Professional Storyteller

Share a Story - Change the World

“In his book Culture Jam, Kalle Lasn says, ‘The most powerful narcotic in the world is the promise of belonging,’” said Annette Simmons, author The Story Factor. “To that I would add, the promise of being ‘known’ – not understood, not necessarily even valued – but simply to be acknowledged and seen.” She said that in a technological economy, human attention is the emerging scarce resource. “People need it, crave it, and will pay for it with their cooperation,” she said.

Simmons continued: "In today’s world almost everyone you want to influence is operating under a deficit of human attention. They are not getting enough time or attention from the people that they love. They have enough information. They have all the facts and statistics they could ever want. In fact, they are drowning information. Desperation is at epidemic levels because all of this information simply leaves us feeling incompetent and lost. We don’t need more information. We need to know what it means. We need a story that explains what it means and makes us feel like we fit in there somewhere."

According to Simmons, the current revival of storytelling is no fad; it is a demonstrable artifact of a profound cultural shift in our society. “Becoming a better storyteller is not hopping on some psycho-babble bandwagon,” she said. “To find your story is to join in a worldwide search for authenticity and those things that are truly important – a search for meaning. The more influential your stories become, the deeper they tap into that which is meaningful.”

Bruce Bradshaw, in his book Change Across Cultures: A Narrative Approach to Social Transformation, presented a similar view: “Narratives, the basic and essential genre for the characterization of human actions, are the stories that govern our lives. They empower people to organize [their] institutions, to develop ideals, and to find authority for [their] actions.” He said, “Cultural narratives explain why people behave as they do, and they can provide social justification for any behavior. This social justification is the starting point to discern how behavior can be redeemed.” (p. 24) They reveal how values and virtues are developed and shaped over time as well as the nature of the truth that governs them, Bradshaw surmised.

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Tags: applied, autheniticity, culture, identity, self-discovery, story, storytelling

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Comment by Steve Evans on May 21, 2008 at 12:30pm
Validity, community and meaning... Well put, Granny Sue. Thanks!
Comment by Granny Sue on April 30, 2008 at 10:22pm
Powerful and truthful words. That is what happens with storytelling: people's experiences are validated, they become part of a community (even if temporary), they find meaning in their life through the medium of story. I think many of us have seen this in action, but Simmons puts it into words.

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