When spring arrived in my home town my great-grandfather would go out for long walks. He’d put on his suit, take his hat and his wooden walking stick and gently stroll along the avenida to the park. Once there, he’d sit on a bench and wait for somebody to start a conversation. He was a natural communicator and storyteller.
I would sometimes find him slowly walking back home. We’d talk about the day, and he’d tell me about the people he’d met and the conversations he’d had. Once he started telling me about a young man he’d met in the park who, like him, had also lived in Cuba. I asked him how old the young man was, and he told me that he was 80.
I said “That’s not young! That’s old!”
But he said “Not to me, I’m 103. He’s a kid.”
Life is always matter of perspective. Are we looking at things with the eyes of a 20-year-old or a 103-year-old? When we’re searching for stories to connect with our audience how are we looking? What lenses are we wearing?
If you think your business stories can only talk about success, how you beat the competition, or how you increased your turnover by 40 per cent in just a year, you’re probably missing the most interesting ones.
Who are your customers becoming because they’ve found you? How are their lives better? What is your contribution to the good that is currently happening to them? These subtle differences can only be told with a story. Think about peace of mind, joy, meaning and fulfilment. These qualities are better described as a story.
If you only listen to stories that match and confirm your current product or service description, you aren’t going deep enough to understand why your customers choose you and what makes you unique.
Storytelling starts with being open to listening with curiosity and with the certain knowledge that we need to understand from others how our products and services are impacting the world. Sometimes the best stories are the ones that find us.