I discussed influence with a client last week, and we arrived at the power of stories. She told me she was not a great storyteller and never knew how to tie a story to her message.
I told her she was wrong.
I asked her to tell me about cars she’s owned in her life. She said that cars were not that important to her, but as she described each, her demeanor became more exciting. One by one, she went through her car history from the first Honda her dad passed down to her when she was 17 to her current Toyota Highlander, providing her a “perch from which I can look down on others below me.” Her favorite was the little green Ford Mustang that her college sweetheart drove around town. She told me it had a “sweet way of holding the road.” I asked her about how that related to her work as a leader and she told me that her emphasis with her team is to stay focused on their work and to not get distracted by outside forces. She smiled as she realized they were doing a good job of “holding the road.”
She asked me about my favorite car, and the story about my red Saab convertible popped to mind. Finding it at my local used car dealership in January one year, I insisted on test driving it with the top down and temperatures in the low 30s. I described the joys that car brought me and how “quirky” those Swedish-built machines could be. After all, the ignition sits between the front seat, and it was also the car Jerry Seinfeld drove in his comedy TV series (but I had mine first.) Whenever I suggest to a client that is a little out of the ordinary, I tell them about how Saab built cars that were a little different.
Of course, there is also the story of the Ferrari, but I told her we would leave that for another day. I suggested that you always want to leave them wanting more of your good story.
My client walked away from our session recognizing that she is a pretty good storyteller and that she could sway her audience to her ideas with both facts she derives from data and the passion she evokes with her stories.
Not a bad day’s learning.
Resilience is not always about overcoming adversity. Sometimes it is about taking something we are good at and turning it into something great. Not just bouncing back but bouncing forward.
How is your storytelling? Or your ability to make quality decisions, or to use your smarts to influence others. I suspect it is better than you think, but you could be right. Let’s check out how good you are. Give me a call, and within 30 minutes, we’ll have a good idea about how you and your team can take off.
© Richard Citrin 2022