Why do stories matter to you?

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We’re getting personal on why stories matter.

Much of our daily work is centered around helping our clients discover and share the authentic stories that activate their communities.  In the spirit of storytelling week, we’re taking a step back to reflect on a more basic question. Where did this shared passion for storytelling come from? Why do we do this work every day? Let’s get to the heart of the matter:

Why do stories matter to you?

Jonathan: Stories help us make sense of the world. Today we have more information than ever, yet we’re constantly searching for meaning. Stories are vehicles for our ideas—fueled by emotion, driven by characters, and grounded in a sense of place. We keep returning to stories because that’s what has always brought us together. Stories are who we are, where we’re from, why we’re here, and what we hope to be.

Marie:  Stories color the world. They are the device we use to transmit our emotions. And they shape the mysterious in-betweens and unknowns of our lives through a radiant spectrum of gestures and sounds—connecting people, enabling sharing, creating communities. Inspiring imaginations, warming hearts, and demanding laughs. Stories help us give shape to the world around us.

Hannah: Why do stories matter to me? Because every voice matters. And every voice deserves to be heard. Stories have the power of exposing commonalities and connections between two complete strangers. The art of storytelling also means active listening, being fully engaged in the moment and developing curiosity in others.

Elise: Stories help me understand the world through the lens of another —an author, an actor, a dancer, a singer. They let me experience situations and emotions I wouldn’t otherwise understand. Working at New Kind has taught me the power of story to unite communities of people around a common goal or mission. We remember stories so much better than rote information—stories speak to something deeper.

Matt:  I measure the power of a story by the degree to which it brings me into its world. Can I lose myself in it? Am I swept into the story alongside the characters? The recent movie Interstellar completely pulled me into the big questions the characters were asking: Where are we going as a human race? How does time work? The characters, with the soundtrack being a character in it’s own right, bring me into the conversation with them. In some cases, I can see myself in their shoes. Or it’s a way of exploring what life for others looks like.

I love movies for that reason—because they inspire my imagination visually, and it can be such a sensory experience. Reading is equally inspirational, but in a different way. Reading books sucks me into a rich world that I construct in my own head. And the cadence is different because when I pause from reading I often think about the author’s use of language to spark my brain. It’s a fascinating thing.

When looking at stories, I put less stock in whether a story is believable based on what I know about reality today. I focus more on what I can take from it — does it inspire, validate, or teach me something new? After all, the storyteller is creating a world to inhabit, and I love giving myself over to the journey through the world we’re creating together.

Nation: Megan Daum described stories in a particularly poignant way, “The best ones come from the outside world, where careful listening and a resistance to preconceptions can yield stories that do all the things we want and need stories to do— split sides, break hearts, open minds or even change them.”

Chris: The most simple, powerful thing I love about stories is that they don’t feel like work. In our jobs, most of us face an endless parade of boring PowerPoint presentations, brutal status meetings, and spreadsheets overflowing with context-less data. Stories provide a break (and often a breakthrough)–a dose of humanity in an often inhumane working world. They remind us that we are naturally playful, loving, and interesting people and not mindless automatons.

Now we’d love to know what you think. Why do stories matter you? Share with us on Twitter @newkind or on Facebook.

Want to grow more comfortable as a storyteller? Join us for The Power of Story Workshop on April 22. Learn more and sign up here. You’ll leave equipped and inspired to better bring your organization’s story to life.

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New Kind is a branding agency for organizations that are inventing or reinventing themselves

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