Episode 263: The Power of Your Story

13 Minutes Read

“Once upon a time…”

Those words are literally magical. They change how people listen. 

When we hear them, our defenses drop and we pay closer attention because we know we’re about to hear a story. 

And yet, leaders often forget to share their best stories with their teams, thinking that data and directives will be more powerful. 

But the opposite is true. Pie charts, graphs, and deadlines that are missing the bigger picture and the human connection fail to create motivation and connection in your team.

In this episode you will discover:

  • How to find your best stories and tell them in a way that will motivate your team
  • Which personal stories will give you strength when things get tough, and which will drain it
  • Why stories from your own life are more powerful than those from even the biggest celebrities

To join us for the Tending Triad Journey we mention in the episode, register at besuperabound.com/journey

Listen on Spotify here





Episode Transcript

Erin Aquin  0:02  
Welcome to the Superabound podcast with master coaches Steve Haase and Erin Aquin, where business owners like you learn tools that help you clarify vision, clear up static and overcome challenges you are listening to episode number 263: The power of your story. Hello, and welcome. Today we have a live episode for you. And I hope you will enjoy this conversation. Because the way we use story in our business is so much more important than probably you think it is. I hope this episode changes your mind.

Steve Haase  0:39  
So we're talking about the power of your story. And what's really interesting here is that as modern workers, we think that data is the most powerful thing we can share or pie charts or you know, any of the other things that we fill our presentations with. But the thing that actually lets everybody's guard down and brings people in, is when you actually have a story to tell. It goes back way into our early hominid days on the savanna, where your life literally depended on paying close attention to the stories that were being told. And we brought that with us. And so if you are not using that, in your role as a leader, as a communicator, as a business owner, you are missing out on one of the most powerful tools that you could have at your fingertips.

Erin Aquin  1:31  
Yeah, and I think it's no surprise that story is really important when we're doing our marketing. I think anyone who owns a business, anyone who's ever had to sell anything knows that the way we make an emotional connection with people is through story. And ideally, if you're if you're good at marketing, you're telling the an aspirational story about what your client wants, or you're telling your story. But you're telling it in a way where it's it's important and connected to the same pain and struggle of your clients. So it's it's not going to be a newsflash for anyone here who's a marketer or a salesperson that story is important. But really interestingly, we've worked with some leaders recently, who forget that the way that they tell their story internally with their teams, the way they connect, the big vision or mission or purpose of the company, to their own individual, emotional life is really important. I had a session with someone who is a leader who they have about 150 people who report to them. And they told me about how they really want to bring a more human connection back to their working space, which is now largely remote. And they told me their story about their time at the company, and why that personal connection matters so much, and how it changes the way that their workers approach their clients. And I was very moved, as you know, the coach on the session. But then I asked him, Have you shared this with your team? Like, does everyone in the company who works with you know this story? And he was like, No, I don't think I've ever told anyone else who works with me this story. And immediately, things shifted. And we came up with a strategy for how to do that in a really positive and moving way. But we forget, as as leaders as individuals, that the things that now are so commonplace for us, the things that motivate us. If we haven't articulated it, often. Nobody else knows. And that is one of the reasons I think this is helpful, not just from a marketing and sales perspective, but also internally for how you motivate and move your team. That's a great

Steve Haase  3:59  
example of taking an experience and turning it into a story. Right? The thing that's interesting about a story is that it's bound in some way, right? There's a beginning, there's a middle, there's an end, it has a container. And that's what makes it so powerful is we can relate to someone's origin, we can relate to the struggles that they've gone through, we can relate to how they came through on the other side. But most of the time unless you make the effort to come up with that beginning, middle and end, it's just gonna be an unbroken chain of experience, like, oh, no, I worked. I worked. I started working and now I'm still working. Like that's how a lot of people relate to their days is I work if you don't take the time to say, here's why I started working and what it was like, here's the challenges that I experienced that I know you're going through. Also, here are the lessons that I learned that I also want to share with you and hopefully you can learn something from my lessons as well. You We'll only be having that same unbroken experience that your employees are. So when when you're turning your experience into a story, it's important to know, what is the point that you want to make. Because regardless of the point, you could come up with a story for it, right? If I wanted to make the point of, I worked so hard, and then I was successful, as a result, I could come up with a story for that if I wanted to make a point that says, I don't have to work as hard and I can still be successful, because of, you know, whatever factors, I could come up with a story for that. So as a leader, your storytelling is not just to entertain, although it does bring people in, it does become an entertaining part of a presentation, which is why it's so powerful. But also your job is to make a point. So start with the point that you want to make, and then from there come up with the boundaries of the story that you want to use for that.

