you’ve ever faced?
- Who has been your biggest inspiration in life?
- What’s a moment where you felt the most euphoric?
I love this last one. It’s my absolute favorite one to get to, but I’ve found it’s not the best one to kick off the conversation on. Knowing what brings people this level of joy is enables a connection that’s not possible with just hallway chit-chat.
My Moment Where I Felt Most Euphoric
When I was in middle school, my family and I took a trip down to the Florida Keys. We were all good swimmers and my dad scheduled a ship to take us out on a snorkeling trip to a reef far offshore. The ship itself was magnificent – sailboat with multiple masts and only our family of 5. We sailed out to the reef and my sister and I jumped in the 12-foot deep water.
Even though we were far offshore, the water was still luke-warm. We began swimming around and checking out the abundance of life surrounding the reef which stretched on as far as we could see. Most of the fish inhabiting the reef were small – Parrotfish, Angelfish, Tuna and much more and in more colors than I could name.
While floating along the surface watching a school of parrotfish nip at the reef far below, I noticed something in my peripheral vision – an extremely large fish feet away alongside me on the surface. I turned and looked back, trying not to scare off whatever was there and saw a school of dozens of 6ft long tarpon all swimming in the same direction as me.
I stopped swimming immediately and took in the power of the moment. The temperature of the water, the feeling of weightlessness and the awe of nature granting me this experience. The school slowly passed us by as I watched it recede into the distance.
It was an amazing moment that sparked my appreciation of nature in its pristine state from an early age – an appreciation I hold dear today. Knowing this was something that made me feel this way makes it easier for me to look for similar situations today.
What’s a moment where you felt the most euphoric?