He looked for her in the crowd, and she sat crying, waiting for him to find her. The Master’s this past weekend has proven, once again, the immense power of story. Against the backdrop of Tiger Wood’s comeback, there shone a moment that few who witnessed it will forget.
She was too weak from her last cancer treatment to stand, so Phil Mickelson bent down to hug his wife — and they both cried. That one moment provided us with the story of a couple who have experienced the loneliness of sitting in a hospital room watching the dripping of chemo into a line that brings exhaustion and illness to the body into which it spills.
Suddenly Phil Mickelson was more than a golfer who just won his third Masters by three strokes, now he became a fellow human being that was experiencing the difficulties we have all faced in one form or another. Fighting for survival, losing someone we love, trying to keep moving forward when we want the world to stop. For a brief moment, we all connected. Jay Mariotti captured this beautifully in an article in Fanhouse.
Whether you are a salesperson or a leader, never forget that human beings are emotionally connected, and that any changed behavior must involve the heart. How many of you out there cried with Phil and his wife? Why do we cry over a couple that we do not even know? Because we understand their story. Or as Robert Coles says:
The sine qua non of storytelling is human mutuality, human connection, and the wish for that. When people lose those things, they lose themselves.
The press tried all week to create a story about Tiger, and people clapped furiously for him at the Masters, letting him know that he was not alone. Yet there was something in his demeanor that revealed a lack of emotion, a lack of sincerity, an anger with which we could not connect. Or maybe his story was overshadowed by one that connected to more people. I have to admit I wasn’t a Phil Mickelson fan going into the Masters, but I am now. Good stories connect and change minds.
You can either provide all of the stats of the Masters to captures someone’s attention, or you can tell the story of this year’s winner. I guarantee you the story about Phil Mickelson will capture the heart and ears of the listener. Then you can provide stats – but never first.
If you want to change someone’s behavior you must first get their attention. Give people a reason to listen by connecting to their heart. It’s as if you are sending a web of emotion to someone else, and all future communication will go through that point of connection. Without it, you just become someone else throwing data, hoping it will stick.
“Whenever stories are told, stillness falls. We cease our restless frittering. During these times of concentrated devotion of alternative realms we may reconnect with the power of creation. Through such resting we are renewed. Renewal inspires the courage to change.” — Alida Gersie