Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stories, Not Data at Heart of Human Motivation

Recently, the Vancouver Sun ran a story under this title describing how stories are really at the heart of human motivation, much more than data. Stories have the essential quality of being able tap into the emotional "root system" that drives all of us. At Think-a-lot Toys, this is music to our ears.

As the author of the article points out, "The work of the great mythologist Joseph Campbell demonstrated that human beings the world over are wired to respond to storytelling. This is because we are emotional, meaning-making creatures first, and what stir us are efforts and opportunities that capture our imagination." Stories, it seems, drive us and have driven us for centuries. And the better we get at telling stories--and listening to the wisdom of others' stories--the better we become at motivating not only ourselves but others.

In fact, the former CEO of Sony Pictures, Peter Guber, has just come out with a new book titled "Tell to Win"and in it he shares that a lifetime of refining his own storytelling ability has accounted for the lion's share of his success. He shares how he motivated people first through their heart or gut and then followed up with the reasons to act. And, framing his vision through stories were key to his success.

What this tells me is that storytelling is an important art that we need to nurture throughout life. Whether we are regaling others with our humorous or heartbreaking stories of daily life or we are sharing the deeper stories of our own hero's journey, it is important to remember that storytelling is more important than data, just as imagination is more important than knowledge.

Albert Einstein captured this well when he said that "not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts."

For the full version of this story by Juma Wood, visit

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