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.

We use identity as a lens to understand the web. But identity is much broader than our online presence. Our identity is formed through many experiences that include:

  • 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 we think we need and what needs us
  • interactions — how we see ourselves in relationship to others

Some stories are situational, they exist because of a certain set of circumstances. Especially poignant stories are what writers call defining moments in scenes — dialogues on life changing decisions fit into this category.

Other stories are imagined, we make them up in our heads, when we overlook external cues that things are not really how we see them. Yet, our focusing on them invites those thoughts into our lives as reality. George Bernard Shaw said:

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at least you create what you will.”

Imagination is what sets us apart. 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, defining a set of principles is helpful in setting the tone for how people work and collaborate – – “this is how we do things around here.”

When we hold onto a story too tightly, however, we stifle innovation.

Sharing stories to influence

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

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 stories connect a business with its customers, 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 and books contain at least one quote.

What follows is a selection of quotes shared in social networks:

“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 Angelou (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

“To 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

“What 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. Discover.”
~ 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]