Erin Aquin  5:54  
It's another way also of reframing the vision and the values that you and your team are, are working through, you know, if you just start every meeting with like, here's our big vision, and let me list out our values. And it's all a checklist, there will be a time where people just tune that out. There will be a time where people will go, Yeah, I know the vision and it's on the wall, I know the values, you start every meeting with it. But if you can talk about how those things maybe informed a decision that you made, if you can talk about how that maybe changed your own career trajectory. And do that in a way that isn't just about you. Because I think this is another tricky thing. I know a lot of business owners don't want to tell their own story because they think it's not going to matter. Like nobody cares about my story like poor me, the CEO of the company, oh, I had it so hard.

Steve Haase  6:53  
No one's gonna cry any tears,

Erin Aquin  6:55  
I worked six days last week. For me. That may be true, like you don't want to necessarily tell stories that are not related. But if you couldn't talk about how you started as someone's assistant, and the thing you learned from that amazing mentor, or the terrible mentor that you had, that you decided I'm never going to be a leader in this way. Because my first boss used to just walk in and scream at everybody on Monday morning. And then on Friday, at the Friday meeting, he would just scream at everybody again, you know, that little nugget of your experience informed something about how you've crafted yourself and learned as a leader. So it's not just the like the parables and the inspirational stories, I actually find that the most helpful experiences I have had as a, as a business owner, as a coach, the ones that really stick in the minds of my clients, because I do tell them stories. Sometimes if we're kind of coming up against Iraq, are the moments where things were not great. You know, we don't love a story where there's not a conflict of

Steve Haase  8:14  
some good thing, there's plenty of conflict, lots of conflicts,

Erin Aquin  8:17  
if you have a business or you lead a team, there's going to be complex. So that's that is something to keep in mind. Like as long as your story is connecting with the person that you're you're you're with that has some relevance to them, and maybe what they're going through. And it's real, you know, don't make up a story. You can do that too.

Steve Haase  8:38  
It's just less power. It's way less powerful. The order of impact because your story, someone else's story than a made up story. So if you're if you're grasping at straws, try finding someone else who has that story. But the one of the things that makes stories so powerful, is that you don't have to make it up right. If you want to make a point. All you need to do is look into your past for a challenge that you faced a way that you handled something. If you can't find it for yourself. Someone else has definitely had that story. But I challenge you first to dig into your own story. It may not be as sexy as you know, Steve Jobs founding Apple or I'm listening to Arnold Schwarzenegger his book right now Arnold Schwarzenegger, you know, breaking into movies like that's a great story. Like who am I? My stories suck compared to Arnold Schwarzenegger. But when you're the one who's talking yours are the stories that people want to hear. Because it's your own experience, right? That's going to have more impact than you'd be like back when Arnold Schwarzenegger was breaking into movies. You're like, Okay, fine. If I want to hear that I'll listen to him like I'm listening to you. So that is part of the power of the story is you are leading the team, you are leading your business. And so then it is your stories that are going to have the most impact. So spend time with what they are. For me and Erin, a lot of that has happened over the last few months through writing our book Hmm, sitting down and saying, okay, when did we have, you know, the point we're trying to make? What's our best story for that and tossing things back and forth. We're like, oh, man, we got some great stories. And then being able to highlight the thread that makes the point that we want to make is a powerful exercise for discovering your stories, and then telling them in a way that brings people along with the journey that you want to create.

Erin Aquin  10:28  
And I'll just share for anyone where this is like, I don't want to come up with a story or like, stories, it's just fluff. That is definitely where I tend to lean I don't love, you know, I don't love in a business book where someone like tells me like 15 pages of a story to make a point that like I should try keeping my calendar.

Speaker 3  10:54  
I think that some people like go a little too far with it.

Erin Aquin  10:58  
But having in the process of writing the book, and being encouraged to include more stories, our stories, client stories, stories of other business owners who we love and respect, I do see that it's easier to make a point through an actual lived experience yours or someone else's. Rather than just say, Trust me, I know what I'm talking about. Here's, here's what I think you should do. Without that emotional connection, you're just asking, and this is true on your team too. Like if you let's say you go on vacation, you have this realization about the direction of the business. If you come back and you say, okay, team, this is what we're doing, we're going in a totally different direction. Here's the plan, you've given those people on your team tasks, you've told them what you want them to do, but you haven't engaged their emotional connection to why that's important to how that connects to your vision to how that builds into

Steve Haase  12:00  
your values. Which brings us to one of the most, one of the highest impact uses of story, which is actually stories about the future. Another way of talking about this is like painting the vision, sharing your vision, but it's even cooler to think about it as the story you're telling about the future. So if you see where you want the company to go, making a vivid painting, making a vivid picture in people's minds about what that is, is part of your story. Right, a story is just a made up bunch of events. And so you're just making them up rather than about the past, which is where most stories take place, you make it up about the future that you're actually working on and going to create. So that's how they have significance for your team. But they also have significance for you as the leader. Because if you are holding in your future reality, this is the story that I want to unfold, then you will start lining up your life along with that story. And we're not talking about thought swapping where you're like, Well, you know, I really, I think I'm going to fail. But instead I'm going to tell myself a story about how I'm going to succeed. Like we're actually talking about what it is that you want to create. Most of us don't actually choose a story about our future. And so we interpret our current events along you know, with with with a lens that's pretty past focused, you know,

Erin Aquin  13:30  
percent growth year over year, right, let's have 10% growth next year.

