The Stories That Bind Us--How Narrative Shapes Identity...[Brand Story}

 Image Credit: www.pexels.com

Image Credit: www.pexels.com

"What story will you write for yourself? What story will you share with the world? In the end it is our stories that bind us, that heal us, and that grow us."

- Nicole Cody


It's said that every person has a story. It's true. We all have a story. But do you think you have a story worth telling? Well I'm here to tell you that I believe you do. Because if I didn't think you had a story worth telling, I wouldn't be here right now talking to you, and I wouldn't be here right now, telling my client's stories and documenting them in the only way I know how to...visually.

Those like us who have taken the road-less-travelled and pursued the calling in our hearts to create or go into business, I think have some of the most interesting stories. Usually, business people are more driven than your average person and have an insatiable thirst to make their mark upon the world in some way--to make a difference. Usually, there's a reason behind that drive and it's often wrapped up within a story. It's often a journey made up of many stories along the way. How we got to where we are today matters, however humble the road we've travelled.

Lately, I've been a little frustrated with being in business and having to be so visible--feeling like the proverbial hamster on the social media marketing wheel, and all that goes with building a business in this digital era. I don't know about you, but sometimes like now, I feel a little lost and I become overwhelmed, not knowing where I begin and where my business ends--the lines get blurred and I feel like just another 'face' out there whose voice becomes drowned out among the myriad of other voices just like my own--all scrambling to make sense of our own place in the world and having to make a life that is financially viable and sustainable--and questioning whether our place in this world has real value.

Do you ever feel like that sometimes?

It's times like these that I take a step back. I turn and look back to see how far I've come. I turn to look back at the stories I've created or been a part of in my life. It helps me make sense of who I am and why I'm here right now doing what I'm doing. 

The Stories That Bind Us

So I love stories...all kinds of stories. I'm fascinated with stories and the human psyche. Sad stories...happy stories, and all those in-between--they make our lives more meaningful. Because without grief, how would we come to know true joy? Without challenges, how would we come to know and appreciate our triumphs?

And here's an interesting thing...what we know about our own family stories and narratives, often plays an integral role in how we approach business and to a certain extent, how resilient we are when it comes to the challenges we face.

It was observed by American psychologist, Sarah Duke, the wife of Dr Marshal Duke of  Emory University, who works with children with learning disabilities that the students who do better at facing challenges were the ones who knew a lot about their families. Dr Marshal Duke and colleague, Robyn Fivush set out to test Sarah Duke's hypothesis, and came up  with a measure called the 'Do You Know?' scale that asked children to answer twenty questions. Some of those questions included examples such as: "Do you know where you grandparents grew up? Do you know where your parents met? Do you know the story of your birth?"

[Excerpt from article, The Stories That Bind Us, by Bruce Feiler, New York Times, March 2013]  "Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush asked those questions of four dozen families in the summer of 2001, and taped several of their dinner table conversations. They then compared the children’s results to a battery of psychological tests the children had taken, and reached an overwhelming conclusion. The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. The “Do You Know?” scale turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness."

Dr Duke goes on to say that the answers are to do with a child's sense of being part of a larger family...a family that has a unifying narrative. And that "the children who have the most self-confidence have what he and Dr. Fivush call a strong 'intergenerational self'. They know they belong to something bigger than themselves."

So what do narratives have to do with business?

I quote from the same excerpt above..."Leaders in other fields have found similar results. Many groups use what sociologists call sense-making, the building of a narrative that explains what the group is about. Jim Collins, a management expert and author of “Good to Great,” told me that successful human enterprises of any kind, from companies to countries, go out of their way to capture their core identity."

And the core identity--the who and why of who we are and how our businesses came about, all stem from our stories and narratives. In knowing and appreciating our own significance in these stories, we come to feel like we too belong to something bigger than ourselves. This gives us the courage and resilience to keep going in the face of challenges. 

But most importantly, it also gives our customers a sense of something bigger that they too, can feel a part of. So if you ever wonder about the significance of your own stories--don't question that, but look deeper into it.  

Because all we need to do as business owners is find the RIGHT STORIES that speak to our customers, strongly connects and resonates with them, and then find ways of authentically telling those stories to attract our ideal customers and keep them coming back for more.

So what stories are you writing for yourself and your business, sharing with the world and in turn helping to bind, heal and grow yourself and others?  I'd love to know! So if ever you feel like sharing a little of your story, I'm here to listen. 

Kerry :) x