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A Fool’s Tale (or 7 ways to use the power of stories)

Happy April Fool’s Day.

Did a bit of poking around about April Fool’s Day (some web pages about it are listed at the end of the email) and it seems to stem from the era when countries in Europe switched the New Year to January 1st from after the spring equinox (a party which started in March and continued to April 1st). There were those who didn’t want to change their new year and were ridiculed, made fun of and called ‘fools’.

So I could write about the fool in all of us who is unwilling to make changes, but I won’t (maybe another time).

Instead, I was thinking of the fool himself, or court jester. The jester is an interesting phenomenon – while he often became the scapegoat in court, he was also extremely bright – and spoke about things to superiors (the king, usually) that no one else would.

Jesters told truths that others could or would not. And how did they do it? Through stories.

Stories are a wonderful means in which to express ourselves, share with others, tell truths (as well as untruths). They have a tendency to talk directly to the subconscious which makes them more powerful.

Here are seven valuable features about stories that make them important in our lives as well as reasons why we should all practice our storytelling:

1. Stories are a medium of collective learning and memory. When we were told fairytales in our younger years they were usually passed down from generation to generation, with values and ideas attached to them. Many of them you probably still remember – stories stick.

2. Stories are memorable because they tend to be brief. You know how a quick outline of something that happened at work or home can be passed on with the next phone call. Stories spread.

3. Stories help us grasp difficult concepts. With metaphors and tales, we can impart complex concepts to others. Stories help to interpret.

 

4. The mind works in pictures and when we tell stories we tend to picture what’s happening, making it easier to store for the next time. Stories illustrate for us.

 

5. Stories get people involved. When the words to a story aren’t enough, people add to the story themselves and become invested (take part) in it.  Stories engage.

 

6. Stories can imply indirectly. Instead of ‘naming names’, stories can outline in ‘pretend’ what might be happening in reality, but no one has to go on the defensive. They can ‘skirt the issue’ while getting to the heart of the matter. Stores save face.

 

7. Stories can also cross boundaries when told in very broad concepts. The story of a ‘family’ may be played out very differently from place to place, country to country, but the broad concept is understood across borders.  Stories have universal resonance.

 

How can you use stories in your everyday life?

  • To      pass on information, concepts, ideas, values, examples…
  • To      save time (in explanations)
  • To      clarify
  • To      envision future opportunities or initiatives
  • To      get buy-in
  • To      be diplomatic
  • To      bridge gaps

 

Have a wonderful April!

 

April Fool’s References:

<http://wilstar.com/holidays/aprilfool.htm>
<http://www.infoplease.com/spot/aprilfools1.html>

“The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.” –Mark Twain

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