Tell me. Have you ever listened to a story teller? Someone who can take words and weave them in to something enchanting, something mesmerising that draws you in and engages you, maybe engages your whole being?
Story is the one thing that can hold a humans’ attention for hours. Nobody can look away from a good story.
Even if you don’t realise, you have been engaged, many times, because stories are used in numerous varying areas of our culture. Told well stories can become powerful tools to enable ends to be realised. Stories can define events and their outcome. An unsavoury event can be turned into a heroic occasion if told the right way and become far more memorable than the cold hard facts. Indeed a practiced story teller can even empty the facts and fill them with fresh content. Events can be reinterpreted or, to use a current term, events can be “spun” to make sure we understand them as the teller wishes us to. Goodness, we even have spin doctors employed to ensure events are delivered favourably for those who have an invested interest in the outcome.
Those who tell the stories rule the society.
Why stories? Because we are wired to receive them and remember stories. There’s plenty of research to support this. Unlike a film or tv documentary a story allows us wide scope to interpret what we hear. If we have no ready images to consume then our minds set to work creating them from our own catalogue of experiences. If an actress isn’t playing our a particular reaction for us then we interpret and experience it from our own experiences. We are drawn in and it becomes personal. Stories have an uncanny act of meeting us where we are and endeavour to take us to where the teller wants us to be.
In times gone by story was the best medium for passing information from generation to generation. Certain texts we have today were stories long before they were committed to writing and so we should understand that the recorded account is the writers engagement with the story teller. Two sets of emotions are in play, two agendas maybe, even two different cultures.
The question is then, what can we believe? What is reliable? That’s where the rub comes. No one tells better stories than political parties, but then who believes them? If I was sceptical I would say that the news is often told as stories to make us believe certain things about events. But then, I’m no sceptic.
Stories build trust, drive sales, create loyalty, increase influence.
Is it time to ask more questions? Are you and I bold enough to dismiss presuppositions passed on to us? It’s easy to run with the crowd and the crowd can become a mob if listening to the wrong story teller.
We’ve all seen this happen in many places. On the street where the police must act. In schools where a story label’s someone. Religious groups who are dependant on stories to provide their texts and authority, and the story teller reads into and out of those texts.
A good story teller is a powerful person with power to influence a wider circle. The best influence generations across the world. Understand that when you speak and then join me in telling better stories that build up instead of tearing down. Tell stories underpinned by truth, spoken quietly. The truth possess its own force and in telling it you might just be releasing a beautiful thing.
Yours, trying to release a beautiful thing,