What do you want people to remember?

My daddy was a storyteller. I loved his stories. They were just one of the reasons I so enjoyed spending time with him.  He always had a story to share.  Sometimes it was a new story; often it was one I’d heard before.

He had stories about growing up, stories about the Navy, stories about the job.  He had stories about courting my mom, stories about playing cards, stories about me.  Most of all he had stories about the consequences of behaving one way or another.

Some of his stories were short, some not so; many of his stories were funny, but not all. 

Daddy was a brick mason who specialized in residential remodeling. He used to tell a story about his favorite laborer, Junie.  Daddy discouraged sitting down on the job.  If you’d finished what he’d asked you to do, he’d say, “look around and find someplace to keep moving. No homeowner wants to look out the window and see men sitting around. They already think the job costs too much and seeing guys sitting around just confirms that suspicion.”

Well, one day daddy had left Junie on a job site digging the footing for an addition.  The freeze line in Virginia is 16 inches and so footings for foundations have to be at least 18 inches below the grade. Well, Junie got down to 18 inches and daddy hadn’t returned. So, Junie tidied up the job site and daddy still hadn’t returned.  For the next several hours Junie squared off the edges of the footing and smoothed out the bottom and by the time daddy returned Junie was standing almost up to his hips in ground.  He started apologizing up and down and daddy told him to relax.  He’d done what he’d been told and daddy accepted the responsibility for the results.  That little addition had a serious foundation.

Daddy used to tell that story over and over again.  He had a bias for action and that story dove tailed with one of his sayings, “Do something. I can fix wrong, I can’t fix nothing.”  Grammatically incorrect, but it made the point and has stuck with me to this day.

My dad passed away back in ’92 and yet all these years later when I rack my brain looking for a solution, frequently the way to that solution is led by remembering one of his stories.

When you’re not around; what do you want your children to remember? Your grandchildren? When you’re not there; what do want your colleagues to remember? Your employees? What’s important to you? Do you share the wisdom your elders shared with you?  What about the lessons you’ve learned the hard way over the years?

Stories are infectious. They’re easier to remember than facts alone and more effective at engendering action. There’s a dictum in sales that “Facts tell, stories sell.”  Or put another way, stories influence behavior.

I encourage you to spend a little time thinking about what you have to offer, that you’d like people to remember and then invest a little more time in packaging the value you have to offer in an effective form, i.e. as stories.

I can promise you, you’ll be pleased with the ROI.  Worst case scenario, a little quiet time spent reflecting brings perspective.  More likely, the world will be a better place for your sharing your wisdom in an accessible manner.

Brighten my day; tell me a story.