-Why leaders should tell more stories 2.0
A leader to her team:
“I know we are facing some challenges to get this project off the ground that most of us would rather not deal with. And I also know how tempting it is to complain, give up, or ignore them.
I want to share a story about something that happened to me and how it taught me to trust that as each hurdle unfolds, the resources and the wisdom to overcome and even flourish will show up – if you are open to it.
A few years ago, my husband and I set out to conquer Ireland’s highest peak, Carrauntoohil, a challenging 3,000-foot ascent. Our adventure began with uncertainty, as my husband fell ill and the weather turned unfavorable. Faced with a pivotal choice, he resolved, “Let’s just start. If I can’t do it, we’ll turn back.” With determination and my support to be by his side, we embarked on the arduous journey.
Nearing the summit, my husband felt better. However, during a break in the fog, I looked over the narrow precipice to see that I was standing at the slippery edge of a cliff with a sheer drop to the bottom. Overwhelmed by fear, I declared, “I can’t keep going.” Then, our rugged guide took a firm grip on my hand and said, “It’s not the looking that kills you; it’s the falling.” With a fierceness that I couldn’t resist, he pulled me along on the trail until it opened up.
Later, during the descent, I was exhausted and my knee was in pain. Once again, our wise guide gave it to me straight. “There are only two ways off this mountain: you walk or a helicopter rescue.” I knew we didn’t have the money or travel insurance for the latter. I popped two Advil and let my husband and another hiker hold me by my arms as they led me step by step down a shorter route off the mountain as the rest of the group trudged on.
When we finally reached the bottom, we got a ride and met the other hikers for celebratory drinks. I had never felt so grateful and unexpectedly confident. That journey showed me the power of trust, teamwork and indomitable spirit to overcome anything. It taught me that although I might have doubt and fear, I should never yield to it when facing challenges.
So, just like I persevered on that Irish mountain, I know we can conquer any obstacle in this project. As we say yes to this challenge, let’s vow to be each other’s sources of support, wisdom and resources when needed.”
→In last week’s newsletter, I promised to share how to use stories to engage your team. This story from my own life was the best way to do that. As you think about sharing your own stories, here are some critical elements of storytelling to ensure success.
Make sure your story is:
- Relatable and relevant to those you are talking to
- Reinforces, not contradicts, the values and principles of your team or organizational culture
- Honest, appropriate and without exaggeration
- Highlights the positives by showing how the negative was overcome
Ask for feedback to ensure the message intended was the message received. If anything is unclear, use it as an opportunity to understand the differences in perception and motivation to help you deliver a more appropriate story next time.
Stories capture our attention, making it easier to absorb information. They evoke emotion, which helps us remember. They tap into the fundamental human desire for connection, understanding, and personal growth.
A good story is the meeting place of education and entertainment, making communication more enjoyable and impactful.
Stories. Tell more of them.
Till next week,
Jo-Aynne Von Born, Leadership and Executive Coach
Work Your Authentic Genius.
What story can you tell this week to help someone understand a complex or uncomfortable issue you want to discuss?