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Telling Stories

“The true beauty of a story is not in its apparent conclusion but in the alteration in the mind of the reader that has occurred along the way.” – George Saunders, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain

The more I live, the more I see the connection between success in any pursuit and the connection you make with your audience. And this connection is directly related to the gravitational pull of our stories. When I was a shy kid I’d avoid telling stories because it put me squarely in the center of attention. I no longer worry about being the storyteller, because I’ve realized over time that the attention isn’t really on me at all, but on the story I’m telling.

Think about the last time you were listening to a powerful story. You were pulled in, compelled, maybe even fascinated. Each of us wants this kind of connection. Each of us wants a story to resonate. Each of us wants to be part of something. And when you have this level of audience engagement you’re halfway there. Just don’t let them down.

It goes without saying that this applies to writing as much as it does to a speech or conversation with someone. When you start stacking that pile of words together, who are you doing it for? Yourself? Nobody likes to listen to someone talking to themselves. No, craft your story for someone in your mind. Decide who the audience is and craft something that creates connection and transforms and shapes ideas.

Humans are either connected or driven apart through the stories we tell ourselves. Stories of religious and political views, ethnicity, sports and a hundred others. The best story tellers sprinkle a magic spell over the audience, drawing them in and making them a part of it. And that’s where the beauty is in a story. And a beautiful reason to master the art of telling it and then use it for good.

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