IT'S THE STORY, STUPID!
That might sound a bit crass, but it's true. In the end, it's all about the story. It's not about the endless powerpoints with the graphs and the pie charts - the circles, the arrows and the boxes - the metrics, the optics and the statistics...or any other "tics." But boy, you wouldn't know that if you happened to drop into just about any conference room across corporate America where a "presentation" about the past, present or future of an enterprise is being discussed. Maybe that's why so few really brilliant ideas emerge and flourish - or why "innovation" is the watchword of the times but rarely the reality. Or why, when the meeting's over, few can recall a moment of truth - or the realization of a new possibility - or actually make the decision to take the next hill. It's true in politics, too. But more about that in a minute..
First, an example: In my writings, workshops and speeches, I exhort people to "develop their own personal and professional brand, to not be afraid to be unique or to stand out - to remember that if enough people love you, the ones who don't, don't matter. They nod. But it's when I tell this story that they actually "get it:"
"When I was nine years old, I came home from a birthday party sobbing because someone told me that another little girl didn't like me at all. I really was a wreck...until my mother said, "Well, that's interesting, darling, isn't it? Because I can only think of one thing that absolutely everyone likes...and that's water...because it has no taste. Do you want to be like water? Or would you rather be like lemonade, or hot chocolate, or..." "Champagne," I shouted, having tasted it once. "Now you've got it," my mom said. And I did. And I never forgot it.
Back to politics: President Obama confessed recently that the "main mistake" of his first term was that he forgot to "tell the story." He was so focused on "getting the policy right,” he said, that he neglected to "tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially in tough times...” He went on to say, “We were so busy on getting a bunch of stuff done that we stopped paying attention to the fact that leadership isn't just about legislation. That it's a matter of persuading people. And giving them confidence and bringing them together." In business, in politics - even in families.
Maybe we can learn from the President's "mistake." Maybe we can make sure that, in addition to the “policies,” the “processes" the "financials” and the “legislation,” we tell a story - one that inspires, energizes - even galvanizes our audiences...to make the sale, get out the vote - or simply, to take heart.
"The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves...and believes in." —Harold Goddard
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