Bring in the power of storytelling

Item 20 on Ray Sims's "What to do on behalf of informal learning?" is "Bring in the power of storytelling". Ray has begun to cover the many uses of storytelling. I'll add to that with some insights into the POWER of storytelling.

Archetypal: When we approach a life challenge like a hero/heroine, we invoke a rich tradition and archetypal dimensions to our fate. We tap into the vast realms of mythology, fairy tales and dream symbolism. We bring our unique inflection to the eternal pattern of heroism, We are leaving the familiar by crossing a threshold like others before us. Our encounters with antagonists heighten our role as a protagonist. The temptations to abandon our calling remind us of characters in other stories.

Symbolic: When we become immersed in stories, we suspend our rejection of fantasy. "Once upon a time" transcends the slow march of time and practicalities of living. We enter into a timeless realm where small incidents have great significance. We feel like we are being given lessons with pictures and symbolism. Things happen for profound reasons. The conflicts between characters are larger than life.

Emotional: When a story stays with us, the plot got to us. The character tensions evoked moods and stirred our emotions. We left the realm of rational reasoning and logical constructs. Vividly portrayed scenes prove to be unforgettable. We can picture that situation over and over again. The incident in the story comes to mind in other situations. We feel guided and comforted in our own trials and tribulations.

Fateful: When a story sees every character's life as an unfolding story, it speaks to the truth of our lives. The arc of each character reflects an underlying truth of how we grow up through adversity. The tale resonates with a deep sense of why we are here and what we are doing by being alive.

When stories invoke these kinds of power, insights and changes happen without getting taught. Informal learning replaces formal instruction. Realizations dawn on the minds of the listeners or viewers. The story invokes hidden potentials for growing, changing, learning and creating.


  1. Thanks Tom

    This saves me a next post in the 'build' on the topic and says it better than I would have.

    So...we now have some of the 'where' and some of the 'why' (powerful). Where I'd like to go next is deeper on the 'how' as that is were I personally feel challenged.

    Be well,

  2. I took on the challenge of "how to fix boring stories" today. I'm hoping that is applicable to designers wondering how to create powerful stories also.