Steve Haase  13:34  
Yeah. Right. And so let's say you you miss a growth target. If you're looking to the story of your past, like Well see, I never succeed, and never hit my targets, I always fail. But if you miss a growth target, and you're looking at the story that you're telling about your future, you say, cool. This is a piece of the puzzle towards how we're going to get to this glorious future. And so, being conscious about the story that you're telling, not only your team, but also yourself will influence how you experience setbacks, how you experience challenges in the present moment.

Erin Aquin  14:09  
And if you're wondering like, oh, well, how do I do that? Listen, if you do sales and marketing, you're already an expert at doing this because you're constantly doing this for your customers and clients in the sales process. One of the ways that we intentionally craft those stories in our company is through a practice. We teach called Coffee with the Oracle, where you basically sit down and you have a coffee or tea, whatever, whatever floats your boat, could be a cocktail cocktail with the Oracle whatever you want and your Oracle is you so really it is the future version of you, where you sit down and you brainstorm with that future version who is living the dream and you decide what the dream is. You are living your dream, living your vision or living closer to the top of the mountain of your vision, that version of you has so much wisdom has so much to say. And even though I take it very seriously, and I really, you know, believe that I am talking to some facet of my future self, it's also a story, you're also telling yourself a story from the narrative with the narrator being a future version of you. So it can be a little fantastical, it can be a thought exercise, you can say, Okay, I'm totally making it up, it can still be very powerful.

Steve Haase  15:35  
It's a great practice. And what I want to just drop into your mind space for you to consider right now is the story you're telling yourself about your own self care, your own self investment, both as it relates to your health, and also your progress on your business and your team. So just take a moment to, to reflect on what is the story, you're telling yourself, some common ones that I've had is, I don't have enough time to work out

Erin Aquin  16:07  
Yeah, right. Or a convenient one. For me, it's very clear, I don't have time, five o'clock, there's no no hours left in the day, days over.

Steve Haase  16:15  
Another one is, it's hard to eat right, it's hard to eat well, takes too much effort. Another one is, my business is just kind of growing at the pace that it's growing, I don't have a whole lot of influence over the rate of growth of my business. These are all stories that you tell about the things that matter most to you in your life, your health, your relationships, your business growth, the stuff that keeps your inner flame lit. And so I bring this up because it's central to your well being and your success as a business owner and leader. But also, because we are through our process of writing the book, we created a new tool called the tending triad to take care of all of these most important parts of your well being for the long term in a sustainable way. And so next week, we are going to be leading a five day journey to tend your inner flame that is totally free. No sales pitches, no fluff, it's just going to be five days of helping you go from whatever your current story about your well being. And the state of what matters most to you is to one that is more intentional, that you are happier with that feels more aligned with the future you who is living the life that you want to be living.

Erin Aquin  17:36  
And if the week of October 23 2023 happens to be a busy one for you. And you don't have the time to join those 30 minute workshop sessions. Just sign up for it anyway, because we will provide you with a replay. This is something we feel really strongly about when we when we're looking at the dates where our book is coming out. It is a tool in there that we just don't want anyone else to wait for because it's been so central to our wellness journey. Most of you know that I you know had a big burnout shut down a couple businesses about 10 years ago. And this tool is the sort of the Phoenix that has risen from the ashes of that event in my life experimented with over the past almost decade. And it really works. It works really, really well. It is self care that is designed for busy people, business owners, leaders, folks with a lot of responsibility. We need different self care, we don't have the time and the energy and the bandwidth to like experiment with 25 Different things or sign up for six classes or go to the spa for a half day every week. Even if that would be lovely. That's not often enough. And that's not often realistic for people at your level of output. So join us for that catch the replay over at be superabound.com/journey.

Steve Haase  19:10  
So hope you found today's conversation to be helpful. I mean it in reflecting on how central story is to how we understand the world. Even just taking a few minutes to reflect on the stories you're currently telling yourself. The stories you're telling your team and you're not just telling them in words, you're you're telling them with your life. You're telling them with your body language, you're telling them with how you relate to people. If you say I Value Trust, and then you're micromanaging your team, you're like, you're not lining up their friend. You clearly don't. And so that becomes part of your story. And so just I hope this sparked some ideas for the stories that you're sharing and the stories that You want to be sharing? Because it is how we learn. It's how we communicate. It's what's always happening in our lives.

Erin Aquin  20:06  
Thank you so much for joining us, and we hope you have a great week. Take care bye bye

Transcribed by https://otter.ai