Building a Culture With Story

When I spoke at the Masters in Creative Economy class at Kingston University last week I spoke about the The Red Cross. This was a pivotal moment in my life where I realized how much my past was holding me back.

But even though some stories have held me back in my life others have propelled me forward.

The moment I could reframe my past stories it set me off on a new tangent. I was able to quit full time work and start my consultancy in which I could exercise in a wider range of my talent. However, I’ve found that that momentum is hard to maintain without having people around me who can support me.

If it’s true that the shortest path between two people is a story then it must be true that stories can be the glue that both attract and hold like-minded people.

Here’s what I’ve found though. Whenever I’m in front of someone I really want to work with I don’t tell a story. Instead, I try to impress them. I say “I’ve done this and this and this and this and this and do you like me yet and do you like me yet and do you like me yet I hope you like me now.” I don’t reveal any emotion. This is something I’ve had to work on.

If you’re around a group of people who want to build a culture together – a community, a team, a tribe – consider what stories you tell to each other, if any.

What stories are worth sharing to build culture? It’s the stories which reveal trial, toughness, hardship. These stories, the ones that we so seldom want to tell, are the ones that reveal how we’re the same. They bind us.

And if you’re just starting a new community consider what you want that community to be. It takes individual leadership to paint a vision of the future. Be brave enough to tell stories of what change you want to see in the world. And to tell stories of what you’ve experienced that has driven your desire for the change.

Go deep. Be deliberate. Start sharing. See what happens.

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2 thoughts on “Building a Culture With Story

  1. Never thought that telling a story could be an intriguing way to introduce yourself to people you are interested in forming working relationships with. Might have to practice that on my next job interview.

    Stories are most engaging, I’ve found, when they are relatable and can be understood in a first-person view by your audience. That’s why some of the most well known stories talk about social, financial or relationship hardships and/or resolutions. In order to build a community or a culture, the stories I would tell would be those of when I’ve found myself in situations where the obstacles of life, love and money stood before me and how I overcame them. Adding humour, which is achievable to implement to almost all aspects of life, would also be a huge part of my stories.

    Thanks for the presentation Rob, really enjoyed it.

    Cheers,
    Fernando

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  2. I agree with you. However people are so into social medial applications and sometimes you find it quite difficult to draw their attention and it is not important how are you good at storytelling… so how good are you at drawing other’s attention????? I think this question has to come first …. dont know maybe I am wrong

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