Why your story now?

It’s common knowledge that we humans are wired for storytelling.

Stories help us to weave together the diversity of our experiences and ideas, facts and information, to make sense of our past, present and future.

Story reflection image

Here are three reasons why your story is so important, now more than ever.

Who again & why?

Are you relying on all those awesome things you do to speak for themselves? Wizzbang website and socials look super, figures and facts can be important and impressive, but of course we are all navigating an immense internet of wizzbang important things that compete for our attention and money. Too often what we offer can be overlooked or forgotten, or we miss opportunities to deeply connect and provide value.

Your story is absolutely unique. Storytelling helps us connect human-to-human to transmit values, ideas and purpose, to motivate action and long be remembered. It will magnetise your pitch, your introductory blurb, your presentations, and the complex information you seek others to understand. Great stories enrich that ole KLTC (know, like, trust + connection) factor to build rapport across the www.

As Seth Godin, bestselling author and altMBA founder, writes in ‘This is Marketing’,

“People are waiting for you. They just don’t know it yet. They’re waiting for the edge that you will stake out, the one they can imagine but don’t expect. They’re waiting for the connection you will offer. The ability to see and be seen. They’re waiting for the tension of the possible, the ability to make things better.”

Linked here are some inspiring Australians across a range of creative and entrepreneurial fields, all sharing rich insights, clarity and purpose through their stories.* A handful of so many stories resonating with me now as I tune into our culture, broader opportunities and challenges we face, as well as my own arcs of inner growth and fears (and yes that ole vulnerability hangover, as expressed so eloquently by Brene Brown).

Even if you are humble about your virtuosity or feel a bit too beige or small, practise telling your tale. Play with stories and styles - in low-stakes settings with your friends and with strangers, upping the ante with people you work with, even simply video-recording to your smartphone - to find out what works and what may ring hollow or feel outgrown.

Storytelling gets so much easier and more effective with practice and clear intention. If you want to know how and why, here are some handy insights and tools I designed to help you get started. (And while video is currently lauded as one of the most effective online tool, there are infinite approaches to storytelling and will be sharing some narrative frameworks in future posts - your queries always welcome)

You have enthralling experiences, hard-won lessons and profound gifts for the right people at the right time. Tell your story with purpose and panache!

It’s time to rewrite our narratives

Stories do not define you or others, but they can if we let them.

We can choose and create stories that serve us well.

As individuals, with compassionate awareness and support from those we trust, we can identify and release unhelpful stories. There are often stories we hold close that limit or hurt us, that keep us safe or have outlived their usefulness. They may have been handed down to us by family and peers, or be wider cultural narratives that play out across our society for better and worse - our stories are countless and well beyond the scope of this little post.

Consciously choose your own adventure with equanimity and courage. Welcome transformation, joy and success, along with the grit and challenges that sharpen your growth. These chapters empower you and others.

Let’s now play a role in rewriting our shared stories too. We don’t know the happy ending or indeed the answer to problems at hand.

Cathedral thinkingis a priority Greta Thunberg demands, of adults and leaders around the globe now, to avoid climate breakdown:

“We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling. Sometimes we just simply have to find a way. The moment we decide to fulfil something, we can do anything.”

I confess to being an optimist - believing that we can create solutions, enjoy meaningful existence, make positive impact with business and reframe growth sustainably. While I have long championed storytelling, it’s what we do with our stories that counts.

 

It’s time to connect & together solve problems we all face

As Jacinda Arden, New Zealand’s Prime Minister and one the world’s most respected leaders today, made clear at the UN in September 2018:

“we must rediscover our shared belief in the value, rather than the harm, of connectedness… Our actions have a global effect… Me Too must become We Too. We are all in this together”.

Jacinda spoke with hope and audacity in challenging times, calling for collective action and multilateralism, to address climate change, human rights and equality for women. She asserted the importance of Kaitiakitanga - guardianship for the next generations - and simple human kindness. Her powerful words were even more resonant, as of only ## female heads of state, and the first to be accompanied by her young baby and caring partner to the to the UN assembly.

With respect, Jacinda opened her speech in Te Reo Māori, the language of the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand. With pride and good humour, she went on to share a glimpse of her own background and the strength of her heritage - isolated but far from insular:

“I am a child of the 80’s. A period in New Zealand’s history where we didn’t just observe international events, we challenged them. Whether it was apartheid in South Africa, or nuclear testing in the Pacific, I grew up learning about my country and who we were, by the way that we reacted to international events. Whether it was taking to the streets or changing our laws, we have seen ourselves as members of a community, and one that we have a duty to use our voice within.”

More recently and heartbreakingly, Jacinda gave this memorial speech to New Zealand and the global community. With gravitas and hope, she acknowledges when words fail and we must listen, for healing and honouring our community, and together discovering the cure for racism.

We may not all be political leaders or in the public eye, but our voice and actions matter.

We may not all have experienced prejudice or suffering based on our gender, race or beliefs, but we are part of local and global communities that are trembling with the effects of such violence and systemic injustice. We may feel small or hopeless at the pace of climate change and our struggles to acknowledge, let alone solve, such very real problems our civilisation faces.

Not only do we help others understand us, with purposeful storytelling we are compelled to listen deeply to others. To acknowledge our assumptions and privileges, with respect and sensitivity. Across cultures and ideologies, generations and technologies, those that are hopeful and those that hurt.

Whether innovating and selling solutions, enabling growth within and beyond us, educating or motivating change, or creating new ways to engage with our world, we must appreciate who our stories are for.

Purposeful storytelling helps us to speak up & to listen deeply, to be and act together.


With appreciation and respect to all the storytellers I've linked to here - entrepreneurs, artists, innovators, visionaries, leaders & changemakers including Wanda Gibson @magpiegoose.nt , C3West @mca_australia , Melanie Perkins @canva , Stefan Hunt @wereallgoingto , Michael Mieni, the Anderson family @flowhive , as well as Greta Thunberg and Jacinda Ardern 🙌 I’ve embedded their videos and shared links here, rather than capturing stills or highlights, sincerely and simply so their voices, stories and views are expressed as they intended, and to allow you to find out more from them directly.

I'd love to hear your story too, and those tales that are moving you! Do connect if you'd like to chat purposeful storytelling…

Kathryn Gray