I often think about what it means to be human, and what captures the essence of the “human experience”. We are animals after all, and many times I have looked at the rest of the animal world and thought about what makes the human experience different.
We have a puppy. His name is JoJo. He is loving, kind and loyal. He sits at the foot of my chair when I write (in fact he’s there right now.
He exhibits many traits that I admire in a human. JoJo can also communicate, in his own special way, but his communications are generally limited to basic needs: I’m hungry; I need to get outside to pee; I want to play with this ball; Please get off my tail that hurts (this message is usually given to Seth, our 6 year old). I believe that JoJo actually thinks he’s human, and sometimes at dinner he will hop up on the sixth chair at our table (we have 5 people in our family), without the slightest hesitation. He knows he’s part of the family, so that makes sense to him right?
But JoJo isn’t human, he’s a dog. Among other things (not having thumbs being one) JoJo can’t tell stories. I know nothing about his perspective, or his memories. He can’t communicate these. He can’t tell me stories about the adventures that he takes in the house when we leave (these I would love to know), or which one of the dogs in the dog park is his best friend (and which ones bug him).
I have come to realize that stories have a powerful place in our life, and without our realizing it may actually be the most important factor in making connections with, and being inspired by, others.
As I write this, I’m sitting in my office surrounded by books. I have hundreds of them. When I look at these books I realize that the most powerful books – the books that have had the most profound impact on me – are the books where I read a story, and I’m not just referring to fiction (although a good fiction story is fantastic). I’m mostly referring to the non-fiction books where I was able to relate to the author because of a story – either about their life, or the life of someone else. The best speakers I have ever heard are the best because they told the best stories, and out of the hundreds of public speeches I’ve listened to, the only ones that I can remember, are the ones where I can recall a story.
I have come to realize that advice, however sincerely given, ultimately fails in its delivery, and effectiveness, if it can’t be taught through a story – either a story directly by the giver of the advice, or the giver acting as storyteller for someone else. The latter can be very powerful, especially in circumstances where the hero of the story is limited in their ability to tell the story on their own.
I’m inspired by stories. You are inspired by stories – and any time we give inspiration to another person it is because of OUR story. It is because they have learned about our story and this touches them in some way.
Stories weave the fabric of family and cultural history.
Stories make us want to be patriotic.
Stories make us want to be charitable.
Stories make us want to be courageous and take risks.
Stories motivate us to go after challenging goals of our own.
Stories influence us to develop our character.
Stories are the basis of our connection with each other.
One of things that we are implementing in our business is to tell the stories of the many people who have been involved. People who know us also know our story. We have been quite public about telling it – a stay at home mom, and a discontented lawyer, wanting a better life – one that gave more happiness and freedom. So we started a home based business. We worked our butts off, the business went viral, and were able to find success, freedom and empowerment (including me quitting my job as a lawyer in the process).
But what people don’t realize is that behind our story are thousands of individual stories, equally as compelling and empowering as ours. These people comprise the team that we’ve built in our business. Their stories need to be heard as well, so to celebrate them, we’ve created a new page in our business blog called “Empowering Stories” where we will be featuring the many people who are part of our story.
Behind every great story, there is another story that is also great, if you are willing to take the time to learn it.
Behind every well known business leader there are hundreds of empowering stories – these stories, and these people, have the same right to be heard as the heralded leaders.
We live in a culture where the “cult of personality” is prevalent. We honour people for their achievements, and deservedly so. But let us never forget that one person’s story is not possible without the stories of those that surround them. I believe that the world would be a much happier and better place if we all took the time to look around, find someone who has a story, ideally someone not in the “spotlight” and take the time to learn about their story. You will be amazed how much this will inspire and motivate you, while giving a voice to others.