"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Friday, August 18, 2006

Bucket-filler or Pipe-builder: Storytelling Debate

I was introduced to the terms "bucket-filler" and "pipe-builder" from Cevin Ormond, who is part of the company Teambuilder. Over a week ago, he told a story--something that always catches my attention--and I am still thinking about it.

I admit that I do not remember the exact names, as this often results from the oral tradition. Cevin said he found this story by the author Robert Kiyosaki. I am sharing what I remember or at least what images came to my mind while being told this story:

Upon a lovely island was a group of thirsty people. Each one of these people had to wake up with the sun so that they could draw water from the spring that was miles away. The day was far spent by the time people had received their fill of water. Their arms were so sore that nothing else could be done upon the island.

Two villagers thought how they could help their people. Let us name them Phil and Tom.

Phil dug a pit in the middle of the village and lined it with stones. The next morning, before even the sun awoke, Phil took a couple buckets to the spring. He filled the buckets with water, walked the many miles to the pit, emptied the buckets of water in the pit, and headed to the spring again.

By the time the other villagers awoke, there was a nice reserve of water. Phil offered the water to the people for a price and the villagers gladly paid it.

Meanwhile, Tom watched. Most of the time, Tom kept to his home. This went on for a year. Perhaps it was two years. By this time, Phil made so much profit from filling his buckets with water and emptying them in the pit that he was the wealthiest man on the island.

Then came the day that Tom made an announcement. "I will charge half the amount that Phil charges for water!"

Phil looked around and laughed. Where was Tom's reserve of water? Then Tom turned a knob and out of some pipes spilled forth water. Tom had built pipes underground that led from the spring to the village.

The villagers cheered as they could get water whether it was day or night and for a lower price than charged by Phil.

Phil grumbled under his breath and then had his wife help carry buckets to keep up with Tom's supply. Then he had all seven children carry buckets of water. Phil slashed his prices and only slept four hours every night. While Phil and his family labored, Tom laid in his hammock and watched as the money rolled in.

In fact, Tom had so much time on his hands that he built pipes in other neighboring islands.

To this day, Phil and his family continue to fill buckets, and their grumblings can still be heard throughout the island.

Now that you have the story of the bucket-filler and the pipe-builder, who do you think you are? The bucket-filler or the pipe-builder? Why?

If you answered that you are a bucket-filler, then understand that most people--maybe as many as 95% of people--are bucket-fillers.

As a professional storyteller, I create relationships with many types of people, most likely those who have the ability to hire me or those who know who has the ability to hire me. I am contracted to tell at a specific time at a specific place for a specific people. After I perform, what happens? If all I do is go home, then I have been a bucket-filler.

Recently, I have built an email list of Utah storytellers and story appreciators so that about twice a month I provide events that involve local storytelling events that are open to the public. I list more than the events that I am personally involved in. Could this possibly be one way to be a pipe-builder? Why or why not?

I would hope that the people who read the emails would trust me as a storytelling resource. This trust may lead to future performances and workshops.

I am still wondering what would be pipe-building opportunities as a storyteller. I welcome any comments or ideas on this topic.

When in doubt, we can always ask Cevin Ormond what he thinks. You can email him at Tconcept@mail.xmission.com or call him at 801- 280-8365.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799

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