Becoming a thought leader through storytelling.
I know this girl who went skydiving. It was her first time and she was pretty nervous but had seen so many of her friends go that she pushed those nerves aside and figured she’d take the proverbial (and in this case, quite literal) leap anyway.
She was falling through the air with pure exhilaration on her face. This was freakin’ awesome! She was aware of where the photographer was and she trying to look cute for the camera in her shots. I mean, these pics were going to be epic!
She tried not to feel disappointed when her instructor reached for the parachute cord. And she immediately started planning when her next jump would be — the thrill was addicting! But then her thoughts quickly changed as her instructor said, “Oh, shit!”
Now, I’m sure you can imagine this is not what ANYONE wants to hear from their instructors mouth when they are pulling on the parachute release cord. He reached for the backup release cord and my friend held her breath. “Oh, f*ck” is the next thing she heard.
At this point, I’m pretty sure any normal person would have passed out. My friend went from planning her next jump to watching her life flash before her eyes.
You’ll always remember that story, huh? (And it’s totally a true story!) – And before you wonder too much, my friend lived to tell this tale.
This could be a story about living life to the fullest because you never know when your last moment will be. It could be a story about how being a thrill seeking adrenaline junkie is dangerous to your health. (Unless you’re honing your differentiation point!) It could be a story about what you should do as an instructor if your parachute doesn’t open the first (or second!) time.
For our purposes it doesn’t matter WHAT the story is trying to convey. It matters only that it’s a STORY. This is the key to being a thought leader.
Stories are memorable. They engage people. They emotionally draw you in. Children learn morals through fables and fairy tales. Teenagers learn how to navigate high school through telling stories to their friends about every detail of their day. Adults learn new things (or escape!) through books or movies. We are all surrounded by stories every day. Your business is no different.
You want to be a thought leader. (If you don’t, you likely won’t be around in business much longer to TELL your story.) There’s more to being a thought leader than just thinking deep, innovative thoughts. You have to LEAD. Your employees, your industry, whoever it is you’re leading needs to be guided, informed, and engaged by what you’re telling them. Whether it’s in a blog, in a TED talk, or in your brand message. Whatever the form your thought leadership takes, it has to be a story.
That’s my thought anyways. I’d much rather listen to someone tell an interesting story that has a lesson in it than skimming a blog post that’s written like a textbook.
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*And to end the story I began with, my friend is just fine. Her instructor took out a pocket knife and cut open the bag and the parachute opened! She’s even been skydiving since — with no issue.