“Tell me a story.”
Beginning in childhood, we all ask to hear stories. They entertain us. They delight us. They help us make sense of a world that’s been there before us and that’s going on all around us, which we spend our lives trying to understand. As adults, we discover new techniques for making sense of the world: measurements, statistics, correlations, theory. Graphs and charts help us make discoveries. Photos and artwork call our attention in ways words can’t, and music touches us in places that words don’t. Still and all, when people mobilize to get things done, it’s usually because we have seen ourselves as characters in a story. The pictures, the numbers, and the words all come together and we see the present moment as part of an ongoing drama. When the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” that was one of the shortest stories ever told…and one of the most compelling.
I’ve come to realize that in my work life, what I do best and what I like to do the most is to tell the story of an organization, to make its case, so that people want to devote their time, their money, their energy, their ideas to helping it succeed. In my years at CAAS and in the nonprofit world, I’ve enjoyed many ways of communicating, from in-person and on-air interviews to written proposals, from helping Reflection Films produce a video about CAAS to helping Andy Metzger write articles about poverty for the Somerville Journal–and of course,writing this blog.
Note: this entry originally appeared in May 2012 on my personal blog.