My son loves stories. He is always demanding that we read or tell him a story every night before he goes to bed. We are all storytelling animals. We make sense of the world via stories. Even when we are asleep, our dreams unfold as stories. The world like my son is eager for good stories. This is because stories have the ability not just to entertain but also to transform us.
Good stories connect the storyteller and the audience. They engage the intellectual and emotional aspects of the brain. A good storyteller draws his audience into his story – his world.
One of the most important stories is the autobiographical story or the personal narrative. The ‘who I am’ story. We all have personal stories. The autobiographical narrative is a combination of our past, present and desired future. These are the stories which we use to communicate our essence to others.
People need to know who you are before they are willing to follow you. They need to know if your story aligns with their own stories. You can only reveal who you are through telling and living your personal story.
Barack Obama rose to power on the strength of his storytelling skills. His 2004 Democratic National Convention (DNC) speech launched him from a relatively unknown Chicago politician into a rising national political star destined for greatness.
His personal narrative enabled him to connect with both blacks and whites in America. He shared his life story as the son of a Kansas white woman and a Kenyan black man during his 2008 presidential campaign. He used his autobiographical story as medium to tell the voters that ‘I am one of you and you can relate to me. We have similar goals and aspirations.’ His story resonated with the electorate and they voted for him despite his limited leadership experience.
What is your own story and how you are using it to connect with others?