Thursday, May 14, 2009

Telling Stories

The way we think of our lives and how we fit into the world is in the form of stories. That’s why narrative is so powerful, it taps into the essence of how we think about being human. Most of us have a subconscious narrative that runs through our lives, whose power we may not even realize. If you can tap into that narrative, understand what your story is, then you have the power to change it! Its like lucid dreaming. The power of a lucid dream is that you suddenly realize you are sleeping and you have the power to modify the dream in ways you hadn't previously realized were possible. Likewise, if you are conscious of your internal story you have leverage to change your life in ways that may not have seemed possible before.

Once you understand your own narrative, what’s to stop you from learning others? If you can get a glimpse of someone else’s story then you can gain a deeper understanding of their perspectives, their priorities, and their motivations. People can be motivated by a wide variety of things (money, approval, achievement, etc). Understanding someone’s internal narrative can help you tap into their values and motivations in powerful ways!

Finally, you can use narrative and story to get your points across and share your perspective. Try this exercise sometime. Try to convince someone with plain facts and data and then try to convince them with a story that explains where you are coming from and how their decision or actions fit into that story. Which is more effective? By sharing stories not only can you get understanding you get the chance to modify your own understanding, your own story, as a result of the interaction.