What Do We Mean By ‘Story’?William Gadea 02.21.2012
In business, the term story is used somewhat promiscuously. Companies talk about wanting to tell their story. It’s often seemed to me that what they mean by story isn’t the same as what we mean by story. I suppose it’s foolish to dispute how terms are defined, but I do think the distinction is worth making.
A set of facts is not a story. A concept (no matter how exciting) is not a story. A sequence of events may be, but is not necessarily, a story.
What is a story then? A story is about a character with a need. The character acts to address that need, and this action results in either failure or success. In it’s simplest form, that is all a story is.
The result, however, can be funny, sad, inspiring, or disconcerting. Over our lifetimes we will take in thousands of these stories in and, as a bird builds a nest out of twigs, we will build our sense of self: of what is possible, probable, reproachable, and admirable. We will tell stories about ourselves and others so we might understand the world. We will try on many masks, and place them on the people we meet.
Stories have power. Stories make us. Our communication can gain great strength if we use them well.
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