Storytelling is a tool used to sharewith our community things we’ve learned and things we value in order to increase common experience and advance our objectives.
Telling stories is a key theme in my work. You can explore work and writing that deals with telling stories here.
The impulse to tell stories is one of our most human capacities and is central to our ability to share knowledge and grow as a whole. Stories allow us to span time, gain from the experiences of others and advocate for a desired action. The better the storytelling, the more wisdom can be transferred and unnecessary effort avoided in the rehashing of previously attempted approaches. It includes everything from the pragmatic “Hey, I know a guy who died after he ate the kind of berry you’re holding” to the culturally binding (and culturally distinguishing) “How was the world created? Well, it all started…”.
Stories move us ahead. Or rather, they move us in a direction. The direction reflects the intention of the teller and advances some agenda, however malignant or benign. The best storytellers move us the most. When we realize this, the value of telling a good story becomes quite clear.
If you are expending energy working towards something — anything — communicating the value of your objective is critical for moving things in your intended direction. It can be easy to skip over and not see the role of storytelling in your work. It can seem like a specialized task someone else should be responsible for, that it’s unnecessary or irrelevant. But the story is what connects people to you and to your efforts. It’s what changes them from bystander, to audience, to stakeholder. It’s what will allow the work you do to go out into the world and live on in the collective knowledge of the people.
And of course, sharing experiences allows us to see and feel the sameness between you and me, them and us. Stories are a vehicle of empathy.
How to tell stories well, is another thing altogether. There are as many ways to tell stories as there are stories themselves.