Crafting Stories to Change the World (part 1)

Why Tell Stories?

What makes one person effective and another powerless?

The key difference is in the stories that these people tell. The mover and shaker says, “Money can buy change.” He either has the money to start with, or he finds it. The powerless say, “I don’t have enough money to buy change.” Or even worse, “I’ll never have enough money to buy change.”

One story empowers, the other story cripples. One cre- ates opportunity; the second paralyzes.

The sad truth is that many people believe their own crippling stories. They don’t understand that these narra- tives that they tell themselves and others are just “stories.” They believe them to be “truth.” There is often evidence to “prove” the story is true.
Which is more true?

  • “They’ll never listen. They’re stupid. They’re lazy.”
  • “They don’t understand. They don’t know. I’ll help.”

Notice the existing stories.

Are you stuck in a story? What are the stories you tell about the world, your business, your organization, your city, your community, your family, yourself? Are these stories useful, inspiring and productive? Do they get to the heart of what your organization is about and what it means to create?

Now take a moment and make up a new, alterna- tive story. One you’d like better. It doesn’t matter if it’s “true”—you will make it true. Reshape the story. Invent a happier ending. A breakthrough improvement. An incre- mental, but sustainable change…

Are these optimistic stories any less possible than the pessimistic ones? What is the difference between a com- munity that says, “It’s terrible, the pollution, the sprawl. Everything is out of control.” and a community that says, “We are doing whatever it takes to make our world safe and give our children better futures.”

<To be Continued>

This is part of an ongoing series of articles based on my “Crafting Stories to Change the World” workshop for businesses, non-profits, and individuals interested in making a difference. More information at