The Power of Storytelling
From Confucius to Mohammed, from Martin Luther King to Abe Lincoln, it is the stories people remember. These folks used stories for persuasion and understanding. On a practical note, for all of us in business, the point is best made by Seth Godin: “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”
Do you remember some of your days in elementary school? I remember Sister Anita and how she would have us put our heads down in first grade and take a nap. The desk was hard but cool and in Atlanta, in September, it was hot. I also remember running in from the playground, falling, and the children kept running OVER me. To this day, I can still see shoes smashing my little hands as I screamed.
My point is not to conjure up a scary image but rather to make a point: all of our memories come back to us as stories. Good memories. Not-so-good memories. And we make decisions based upon what story our brain tells us. That’s why FACTS aren’t what persuade us but rather the story we tell ourselves about what happens if we take certain actions. I married my precious Bill not because logic dictated he’d be a great husband but rather I had created a story about what life would be like with him. (Thankfully, I crafted a good and true story.)
My job as a teacher and speaker is to craft stories that engage the listeners’ imagination and emotions and ultimately, make a learning point. A “story” can be as simple as a metaphor that carries meaning... “Consider the lilies of the field…” or as obvious as “The Good Samaritan”.
“The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor.”
– Jonathan Haidt