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Storytelling: Meaningful and alive, extracting order from chaos

Storytelling: Meaningful and alive, extracting order from chaos

By Natasja Beyleveld, Managing Director of NaMedia.

Joseph Campbell said; “what people seek is not the meaning of life but the experience of being alive”. Through our own lives, we come to understand that challenges are the pathway to progress but, like calves, not all challenges are created equal.

Some challenges make us feel alive, engaged, connected, and fulfilled. Others simply overwhelm us. Knowing the difference as you set bigger and bolder challenges for yourself is critical to your sanity, success, and satisfaction (Brendon Burchard). When we unpack a challenge for a client, do we enable them to feel alive, engaged, and connected? Or do we overwhelm them in a failed attempt to impress.

If we see the story in the challenge, and we share the experience, it becomes a pool of wisdom others can take encouragement from. In order to encourage others, you have to take up courage and council. Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact (Robert McKee). What would that currency be? To embrace. Human-inspired storytelling attempts to embrace; an instant moment of connect from which the after-effect lingers in actions that follow.

Storyteller Cindy Chastain said; “we tell stories that seek to order chaos, provide meaning and engage the emotions of our listeners… Brand message is no longer the thing that sells. Experience sells. If the intangible can be made tangible through the use of story, people will listen because you’re relevant, and they resonate. Gaining attention (only) does not equal aspiration. If you have someone’s attention, you do not necessarily have them engaged. Has, what you’ve spoken (or played), created a tangible embrace of the intangible?

Beethoven opened his Fifth Symphony with four notes that are so compelling that even listeners who have only heard the piece once immediately recognize those notes. Its emotion made tangible in seconds, a universal language.

A ‘love’ of your article or comment does not necessarily mean that you have someone’s attention. Let’s focus less on manipulation, and more on inspiration by means of real story telling. It’s not just talking; it’s showing, illustrating, creating something that can be seen to be experienced. Nelson Mandela said that he “likes friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems [stories] from all angles”. Who are the storytellers in your life that have become part of your library that you draw from?

There is dignity and significance in each human life (as much as in your own), and there is one good lesson that can be taught to brand and to self; “you can make more friends [customers] in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in you”. A way of influencing and guiding those processes are through impactful storytelling. Accidental narcissism (read social media, read own storytelling) might change perspectives and have a better reach if the narrative changes to showcase real interest in other people, for instance, your customer.




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A Guest Contributor is any of a number of experts who contribute articles and columns under their own respective names. They are regarded as authorities in their disciplines, and their work is usually published with limited editing only. They may also contribute to other publications. - Ed.