5 Reasons Impactful Leaders Need Storytelling Skills How learning the art of storytelling can help you positively influence the world around you.
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Science shows that our minds are hardwired to tune into stories, and people who can tell the best stories are perceived as more attractive. The ability to tell a compelling story offers a subtle way for entrepreneurs to shift others' thinking and make a genuine impact in the world. Great storytellers sweep us into their milieu, motivate us to take action and inspire us to become more than we are.
Here are five ways that learning the art of storytelling can help you positively influence the world around you:
1. The authentic nature of your stories builds trust
You don't have to think of yourself as a storyteller or a "creative" to make an impact. Whether you realize it or not, you have spent your entire life creating stories and images of other people. In fact, your whole perception of reality is just the story your brain has created for itself.
This is the natural, usual way for humans to think. Our brains are wired to develop a seamless story about the world, so you already have decades of unconscious practice telling convincing, intricate stories.
You don't have to "force it" to be a compelling storyteller. Simply practice talking about your life. Learn how to distill the most valuable details and, above all, remain authentic. Your audience will be able to sense the truth of your stories and feel like they can trust you.
Related: Why Storytelling Is a Skill that Every Entrepreneur Should Practice
2. Your stories help make deep, lasting connections
Even if you aren't directly speaking about your values, vision or principles, the stories you tell can, in turn, tell the world all about who you are. Your stories will help you connect with people from all different places, generations and lifestyles because they will resonate deeply.
For example, people who consistently read stories from a particular person begin to feel personally invested in the author's life. They feel as if they know the author and want to get even closer. Meaningful, lasting connections can quickly grow from these types of relationships.
3. You build a community of like-minded people
Stories are able to bring together people who share a common thread with you and each other. Having authentic, engaging stories is the perfect foundation for an impactful, tight-knit community because it imparts new information and allows your audience to imagine themselves in that role and feel more connected and ready to act.
One well-known example of this is Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso's community of supportive, empowered women that all came together as a result of her sharing an honest memoir that recounted her journey as an entrepreneur, author and woman blazing her own path through the world of business.
Chris Dixon at Andreessen Horowitz, a partner of prominent venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, is another example. He is arguably the most sought-after venture capitalist in the crypto scene, so startup founders devour his writings and would follow his advice. Dixon's influence helps him to attract the most lucrative and promising startups and to be dubbed the world's top crypto investor by Fortune and other business magazines. Another investor, Paul Graham, has become an idol in the American startup scene not only by co-founding Y Combinator but also through his industry-related and philosophical writings on his website and Twitter (Graham has over 1.6M followers).
Related: Stories Are Entrepreneurs' Most Powerful Tool. But What Ingredient Gives Them Power?
4. Your stories are your legacy
If nothing else, think about this: The only story the world knows about you is the one you're telling. That old saying, "If you want something done right, do it yourself," also applies to the story you leave behind.
In his book, Yours Truly, longtime Wall Street Journal obituary writer James R. Hagerty wrote, "Someday, your life story is likely to be boiled down to a few lines. If you leave things to chance, your obituary is almost sure to be solemn, formulaic and full of errors — an obligatory final chapter written in haste by others."
To avoid this, start preserving your personal story as soon as possible. Record your experiences, insights, feelings and inner voice as a way to not only build a worthwhile legacy but also get to know yourself on an even deeper level.
Developing your story also helps you reflect on your present and look at your life from a different angle. "Reviewing your life story helps you think about what you're doing with your time on Earth and whether you're on the right path. It isn't too late to improve the narrative with a stronger ending," concludes Hagerty.
5. Sharing your story can be the catalyst for someone else
Finally, you can never know how and when your story might completely change someone else's direction in life. Simply being honest and vocal about your life could be the catalyst needed to inspire the next world-changing leader or give someone the courage to forge a new path for themselves.
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian is an excellent example of this. His life motto has always been to "make the world suck less," and his entire career has backed this up. From Reddit alone, Ohanian has enabled thousands of people to publish books, start businesses and create their own inspiring communities.
Related: The 5 Elements of Storytelling Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know
Stories provide so many benefits to us as humans. They help us shape our identities, teach and learn social values, provide comfort, hope and courage, and create social connections that transcend generations, cultures and time.
Learning how to tell an evocative story will not only trigger emotional connection but provide a common ground that helps you communicate with people from all walks of life, inspiring change and leading others to a better future.