The Power of Story

The Power of Story

The power of story seems to be everywhere lately!

There are books on it, TEd talks, and they are splashed all over every ad we see or hear.

Marketers used to focus on selling a product, but now they focus on selling a lifestyle.  They create a story that illustrates just how much we need or should want their product via the image they’ve created.

Stories evoke emotion.  It helps us connect to the elephant.   The Elephant?


I read a TON of books.  Switch, by Dan and Chip Heath, is hands down my favorite book for leaders.

In Switch, the authors describe change simply as a rider on an elephant walking down a path. 

The rider represents your intellect. 

It provides planning and direction.  It’s our brain and our rational side thinking about which way to go.

The elephant represents your gut or your heart.

You know when you just know something is not right in your gut or your gut tells you to do something?  That’s the elephant.  He is the emotional side that provides the energy and the passion.

The path that they are walking on represents the structure that you have in place.

It’s the environment in which you work, it’s the policies and procedures that you have.  It’s forms and supplies, and all of those things that provide the structure in your day.

You can have a very smart rider and a fantastic path set out ahead to walk on, BUT if that enormous elephant doesn’t want to walk down that path you ain’t going no where no how!

Stories get that giant elephant moving down the path!

How can you use the power of story in your organization?  Some great opportunities:

  • Helping staff to embrace a new process with an emotional story that makes them feel the need for the change.
  • Inspiring your team to take action on a new project through a compelling story that builds up the why behind the project.
  • Marketing with relationship based stories that help you stand out to potential residents/family members who are touring many organizations. (This also helps to engage the employee or resident who the story is about!)
  • Recruiting new staff by means of touching stories that share how your organization is different from all the rest.
  • Connecting with residents by hearing their stories and learning more about their needs and wants.

A good story needs an activator. A phrase that gets the emotional elephant invested in listening to you.  Here are some examples:

  • Do you remember when…
  • Have you ever…
  • Imagine for a moment you…
  • Have you ever witnessed a time…
  • Do you ever notice…
  • Once upon a time….(Just kidding! Don’t use that one!)

If you’ve worked with us, you know how often we use stories to inspire, challenge and motivate people! 

If not, well I’ll let you in on a little secret…when we prepare for public speaking events, workshops or trainings, we use the very process described above.  We not only search for data that will reach the rider we use narrative to make it come alive for the elephant.

I have a set of objectives and the best way to make sure the message gets heard is to interlace those objectives with the power of stories.  (Besides using my normally loud New Yorker voice; if you know me, you know the words “indoor voice” are missing from my vocab!)

There’s a reason stories have been around for thousands of years.  They work!

Try using one of the activators above to kick off a story when you are working to win over a staff member, potential resident or employee, your boss, or even your Board of Directors.  Get that elephant moving!


Sign up today to know when we release a new article


Ultimate Recruitment: 65 Ways for Attracting, Onboarding & Keeping the Best

Empower your workforce with 65 tips on attracting, onboarding, and retaining the best talent at your organization. Simply enter your email address and name to claim your free download.