Why We Need to Tell True Stories
There’s nothing more inspiring than a really good story. Yet, what makes a story inspiring isn’t actually the happy ending, but rather the journey (and the struggle) to get there. Painful, raw, real stories are the stories that stay with people, and that truly inspire them. Inspiring and motivating people, in business and in life, is an important part of guiding and leading people. So why aren’t we sharing more ‘real’ stories?
Before “Happily Ever After”
The business stories we usually hear are those of success, the “happily ever after” part of the story. It almost feels as if the leaders are simply born that way, or got there effortlessly. People don’t frequently see the inevitable toil and failures along the way, the falling down and getting back up again that truly forges leadership. Or maybe the failures are referenced, but glossed over, leaving little to motivate others looking for inspiration to push through their own trials and tribulations.
We know it can be difficult to talk about our own failures. But what’s really impressive about the people who have had career success, or even made it to leadership positions, is their ability to persevere. These stories are captivating, as we tend to enjoy hearing about the dizzying ups and downs such people have endured to get where they are. Many think that looking vulnerable is perceived as weak; this is, however, far from reality – showing vulnerability actually shows inner strength. By holding back the uglier parts of one’s own experiences, leaders can inadvertently create an air of glorified mystery that prevents the people they’re trying to encourage from connecting with them. They’re actually hiding their leader-making strengths when they don’t share what they’ve overcome. What truly sets a leader like Richard Branson apart is his willingness to air out his failures, as well as his shared insight into how these were essential to the successes that followed.
So Many Different Stories
Have you ever noticed that the happy stories or seemingly effortless success stories seem to blur together? What makes a story really interesting, is how the protagonist handles the struggles and conflicts before the happy ending. Each success story seems to have the same happily ever after, but its unique blend of circumstances and conflict is what really adds the flavor, making a story memorable, relatable and inspiring. In other words: a messy story is a memorable one.
The more different, the more unexpected your story is, the more it can teach people and connect with underrepresented audiences – thus the more it needs to be told. It’s not as useful or interesting to keep hearing the same type of story by the same type of people over and over again.
We’ll let the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie elaborate in her funny and moving Ted talk on “The danger of a single story”:
What’s your story?
The more unusual your story is, the more memorable and, potentially, world (or at least company) changing it will be. The uglier it got when the going got tough, the more people will be inspired – the better they will understand the blood, sweat and tears behind your happily ever after (as if there were such a thing). Your tumbles taught you something, and now is your chance to share those insights with the world. Or at least with your team. Tell it, write it, create a video – just share it.
And share it with us! We want to hear your true story. This is why we started the Inspirational Journey section on the Seuss Recruitment website and why it’s an important part of the Seuss Executive services webpage. Share your stories with us, and we can help you mine those gems of real-life inspiration and share them with the people who really need to hear it: the people – employees, partners, clients, friends and family and more – who are helping you succeed past “The End.”
By Seuss Recruitment co-founder Sabine Hutchison, who has many refreshing, hilarious leadership stories on her own journey of becoming leader in the pharma-recruitment industry. Stay tuned to hear them.