You most certainly know the Iceberg Theory . We only see on the surface 10% of its total size.
This means that 90% is invisible to us. Well, the same goes for you and your story.
What you let others see in your verbal and non-verbal communication is certainly only 10% of your personal iceberg. What if I revealed some of the invisible 90% of mine to you?
To introduce myself to you, I will let you make a choice.
It’s up to you – or not, you can read both if you feel like it,
I am Wissame Cherfi, storyteller.
After reading Ronnie Brown’s book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, I decided in 2012 to lay down my job in an American company to pursue one of my dreams: to become a director. I will then spend more than 8 years in auto-entrepreneurs, producing video content for advertising agencies, big brands, companies or entrepreneurs.
I have been a director for almost 8 years now. I have been a storyteller since 2012 but my love for personal stories goes back to my childhood. I already spent a lot of time with older people. I loved listening to their stories, their anecdotes. I was literally transported. And then I learned a lot of things that a kid my age should certainly not know.
I played football for almost 14 years between the ages of 5 and 19. First as a player, I was a goalkeeper. And then as a coach, I had a great experience to pass on to all these kids who shared my passion. It may seem strange to you that I mention it here, but football being a team sport, I learned a lot about group dynamics, motivation, performance research, training, persistence, habits , failures, fears and mental blockages in general.
By finding my job as a director, I also figured out how to use everything I had learned so far. I saw in my ability to tell the stories of strangers on video and by broadcasting them on the internet an exceptional power. I could touch people, give them emotions, transport them. Carry them for a few moments in one or another’s shoes. I instinctively edited my videos. It is by instinct that I work for a lot of things.
One evening in December 2015, I had the need to understand in a practical and concrete way what was hidden behind a successful storytelling. I learned as much as I could about the subject and its scientific explanations, driven by an obsessive desire to understand, learn and improve my art.
And then, by chance which I believe is not one, I launched myself into the preparation of my first documentary film. It was however indicated on my bucket list of 2015, black on white. ” Make a film within 10 years “.
This documentary is a rather incredible story of a Syrian who crossed the Aegean Sea between the Turkish point and the Greek point. While we had filmed the premises of this story in Greece, everything ends abruptly. Big health concerns drive me to give up. Abandon this documentary yes, the idea of making a film in ten years, never.
I now want to focus on transmission. Communicate so that others can understand and perhaps learn from my successes and failures. I have a lot to share, but what I understood about storytelling and its impact is a revelation for me. I started to do it via a podcast called Autour Du Feu, where I tell short stories with hidden morals. Storytelling impacts my habits, my productivity and my mental blockages. I will explain how in the coming months.
If you want to know more about my story, I let you discover the submerged part of my iceberg, the long version (90%) .
Some things cannot be explained.
Since I was 15, people of different ages, origins and social classes come to me and share their personal stories with me. It still happens to me today. On the bus, on the street, at events. They feel comfortable and deliver easily.
It was not until 2012, when I devoted myself to videos, that I realized that I could easily associate this “gift” with my desire to tell moving stories. I even managed to make it my job. Well almost…
For the past seven years, I have pursued a very simple goal: to combine my love of life stories with my active listening skills, to produce powerful and inspiring video content .
Solid as a rock.
During the first 29 years of my life, I rarely went to the doctor, almost never. I felt strong and indestructible.
In May 2015, I set myself a goal: ten years to make a first feature film. It was on my bucket-list, written black on white.
Just one year later, in 2016, I am on the verge of realizing this wish. Much faster than I expected: I have two production companies, a distribution company, a 2D animation company, we also have a part of the technical team for the shooting. All of them follow me to produce an incredible story that looks like a mythological tale, mixing 2D animation and real shots. All the ingredients to make a film are there! Even the poster was ready…
We went to film in Greece, in August 2016, the first images of what was to be a teaser to ‘attract’ TV channels and private contributors. The project constituted a very very high anticipated budget but in my head, nothing could stop this project. Nothing and nobody. And yet…
The most difficult period of my life.
All this preparation stopped abruptly when in March 2017, just after my return from a commercial shoot in Barcelona…
Everything changed that day … A few hours earlier, my wife and I were at the gynecologist, history of find out if her pregnancy was going well. I can still see her little heart beating and our tears flow with joy. A few hours later, I go alone to the doctor. It is formal: I suffer from stage 1 cancer which requires immediate and urgent treatment or risk spreading quickly to other parts of my body. I still remember the way on foot to get home… Endless… And the tears running, anger, fear…
The documentary feature film project had to be obviously suspended for several months so that I could concentrate on my health protocol. After these few months of forced rest, I could not produce any written documents that were really worth anything. I had to resolve myself, I was not ready yet, I had to focus on myself and my family again.
Life takes its course, I resume my activity as a director in July 2017, I find new clients and then we decide to leave Ireland after 8 years, a need to change the air … The exams showed new tasks at level of the right lung. They were stable but had to be monitored. When I arrive in France, I find an oncologist who follows my file. And then…
In June 2018, an assessment confirms the reappearance of cancer on the lungs this time. I had no other choice than to make four cycles of chemotherapy (almost 4 months) and a fairly heavy operation in November 2018 in order to remove metastases and cancerous residues.
The past two years have been very complicated. In all, I needed to refocus on my family, my friends, me. I no longer wanted to film.
Any such illness makes you aware of your mortality.
It is a fact that we forget when we are under 30 and that we feel invincible. This ordeal allowed me to open my eyes to certain harmful things that I had to change in my life. My procrastination, my stress management, my eating routine, my limiting beliefs, certain fears or certain toxic relationships are the perfect example.
I come out growing from these trials, I can now say that my mind is foolproof … I am no longer sick, I no longer want to be defined as such, I am a survivor and I have a lot to bring to others strong from my experiences.
I lost 30 kg. I changed my eating habits, my stress management and added a weekly exercise routine.
I started meditation. I decided to take care of my body and my mind.
Life has given me a second chance and I intend to take full advantage of it!
My son was born in June 2017, three months after my first surgery. I was lucky to see this little guy laugh, cry, smile, fall and get up a thousand times already. It is good to remember that we have all been there too. That, despite the obstacles, we have overcome them all, one by one. Without asking questions.
But… this is just the beginning. I intend to share with you what I have learned in recent years. I will succeed in achieving my goals, one after the other. I firmly believe that. I’m not afraid anymore.
Do you want to know the good news?
I still have five years to reach one of the objectives of my list of good resolutions for 2015 : ” Make a feature film in 10 years”.
In the meantime, I decided to work differently, to take advantage of all these lessons so that they can be useful to all of you.
Some of these lessons are available via my newsletter .
Thank you for reading a part of my story so far that is just a piece of the submerged part of my iceberg.