We are our stories

We are our stories

‘… recognize that every person, every being, every thing has a story and contains stories – and, in fact, is a story – and that all of these stories interconnect, that we are, in fact, surrounded by stories, embedded in stories and made of stories.’ Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Insitute

The previous posts introduced some keys to shaping and connecting with communities. We’ll now focus on what underlies the interactive reality created by companies together with their communities: stories.

The story that a company tells the world should reflect its essence and be authentic, but isonly given credibility by the customers’ stories. So when a company states: “We always put the customer first”, listeners tend to be doubtful or even cynical about this common message. In contrast, when we hear customer’s stories of employees who have provided outstanding customer service, the concept immediately becomes more credible.

Stories are the single most powerful form of human communication. This has been true all over the world for thousands of years and is still just as true today in our organizations, communities, and families. If you want someone to remember information and believe it, your best strategy in almost every case is to give them the information in the form of a story. But why? Let’s concentrate on two important reasons.

Stories enter the mind naturally: Since the human mind is narrative, we are naturally predisposed create, remember and tell stories. Because stories enter our minds naturally and without resistance, we embrace them more easily than any other form of discourse. When speakers try to convince us with concepts and theory, we often look for flaws in their reasoning. When a speaker tells a personal story, we tend to relax, to let it in and accept it.

Story provides a vicarious experience and invites us in to participate by building a bridge between parallel lives. If well-told, we feel a story deeply because it touches something in our common experience, our common humanity.  We can empathize with the teller, and thus a vicarious “experience” is generated. When we present a business idea, we would like the listeners to feel it vicariously, and with all the passion we feel. If we paint vivid pictures with our stories, it is one way to truly stand out amid the seemingly never-ending stream of slideshows and company-speak of modern corporate life.


From the perspective of companies, in order to generate any customer’s stories, they must of course first have a solid story themselves.

Photo courtesy of Clare Murhpy

Written by Esther with the material from the forthcoming book of John Sadowsky.


  1. Harley Lovegrove 13 years ago

    Indeed everyone has a story to tell. For me, the difference between a leader and an ‘inspirational leader’ is the leader’s ability to inspire those around them by commanding powerful story telling techniques. But where do their stories come from? From life, form study, form astute observation and learning from their mistakes. My latest book: Inspirational Leadership (the five essential elements) http://www.inspirational-leadership.org is a blend of theory and loads of short stories compiled from the observations I have made over the 30 years of my commercial experience. Some funny, some sad, but hopefully all engaging? I would love to hear your reviews…

  2. Shmuel Herschberg 13 years ago

    Excellent advice. This concept can – and should – be used by B2C email marketers to help them get their product’s “story” across.

  3. Esther 13 years ago

    Thank you for your comments. The book on Inspirational Leadership looks very interesting. I’ll surely check it out.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.