“In the particular is contained the universal.”
We tell stories to create connection. We create connection because it builds trust. We build trust so that we can rely on one another. We rely on one another because we don’t – even on our most selfish, ego-bound days – want to go it alone.
Most of all, we tell stories because they remind us that our humanity is not only shared, but bound up together, inextricably linked for all time.
One of the most glaring mistakes of modern corporate leadership is the use of metrics to motivate performance.
“Our vision for the coming year? To make a gajillion dollars!!”
Do everyone a favor. Tell a story instead.
Of course, we all want the gajillion dollars (and for it to be equitably and appropriately shared) and all of the opportunity it creates, but that will never replace the boring, predictable and completely fundamental human need to be a part of something larger than ourselves; to be part of a story that is worth the telling.
Leaders, be boring. Learn to tell a story.
I was here, and you were here,
and together we made a world.
If you tell me your story, I will tell you mine.
From that small, open place we will take steps that help us to know one another. Through our disclosure we will build trust, and from that trust we will experience the reinforcement of connection.
I will only learn about myself, which means that I will only learn how to walk in this world, through my relationship with you.
When I resist I do so because I don’t want to be reminded of what I don’t yet know. When I resist I am bound by the seduction of the status quo, refusing to yield to the certainty of change.
When I engage I do so because you help me to remember that my initial discomfort holds the seeds of my future wisdom.
Tell me your story, and I will tell you mine.
I’m very interested in public speaking. I enjoy doing it and I enjoy listening to a great speaker. It’s a wonderful, even essential skill to develop for anyone who wants to have more influence, for those who wish to lead.
To that end, for those aspiring to increase their influence through public speaking, I’d like to suggest that you develop three talks of differing lengths; 10, 25 and 45 minutes.
Your 10-minute talk is one big idea supported by one story.
Your 25-minute talk is one big idea supported by two stories.
Your 45-minute talk is one big idea supported by two stories plus 5-7 minutes of audience conversation about how they feel about what you’ve been saying (because no one wants to sit for 45 minutes without a chance to talk…about themselves) and 5-7 more minutes devoted to their sharing of what they just said.
Two takeaways: first, you deliver one big idea, and only one big idea. Second, your talk isn’t about you, it’s about them. The longer you have to speak the more space you should create for your audience to do so.
DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.
You can write any story you want to today. You can write it on this sprawling empty canvas and watch as it fills with the wind that carries you into your new reality.
As long as you continue the narrative the sail remains full, stretching outward and upward against a perfect sky, your boat true to that heading.
Whatever story you write, the sail will fill and pull the boat of your experience in the direction you choose.
You can write any story you want to today.
What will you write?
DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.