Before radio, television, Netflix, xBox, internet and all other digital inventions, people sat together by a fireplace telling each other stories, drawing them in the sand or even on walls. Some were able to tell thrilling stories, others focused more on humour and still others simply preferred to listen. Even if our whole world is changing fast, people need stories then, as now.
John Lasseter, Producer and Chief Creative Officer at Pixar describes this phenomenon as follows: “If you’re sitting in your minivan and playing our computer animation films for your kids in the back seat, is it the animation that entertains you while you’re driving and listening? No, it’s the Story telling. That’s why we put so much emphasis on the story. No matter how great the animation, it won’t save a bad story.”
Because well told stories convey a certain sense and add value, you feel entertained, informed or even inspired. The human brain has a natural affinity for narrative construction.
The task of a good storyteller is to enchant people with images and words, to inspire them and to lead them to act on this impulse. Marketing professor Jennifer Aaker, from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, knows about the value of a good story. “The research shows that our brain is not hardwired to understand logic or keep facts for very long. Our brain is wired to understand and preserve stories,” explains Aaker. “A story is a journey that moves the listener, and when the listener goes on that journey, he feels different and the result is persuasion and sometimes action.”
Everyone knows the film Rocky starring Sylvester Stallone. This film works so well because it perfectly implements the classic method of storytelling. You can find the hero’s journey in almost every good story. The hero stumbles, doesn’t get along, you develop compassion, maybe you find yourself in him. The hero is in a deep crisis, but there are signs how he can free himself. In the end there is a resurrection, the hero leaves his past behind. A happy ending par excellence.
Stories have the incredible power to overcome the boundaries between past, present and future. We are all stories. They show that our life has a meaning.
Image: Henry Be