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The power of a story

Stories are powerful. They inform, inspire and empower. They help us make sense of the world – as children and as adults. As a marketer I knew that it was the story that would lift a communication off the page (or screen) and into someone’s heart.

But the most powerful stories are the ones we tell ourselves, about who we are and about our place in the world.

Stories are a short cut. Following a well-worn narrative trail is easy for us. It allows us to quickly make sense of a situation and fit it into an understanding of the world.

Stories are seductive. They can become so ingrained in how we perceive ourselves and the world around us that it becomes difficult to step back and ask ourselves: “is this true?”

What stories do you tell yourself?

“I’m having a really tough time and Abi hasn’t spoken to me in weeks. She doesn’t care at all.”

“I’m not the sort of person who gets promoted. It’s always loud, confident types.”

“Everything always goes wrong for me. There’s no point in trying.”

How often do you question those stories? Do you just accept them the same way you accept that the hero will save the day, the love birds will end up together and the villain will suffer?

Do you get hooked into them?

Real life rarely fits into the neat beginning, middle and end structure that is so satisfying. You are only the protagonist in your own stories, not those of other people. And if you have a tendency to be hard on yourself, it’s easy for that to shape your understanding of every situation.

Ask yourself:

· When did I start telling this story? Why?

· Is it true? What are the facts?

· What might be an alternative narrative?

“Abi is really busy and hasn’t been in touch because she assumes all is well. If I want to talk to her, I should reach out.”

“There’s more than one way to lead, and I have a lot to offer.”

“I’ve overcome all the challenges I’ve met so far, and I have all the skills I need to meet the next challenge.”

Don’t let a negative narrative hook you in – make sure you tell yourself your positive stories too.

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