The Impact of Sharing Your Story
One thing that connects every human is that we each have a story to tell. Many of us are fortunate enough to have multiple chapters. But no matter how young or old, we are rich with details of our lives, challenges, triumphs, world view and passions.
The art of storytelling began long ago in our earliest records of cave drawings. “The oldest figurative art — the mystery animal that is likely a species of wild cattle that once stomped around the jungles of Borneo — was at least 40,000 years old,” according to LiveScience and archeologist Maxime Aubert. [https://www.livescience.com/64034-oldest-figurative-cave-art.html]
Research indicates some drawings even predate 38000BC – connecting humans over countless millennia through ancient storytelling conveyed by simple art.
Traditions of passing on the shared human experience vary widely, while their purpose converges around the central themes of connection, communication and preservation. The craft of storytelling historically began with simple pictures, before expanding to rich oral traditions that passed stories down person-to-person, then finally evolving into written stories. No matter the format, shared stories have the power to evoke deep emotions within listeners, depending on to the degree to which the story is relatable.
No narrative about storytelling would be complete without acknowledging Joseph Campbell’s contributions in outlining the archetypical master story, which he called The Hero’s Journey, or “the one great story of mankind.” Born of Campbell’s lifelong research into mythic tradition and storytelling history, a hero’s journey contains common elements or themes which can be readily applied to anyone’s story, making it immediately relatable to readers.
Also, storytelling is incredibly effective: “Fewer than 10% of Americans can name a justice that sits on our country’s highest court, but pretty much everyone knows the story of Robin Hood and can name at least three or four characters.’”
How does this apply to business?
In business, stories are told by you, about you and about your brand – constantly. In fact, the sum of these stories comprises the DNA of a business. No matter your intention, your business will ultimately be judged by the story customers tell others, and negative online reviews are one painful and extreme indicator that the collective story is not good. It’s hard to underestimate the power of storytelling when we all know a single bad review can create doubt in the minds of potential customers – even when 99% of your transactions are flawless.
Bottom line: people want to be heard, seen, connected and know that they matter. Storytelling does all of this by engaging readers, involving them and giving them something more than what they started with. Use the benefits of storytelling to strengthen your relationships and nurture communications with clients and anyone else who is critical to your success!
Four main benefits of storytelling include:
Passion- We crave stories of deep emotion, passionate experience and deep conviction. Give your passion a life of its own by sharing it with others.
Perspective– As Theodore Roosevelt says, “comparison is the thief of joy.” Yet we all have a natural tendency to compare. Your story can and will provide a constructive and unique perspective for others to learn from you and gain something from your authentic experiences. You never know who is watching and who may be inspired.
Power– Inner strength is nourished by a feeling of belonging and worthiness. Your story will give others power in two ways. First, the natural connection when they can relate to you, which makes them feel they are not alone. Second, they may garner the power to change something in their lives simply by hearing about your example. If you can do it, so can they!
Permission– Finally, sharing your story will grant others permission to be exactly the way they are, to feel what they feel, to succeed, to hurt, to want, and to shine. What an amazing facet of being human – our ability to build each other up by telling the truth: the good, the bad and the ugly!
Take time to celebrate your story by spotlighting it orally, in writing, through artwork, and more. Sharing your personal or brand story is a gift you can give others. In fact, it is the greatest gift we can share with total strangers, who then have the opportunity to become part of our family. No matter what has been already said or done, there is someone somewhere who needs to hear your story.
As you embark on the next phase and consider sharing, please know that there will be many people who stay silent but who nevertheless appreciate you and your honesty. Perhaps you will encounter one or two critics who make a living trying to silence others, and to those cynics I refer my favorite Theodore Roosevelt quote. Why does the world need to hear your story? Because YOU are in the arena!
The Man in the Arena
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” -Theodore Roosevelt