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The Key Role of Storytelling

The Key Role of Storytelling
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This excerpt from The Shift from Me to Team, which will be published this year, looks at the role of storytelling in the identity of your organization.

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Storytelling plays a significant role in Culture Clarification. Before the written word, all knowledge was passed through storytelling. Humans are wired to learn and grow from storytelling. Stories paint pictures that lead to feelings that impact our decision-making. Stories connect to feelings of right and wrong, good and bad. Our personal values filter helps us stay on course. That values filter becomes stronger with tried-and-true stories of traditional decision making that led to the results we desire.

During the retreat, team members share stories of people doing their best under pressure, living up to their values/principles. These stories surface what we’d like to be as an organization. Themes that touch our feelings are the keys to the storytelling process. Team members experience the release of the hormones serotonin and oxytocin and are left feeling safer and more secure as a result.

Sharing stories of organizational Peak Performance, of people performing their best under pressure, has the power to change the lens through which team members view the organization and set expectations for themselves and each other. The purpose is to move the organization toward their strengths and capabilities.

As stories of significance surface, team members are emotionally moved. They are energized and grateful to have the opportunity to shape the organization’s Core Identity. The retreat establishes storytelling as a means for team members to clarify what they look like at their best for today, setting the stage for actions tomorrow. The goal is to convert the words that compose their carefully created Core Identity into feelings. This takes time, but after the exemplary stories have been told for years, the words become feelings, and team members react under pressure, naturally at their best. This is the engine that drives the sustainability of the organization.