Yesterday, I completed Robert McKee’s Story Seminar. It’s a story boot camp of sorts – 32 hours of teaching in four days… including a 6 hour, scene by scene screening of Casablanca! The audience consisted of about 200 writers for screen, stage and page, along with several film and TV producers.

 

As you can imagine, 32 hours of content sparked a lot of ideas. So, you can expect several posts in the coming weeks about story. Today, I want to share a few thoughts on why leaders should care about story.

Story Connects – I don’t pretend to understand this phenomenon completely – it’s almost like magic. Any leader who’s used story well in the past understands this. When you and I share facts, we connect with a fraction of our audience. However, a story, well told, can have vast appeal.

Story Penetrates – Much of the communication we receive in our lives just barely pierces the surface of our consciousness. Stories have the potential to embed themselves in our heart and mind. They can cut to the core of who we are and what we believe.

Story Transports – As leaders, we’re always in the process of creating the future… that’s our job! We’re forever working to convince people they should go with us to that preferred future. Story is the perfect vehicle to take people to the future we’ve imagined. Story is a leader’s time machine!

Story Illustrates – When we have an idea, it’s always clear in our mind. That’s not always true for those who listen to our insight. Concepts can often confuse. A story can turn our ideas into tangible examples others can understand.

Story Personalizes – People look for themselves in our stories. They want to make the story their own. A story can serve as a mirror for the listener. That’s one reason a story resonates with people. It can be a reflection of their hopes, dreams and fears.

Story Illuminates – There are many thoughts, feelings, emotions and experiences in life that are hard to understand. Stories can shine a light on truth and help people make sense of life.

Story Inspires – Stories can be used to call out the best in people. When a story represents ideals and values we aspire to, we can be moved by the characters to continue our pursuit. It’s why we love the hero or heroine – we want to be more like them.

Story Sticks – I’m always amazed when someone says, “Hey, I heard you speak 30 years ago.” That’s a real shocker. Then, even more amazing, they sometimes add, “I remember the story you told about ______________.” They rarely remember my outline, just the story!

Great leaders have always understood the power of story. Go back as far as you’d like in history – whether it was Alexander the Great visiting the tents of the injured so he could learn their stories of bravery to share with the other troops; or Jesus telling the story of the lost sheep. Every leader should be a student of story.

I’ve been trying to master the art of story for years. This week has tempered my expectations a bit. I’m not sure story can be mastered; however, like any art form, it can be pursued. That’s exactly what I plan to do.[GLS_Shield]

How could story help you lead at a higher level?

Author: Mark Miller

Mark is a business leader, author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. He spends his time helping leaders grow.