Jim Loehr, of the Human Performance Institute, recently published The Power of Story. It caught my eye because he is a psychologists working with world-class athletes and top business executives, and he’s writing about how influential the stories we use to explain ourselves are — both to ourselves and others.
That concept is also big in communication studies, it’s sometimes called “myth,” but the idea is the same: how you explain what is happening in your life becomes your personal life story. Your story can help you, or not. A story is also tool used by others to persuade you to join their cause.
Here’s an excerpt from Loehr’s book:
It’s not just individuals who tell stories about themselves; groups do it, too. Nations and religions an universities and sports teams and political parties and labor unions each tell stories about themselves to capture the imagination of their constituencies. Companies tell their stories to engage their customers and, increasingly, their workforce, stories which must be internally consistent and power if they’re to succeed over time. The Starbucks story: Our home is your home away from home, a place where strangers are transformed into member of a community; to give our story integrity and durability, we aim to treat all our people, from customer to employees to independent coffee-growers around the world, with equal dignity and respect (9).
For thousands of years everything important was communicated through stories. Then we fell in love with the scientific method, and the story was shoved to the back with the children’s fairy tales.
Now we know better, our stories make our meanings. Science is also valuable, but that’s another own story.