Storytelling is an age-old means of landing a message; sometimes using fantasy, sometimes using fiction, sometimes a parable, always a real-life impact. There are characters, plots, storylines, locations. This has now spilled over into the business world.
I read an article this morning by self-mastery coach Connor Beaton who said that words in themselves are not as powerful, as much as the action it incites. Whether it’s the action it incites in yourself or in others.
As we’re still in breast cancer awareness month here in South Africa, I’d like to tell the story of how the words of a dear friend of mine, Shauna Arendse, who is a breast cancer survivor, incited in me a newfound appreciation for storytelling.
Shauna’s story goes a little something like this (my grossly summarised version):
– She goes to the doctor for persistent pins and needles in her arm all the way down to her fingertips
– They give her antibiotics as they thought it was an abscess and sent her on her way
– A week later she gets a call from her doctor who informs her she’s got breast cancer
– Panic sets in
– Together with a medical team, they chart a treatment plan
– Before embarking on the treatment, Shauna decides to take a detour
– She decides that her illness is really the manifestation of lifelong undealt with issues.
– She then determines to dig deep into what her story is, make peace with what is truly hurting her and tells that story with pride – in all its grit and glory! This is the part that really blows my mind.
– She then starts her cancer treatment, which includes a double mastectomy
– She’s now two and a half years cancer-free, has a healthy, active lifestyle and gives all the praise to God.
Man, to tell you that I’m inspired by her story would be an understatement, and it’s not only because she’s my friend. But because in my line of work, communications, storytelling forms an integral part of our clients’ communications strategies.
The modern-day consumer is about more than just buying a service or product. They want to spend their money where there are shared values, and this is only determined when they have a resonance with your brand. They want to connect with the brand and that connection is what fosters loyalty.
Above all, what Shauna’s story has taught me that without authenticity, your story won’t have an impact. What’s your story?
*Cindy-Lee Minnaar is communications specialist and the co-founder of Indika Communications.
(For more on our coverage of Breast Cancer Month celebrations and activities in South Africa, click here).