We’re story driven beings. From the beginning, stories have been told to pass on vital information.
Somewhere along the line we’ve moved from influential stories to basic facts. And basic facts don’t capture our imagination quite like a great story.
We know leadership is really influence. Influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
And there’s no better way to influence someone than by telling better stories.
Stories have a way of soaking deep into our subconscious. Implanting the narrative, readying it for quick retrieval when we need it.
How Story Works
Myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human manifestation.
— Joseph Campbell
When we tell stories, it gives the listener to gain a new perspective. A great story will bring the abstract into focus. Story allows us to see through a different lens.
Why does it do this? It’s because we’re drawn to story. Story makes sense of the world. Our right brains are engaged and new connections are made.
Many businesses are moving to a story based model because they know it works. A great example of this is the fashion company Love 41.
Their business is selling jewelry, apparel, and accessories. I know because I’ve purchased a beautiful necklace for my wife from their website.
Now, their business is a simple one. Someone makes the jewelry and they sell it. Simple story right? Not so with Love 41. They took their story seriously and crafted a wonderful narrative about the creation of their business. Here’s a sample –
Thoughts began to flood my mind as I sat awake for hours, night after night. And after much prayer, I began focusing on where I might be strong or gifted. Since I was a little girl, I’ve always had a knack for being fashionable and dressing my friends up to be fashionable too. And, for those of you who don’t know me, it doesn’t take me long to decide what I like. I picked my wedding dress out in 15 minutes. I quickly realized what I needed to do. The light bulb went off in my head. That was it! An internet retail business that reflected who I was and what I liked. It seemed like an easy decision to start a company that aligned with my talents and I realized I was born with gifts that could be used in a major way. Because I wanted to make this business personal and authentic, I decided you’ll never see anything on the site I don’t wear.
This story drew me in and made me want to purchase from them. And that I did.
Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.
— Barry Lopez
Why You Should Tell A Better Story
Stories help us make sense of our surroundings. They bring reason to an insane world. They ground us. They influence us.
Think of a movie that has moved you. Maybe it was the heart wrenching story in the Pixar movie UP! Or maybe it was the story of John Rambo and how he wasn’t welcomed as he searched for a place to stay. The story in these movies hit home.
We can relate to the story in UP! because we have all loved someone. The fear of losing them was made real as we watched the old man’s life and wife pass away. The rejection of Rambo as he walked into the town felt so real because we’ve felt rejection before.
Our senses were touched and it caused a connection. Connection moves us. And that’s what stories are meant to do.
In the end, these stories influenced you in some fashion.
When you tell the story of your business or your mission, craft the story with the intention of creating a connection. Creating the connection will make people feel a part of your mission. And if you’ve told your story well enough, the story will compel them to action.
Start thinking of your story today. Begin crafting the narrative that will cause people to listen to you and take action. And then go, share your story with your team and the world around you.
Question: How has a great story influenced you to take action? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.