I was watching a special on Abraham Lincoln, and they discussed how everything he wrote was written with the intention if it being told, as in a story.
Now we write to sound intellectual, or grab someone’s attention. If we’re telling stories, we’re yelling and running at key points frantically, trying to get there before the next guy. I think this style has made us forget that our stories are a direct reflection on us. What we tell, and how we tell it, can build our reputation.
Stories are like verbal glue, bonding people together. Whether those stories are told in school, neighborhoods, churches or corporations, they create characters that we either love or hate. And, make no mistake, stories are told every single day.
Our stories might not have the complex, fantastical characters of Twain or Aesop, but they always have protagonists and antagonists. Our stories help us make sense of other people’s actions, while allowing us to test our theories with others.
Here’s an example of a common day “story.” You are sitting in a meeting, and notice a person with whom you’ve shared a new idea. Before you can share your new idea, they share it as their own. You sit in disbelief as the person gets accolades for your thoughts.
You leave the meeting, anxious to tell somebody, anybody, what just happened to you. As you tell the story of the meeting, you embellish the action with analysis. You add reasons why the person might have stolen your idea. You need to develop the true beginning, the point at which the betrayal began.
You build out the body of the situation by adding some hypotheses about the meeting itself . . . you were pretty sure his body language showed that he knew you were looking at him with disdain. Some people in the room didn’t believe it was his idea, because he had done the same to them.
Finally, you attempt to control the ending by strategicially exposing the situation, and trust that your story will be passed on.
We tell stories, every single day. While there may not be pen on paper, our stories are told via email, texting, and telephone.
Here’s a quick reminder: Stories should be handled with care, because they form a web of experiences that can create and end relationships. Your stories, and your embellishments, might just become the truth to someone else or, eventually, to you. Make sure you have all of the facts before you write your ending.