Why is storytelling important?

by maya on February 11, 2010

In the last few months, our family  focused a lot of time on getting over the death of our doggie the best we can. We had a lot of support in twitter, on facebook and wonderfully helpful responses on my blog post.So first off, thank you for that.

My husband and  I were a little concerned for our girls and my other dog, Iris. We took the advice of friends who told us about the “Other side of the rainbow” and “Doggie heaven”. We made up a story so we could actually talk about Charlie at home. Charlie is now in doggie heaven – playing with the other dogs. He is a shiny star that will not come back home, but we CAN go out and say hello to him at night. And that is what we do. As a family. We say good night to Charlie and give each other a Charlie hug.

And guess what? It makes ME feel better too. The story. The hug. The thoughts.

Last week, I co-led a workshop called HerStory with Aliza Sherman. You can look at our posterous notes here.  As all of us worked on the exercises and shared our stories, the emotions got intense in the room. We connected with each other at a number of levels and when the workshop was done we all had a special bond – simply because of our shared stories. My whole conference experience was completely different as a result of opening up to a few women with my stories.

I have said it so many times before and yet, one more time, I am in awe. I  am in awe as to how powerful a story can be – to build relationships, to sell stuff, to win people over ….

When and where do we tell stories

A story that I made up for my kids has affected me so profoundly. I still think of my dog every single day – several times. I replay his last few hours over and over again. But then, I always end by thinking of him as a shiny star and a happy dog, frolicking in heaven ! My heart is still heavy but the pain is lesser.

Telling the story of my own life and hearing the stories of others has helped me connect to SO many other women – and SO many other entrepreneurs.

Stories are SO incredibly powerful. A lot of life is about learning to tell the right stories and tell them well … no matter who we are talking to or what goal we need to accomplish. And honestly, we have all the tools we could possibly have today – blogs, email, video, twitter – you name it!

  • MARKETING: Selling in businesses/marketing is about telling the buyer a story that matters to him/her
  • COMMUNITY : Making friends and connections is about sharing stories that connect the two people
  • PARENTING : Making a child understand the importance of something is all about crafting the right story. I use this trick all the time – finding the right emotion, lesson and story to move my kids, make them think is a key skill I am still working on.
  • SELF-IMPROVEMENT / INSPIRATION : As a child, I was always inspired to hear stories of women who made it big. Even today, I am always on the lookout for stories of people who have made it through the path that I am on at the present.

How do you use stories in life and business? Have you been surprised by how stories have affected you?

  • http://SourcesOfInsight.com/ J.D. Meier

    I'm very sorry to hear about your dog … pets are like family.

    Stories do help us make meaning and I think it's empowering when we find stories that help us make the most of any situation.

  • ankurk

    i have always loved reading/listening to stories on indian mythology .. they were the building blocks of my learning as a child, and i am now realising the importance and relevance of those values/lessons in my daily life.

  • thinkmaya

    Thanks for leaving a comment JD! Hope you are well.

    Yeah, it is almost like the mind needs stories to make sense of all of life that overwhelms us right?

  • thinkmaya

    Yeah, stories of Indian mythology was something I did not get at all growing up – just what I read when I got older. Now, I am hearing all stories from my husband – he is like a treasure chest of stories full of Indian mythology. My kids are lucky – they already know Bhima :)

  • ankurk

    cool.. your kids are lucky.. make them read the 'amar chitra katha' series.. kids usually love them if narrated properly :P i have loads of books on these.. you can download videos of ramayana and mahabharata (the original ones by ramanand sagar and B.R.CHOPRA respectively) from YOUTUBE.

    my childhood favourite is :- the laxman vs. indrajit combat .. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PALvq2II7JM) …

    enjoy.. tc.

  • ddkays

    Stories allow you to tell people how it happens and what it does to you…then, it becomes more real for them as well.

  • ddkays

    Your greatest hurt in your life can be your greatest testimony. Sharing how God brings us through things is powerful. Share your story! Story is powerful.

  • Teresa_0222

    I agree, storytelling is very powerful. For me, in work or in life, stories serve as bridges to establishing relationships and connections. By telling stories in different situations about my life and everything else I could appropriately bring to the table, I’m able to share part of myself to them and likewise. This helps us become more open to each other and helps make the daily dynamics easier.

    I love stories! I thrive in them which is why I always look forward to hearing or learning good ones from people, books, movies and just about anywhere. :-)

    P.S. Click on http://budurl.com/7jdf and see how an inspiring story could come from an unexpected source.

  • http://twitter.com/KodakCommunity Shruti Goradia

    You are so right about the power of stories, I feel connected to you inspite of the fact that I only virtually met you yesterday! I am sorry to hear about Charlie. As adults we seldom use simple ways of coping with life's complicated situations. Your simple (and imaginative) solution for your kid is helping you deal with a loss that is so profound. Say Hi to Charlie for me tonight as well – through your story I have learnt a very important lesson.
    Shruti

  • http://www.motivmode.com Lydia Fernandes

    Stories are incredibly powerful, I agree! From a business perspective, it does help an entrepreneur make an emotional connection with their audience, which is why personal branding is becoming increasingly popular. But what I really like about women sharing their story is the impact it can make on other women. So much of what we go through – our personal and professional challenges and “a-ha moments” – serve as incredible learning tools to other women. If you are interested in how women are already sharing their stories to serve as virtual role models, you might want to check out the Hot Mommas Project at http://www.hotmommasproject.org. It is the world's largest online library of professional role models for women and girls. Women sharing their story to help other women. I lead the Canadian arm of the project and am a founding case author as well.

    I'll also add that the process of writing one's story is very enlightening and therapeutic. Sometimes we go through life and never really stop to think about who we are and the impact we have already made. The writing process helps to bring so much about yourself to the forefront, and you can begin to see common themes and links interwoven throughout. I certainly know it did for me!

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