When were you last moved by a story? And why were you moved? Think about the last movie you watched or book you read.
The power of personal narrative and storytelling is an untapped skill in many organizations.
In my career at Harvard Business Publishing, I heard many stories from faculty members like Bryant University’s Professor Michael Roberto. His Mount Everest case study contained emotional, real-life stories where high-stakes decisions had to be made — on the top of Mount Everest. I remember this case study in particular because of the power of the story, the emotion and the journey the characters were forced to take, not the end result.
We remember stories like this because they strike an emotional chord — they move you, they grab your emotions. The stories of courage, perseverance against the odds, adversity with an underdog, or testing fate are the ones we all remember. Whether stories are told in person, on a movie screen, or in your local newspaper, these types of stories hit a nerve because they are emotionally universal.
I’ve heard many personal stories from former clients about how they changed their own practice of leadership management and found storytelling inspiring for themselves and for others.
Share your story.
The challenge, however, is that many of us keep our stories to ourselves. To really inspire others, break through limiting beliefs, build trust, and influence across your network, you have to move from the “I” in your narrative to the “we.” You do this by communicating, sharing information, and architecting a story to share with others to inspire the masses. I’m not saying you need to be able to tell a TEDx story today, but that’s the general idea or direction we all need to go.
The reality is that we all have those talk tracks in our head — those “I” stories we repeatedly tell ourselves and share with others. Today’s modern storytelling — as seen on any TEDx or YouTube video — is a revered art and science. It takes a proactive leader and a mind shift to move from “I” stories to “we” to evoke emotions, engage others, and spark behavioral change — not just on your own bedside table.
Leaders need cultures of storytelling.
As leaders, we work with all levels of an organization and know learning experiences must be intended for everyone in your organization. To truly transform cultures you need a diversity of thinking, multigenerational experiences, creativity, and critical thinking skills to solve real-world challenges — problems your organization faces each day, week, month, and year.
As you think about 2020 and upcoming business outcomes and initiatives, think about how you can create a story arc and a grand narrative to inspire others. Remember, it’s not about your personal narrative, not as a “sage on the stage,” but as a “guide on the side.” Tell stories with a human element, and put people at the center and purpose of shared experiences.
Consider these questions as you craft your story:
- What’s inspiring about this story? What makes that inspiring?
- What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of?
- Resilience through uncertainty and change? What?
- What purpose does this personal story or burning belief serve? What does it teach and how will it inspire others?
Questions like these will help you connect your story to your audience’s and give others the vision they’re hoping for.
How can you spark emotions and inspire others to change — to help solve your organization’s real-world problems for 2020?
Join the conversation on LinkedIn Thursday and Friday, January 23rd and 24th, 2020
Facilitated by Ben Soares, Sr. Director of Business Development at the Lake Forest Center for Leadership.
Click Here to join the discussion on LinkedIn.