How Stories Influence What we Do


Stories shape who we become and influence what we do.

It starts with the story we tell ourselves about who we are, where we come
from, and where we're going, which contribute to our sense of identity.

Identity is much
broader than your online profile. It's made of many pieces that speak

  • heritage — the place you were born, where you live, age, educational background, etc.
  • environment — transient external factors such as the economy
  • needs — they include both what you need and what you think you need
  • interactions — how you define yourself in relationship to others

Some stories are situational, they exist because of a certain set of
circumstances. Others are imagined, we make them up in our heads, and
may end up overlooking critical cues that things are not really that

By virtue of focusing on them, we end up inviting those thoughts into our lives as

A vision is crafted from intent, to describe where we would like to go. Businesses encapsulate aspirations for their brands in (usually) a pity statement.
The stories an organization tells about itself guide how people behave and become
the culture of that organization
— "here's the way we do thing
around here".

Defining a set of principles is helpful in setting the tone for how people work and collaborate. Hold on to a story too tightly, however, and you stifle innovation. So handle with care.

Sharing stories to influence

Humans share stories for a variety of reasons — to convey
emotion, to inspire, to influence, to connect, to negotiate meaning, and so on.

In digital media, we use words intentionally to create a narrative and experience that aligns what we offer with the needs of buyers. The best brand storytelling connects a business with its user base and establishes a baseline to grow the right relationships and produce advantage over time.

Third party testimonials provide validation to the brand's story. We quote the words of others to increase our credibility.

Stories connect

Credibility is a necessary stepping stone to connection. Which is why so many business presentations contain at lest one quote.

A couple of years back I asked people to share their favorite inspirational sound bites on Google+. Here are the snippets of wisdom they shared:

“The only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude.”
~ Dennis S. Brown (via Lori Griffin)

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
~ Maya Angleou
(via Anna Farmery)

“Every artist was first an amateur.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (via Alizee Rait)

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
~ Churchill (via Kristoffer Sorensen)

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
~ M Gandhi (via Geordie Wardman)

“All successful people men and women are big dreamers. They imagine
what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work
every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.”
~ Brian Tracy

believe in the things you can see and touch is no belief at all; but to
believe in the unseen is a triumph and a blessing.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

“Some men see things as they are and say, Why? I dream of things that never were and say, Why not?”
~ George Bernard Shaw

“Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.”
~ Victor Hugo (all via Michael Ramkisoon)

“The memories of a man in his old age are the deeds of a man in his prime.”
~ Pink Floyd (via Howie G)

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.”
~ Dr. Seuss

“Sometimes you just have to take the leap, and build your wings on the way down.”
~ Kobi Yamada

we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of
little consequence. The only consequence is what we do.”
~ John Ruskin
(all via Marc Malonzo)

“Measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you.”
~ Warren Buffet (via Danny Brown)

“Limits exist only in the souls of those who do not dream.”
~ Philippe Petit – Tightrope walker (via Marko Kulik)

“The new source of power is not money in the hands of the few but information in the hands of many.”
~ John Naisbit (via Julian Inasi)

“if you have to give up,
give up anger, fear, guilt, doubt –
not your time, your breath, or your clarity.”
~ Prem Rawat (via Carlos Saraiva)

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that
dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
G. K. Chesterton (via Fred Sampson)

“Make things as simple as possible–but no simpler.”
~ Einstein

“Eyesight is insight.”
~ Rudolph Armheim (both via Ron Jay Miller)

Fortitudine Vincimus: By Endurance, We Conquer.”
~ Sir Ernest Shackleton's Family Motto (via Jarie Bolander)

“There is no try; only do.”
~ Yoda (via Peter Rodgers)

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
~ Gandhi (via Valentin Dobroia)

“Think beyond your lifetime if you want to accomplish something truly worthwhile.”
~ Walt Disney (via Vincent Palmer)

“[Courage is] when you know you're licked before you begin, but you
begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
~ Atticus Finch/Harper
Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (via Christa Miller)

“Twenty years from now you'll be more disappointed by the things you
didn't do than the things you did. So cast off the bowline. Sail from
safe harbor. Let the trade winds catch yours sails; explore. Dream.
~ Mark Twain (via Frank Strong)


Each quote is a story, each story is part of the narrative shared by a
person, who in turn is part of the tapestry of a community. Stories help
connect us to ourselves, and to others.


[edited from archives]

[image by Ville Miettinen]


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover
the value of promises and its effect on relationships and
. She is also frequent speaker at
conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.


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