Business storytelling mindset for success

September 28, 2017

Christopher McDougall was a desperate man. He was about to embark on a gruelling challenge of a lifetime in a 50-mile race through some of the world’s toughest terrain. He had heard about the Tarahumara tribe, or ‘running people,’ a reclusive tribe who lived in the canyons of northern Mexico.

The Tarahumara tribe are renowned for this activity, often running 200 miles in one session without a rest! Despite this superhuman talent, they don’t suffer from running injuries.

Intrigued, McDougall set out to track them down and discover their secrets. Despite their reputation, they were welcoming of him and shared their secrets, which he describes in his book, Born to Run.

McDougall says that the lesson from the Tarahumara was simple: learn to love to run. The Tarahumara people have a mindset and culture based on the belief that running is an essential human skill. It is hard to be a part of the Tarahumara and not enjoy running. It’s seen as a necessity that makes them who they are as a people.

McDougall also reminds us that this running passion is not exclusive to the Tarahumara. As children, most of us run around in play with wild abandon, enjoying the freedom. However, a lot of us disconnect from this as adults.

I was immediately struck by a similar experience my clients have with storytelling. As children, we love stories―listening to them, reading them and even coming up with our own. But, sadly, as professionals in the business world, we tend to disconnect from storytelling as a valid tool. The biggest successes my clients have had with business storytelling is when they have embraced it as a mindset, often challenging one another by saying, ‘What are some of the stories we are going to share?’ And this is across contexts. Could be for a pitch, an important client meeting, a team briefing or even a corridor conversation.

A few years ago, I was featured in BOSS Magazine, along with some of my clients from Nab, Ericsson and Accenture. The then Managing Director of Accenture, Jack Percy, is quoted as saying ‘Storytelling doubled our revenue.’ The key reason was that their organisation embraced a business storytelling mindset.

Power Play

Great leaders are mega influencers, but could their tools of influence be out of date? To influence today, you need more than just the traditional approaches of yell and tell (coercion) and sell (persuasion). With this book, learn new and commercially savvy alternatives that will help you deliver outstanding results in the modern workplace. Influencing others isn’t magic – it’s a skill that you can make work for you.

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