A story allows us to say what we need to say in business presentations without being direct or overly persuasive. It cloaks what we need to hear in a beautifully accessible way. So we understand the deeper meaning of the story and the deeper meaning of information, because of the shell we put around it – this narrative shell – the story.
Here is a story from an old Jewish folk tale – Truth and Story.
This is a story of 2 beautiful beautiful women.
Long, long ago two women lived in a small house at the edge of a village. These two women were exceedingly beautiful. One day they were having a discussion and this discussion soon became an argument. And this argument was about who was the most beautiful and who would be the most accepted by the village people. The argument became heated and so they decided they would have a contest. The contest was that they would both, one at a time, walk through the village, and they would see who had the most friends.
So, they agreed.
Truth went first. Truth walked down and as she walked down the central road of the village, the people who were out on their lawns began to ease back into their houses. Some of them who were up in the windows, closed their shutters. And by the time truth had got the end of the village, there were very few people left outside. So when she got to the end and as she was turning around, she thought to herself: I’m going to lose this contest. What can I do to make myself even more attractive? She thought to herself there is only one thing left to do – so she disrobed. She took off her great robe and she stood there completely naked. Then, she began to walk back through the village. Thinking that people would flock from their houses to see Truth’s beautiful body. But indeed, it was the opposite. All of the remaining people went back into their houses. They closed their shutters. And they disappeared. And she eventually ended up walking back all the way, by herself.
When she got to the end her companion, was waiting. Her companion was Story. Story asked her: Well, how did it go? Truth said: I can’t believe it. There was no one there. And Story said, one moment, let me try. And so Story left and she walked down the central road of the village.
As she walked all of the people began to come out of their houses. Their windows opened. They came out and began to talk amongst themselves. People were happy and it was a wonderful gathering. And Story continued to walk all the way to the end, with people streaming behind her. She turned around and walked back and the entire village gathered in the centre as she walked through. She got back to Truth. Truth was quite humble. She knew she lost and told Story: I’m sorry I lost the contest.
And I realise now that Story is more powerful than Truth.
Story walked up to her and said: It’s not that Story is more powerful. It’s just that nobody likes the Truth. And especially they don’t like the Naked Truth. To get across your point, what you need is the mantle of Story. Just then Story took off her beautiful multi-coloured cloak and draped it around the shoulders of Truth. And now when Truth went walking through the village, the people came out because now they wanted to hear what she had to say.
Share this story with your colleagues, to help one and all use the power of storytelling to tell naked truths.
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