“We’re hard-wired for narrative”
Judith Saltman, UBC
This article speaks to the universal, timeless and powerful role stories play in our lives. Stories move us in ways mere information cannot. Data can inform our conscious minds, but it is stories that reach through to our unconscious and grab us emotionally. It is not the facts of what happens but the way we make sense of it that impacts us. Stories can inspire, delight and otherwise touch us in powerful ways.
Balanced Leadership is founded in large measure by the power of stories to call us to action. The characters (archetypes) in stories – heroes, villains, wise elders, cowards and tyrants, etc – provide the impetus for own growth, as they do in all cultures and always have. Understanding how these deeply embedded archetypes motivate people is a tremendous asset for leader.
Ancient Traditions-Emerging Technologies
One may wonder how the shift from a “slow” analog world to a hyper-fast digital universe affects the role of storytelling in our lives. As a recent article in Psychology Today points out, the new media converges well with the old traditions. Put another way, stories work well in any medium because humans think in stories regardless of the technology. It is that very primal and transcendent role narrative plays in our lives that makes stories an integral element within Balanced Leadership. Because leaders are guided by their personal stories – often unconsciously – it is critical to harness and direct the archetypal energy within stories towards a preferred future.
What defines us
If indeed we are hard-wired for stories, how can a leader use the power of the narrative to drive innovation, growth and well being within organizations? While there is no simple recipe for this , it does involve knowing and owning our own stories, recognizing the various “characters” (archetypes) in our particular story and developing a compelling narrative that resonates with people and calls everyone to individual and collective action. Employees need to see themselves reflected in the grand narrative of the organization, to find meaning, purpose and belonging there. Stories don’t disappear just because we don’t acknowledge and act upon them – they are influencing us regardless. Balanced Leaders get this and consciously use our universal link to stories for everyone’s benefit.
What’s your story?