1. You can not argue with someones story

When we argue our issue with facts alone, the other side does the same thing. An argument encourages people to argue. A story asks us to participate. We can’t argue with your personal story, but we can choose to empathise. With empathy our hearts and minds can change.

2. Move us to act

When deciding whether we want to do something or not we ask ourselves two questions; why and how. People decide the why, often on emotion and then justify the how with logic. The story gives us the why. It emotionally calls us to act and think differently.

3. Teach us how to act

The story of David and Goliath is ancient. It stuck around because it still gives an important lesson on how to act in uncertainty: have courage and the underdog can win. Our world is uncertain and stories provide lessons to help us navigate it.

4. People forget

People are forgetful. It takes most people seven times to remember your name. Most people will not remember the numbers you tell them. At the same time we have been telling stories for centuries, before we could even write them down. Good stories stick.

5. Bad stories are stickier

Bad stories are much more sticky. We may remember them because they evoke more emotion, not because they are more real or true. This has direct consequences on how we treat each other.

6. If we don’t, others tell them for us

The idea of telling your story may make your stomach fizz like aspirin in Lucozade but I have two points for you:

  1. Why would anyone give their time to a cause, if they have no idea who you are?
  2. If you don’t author your story others will and sometimes what they say is not very pleasant.

Telling stories is not easy

Stories should be real, honest and personal. This often means talking about challenges in our life; moments of struggle. If you haven’t shared stories of struggle before it can be hard at first. Our most important actions are often not comfortable.

Sharing stories of struggle can turn pain into our most powerful tool of change. At the same time do not to allow external pressure to push you to share anything you don’t want to. It does the opposite of making you feel powerful. The following task will help you to avoid this and ensure you’re sharing stories you want to.

How to find your story

Finding our stories can be difficult. Sometimes we think we don’t have any, or that they are not worth sharing. Other times our stories are too painful to make public.

All of us have stories. Full stop. We all have an origin story about where we are from, and our upbringing. We have stories of struggle, change and a coming out story of how we want to be seen by the world. All of us have stories of hope and dreams. Secondly, story telling is not a suffering olympics. It is not our most painful moments that must become our story. We share stories to show people something real about who we are and our sources of courage.

Lifeline

To help find our stories we use a tool called the lifeline. The lifeline lists our defining moments from birth to now. From those moments we decide which ones to sharpen and share with others.

A timeline with names on it

This is Alex’s lifeline showing all of their defining moments. The moments highlighted are the stories Alex will make public. The rest remains private for now and perhaps forever.

It is important to stress our lifeline is fluid. The longer you live, the more stories you have, and the feelings we have towards them change over time. Stories too painful now can become your public source of strength.

Task

Write your lifeline

Only you get to decide what becomes public and what remains private in your life. Map out your lifeline with key defining moments. Circle the stories you want to share. They become your tools to help others understand who you are and what motivates you.