The Stories We Tell (Part 1)

One of the first news stories I read this morning in the USA Today Money section online was titled, Kraft Shares Soar as Investors Drink Heinz-Kraft “Kool-Aid.” The article emphasized the 30%-plus surge in Kraft stocks that happened in the wake of the announced merger. What is fascinating to me is not the increase in stocks or the actual merger, it is the actions people took based on a story. No actual merger has happened yet. Only a story was told of the merger.   People heard this story, interpreted it as a believable and positive change, and then took action with their resources to purchase stocks.

Stories are powerful influencing tools leaders have at their disposal. Stories surround us every day and influence our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Some of these stories are the tales we tell ourselves like, “I’m too busy to have one-on-one coaching sessions consistently with my associates.” I will refer to these stories as internal stories.

Other stories are the stories we hear and share publically. These will be called external stories. We hear, see, or read these stories everyday as consumers of stories. These stories are the articles, presentations, small talk, advertisements, and co-worker dialogue we ingest constantly.   In addition, we share our stories with the people around us, co-workers, spouse, friends, children, etc… The external stories we share influence these people, both positively and negatively.

Over the next several articles, I will explore the power of stories from both an internal and external perspective. I am confident that the stories we tell ourselves, the stories we consume, and the stories we share with others define our motives, actions, beliefs, feelings, and understandings. These stories shape how we lead and the responsiveness of those we influence.

The goal of these articles is to help you become a thoughtful and intentional storyteller to enable you to lead yourself and others more effectively. If you are willing to join me on this adventure, I have a simple starting exercise for you.


  • Pick one day of the week to do this exercise.
  • Throughout the day, listen and watch for stories that you hear and/or see.
  • When you identify a story, text yourself the theme or message of the story as you understand it.
  • Set a goal to do this a minimum of five times.
  • The next morning, take 10 minutes to review the story themes you identified. Write how these stories influenced your thinking, feelings, or actions and see what you discover.

This is Part 1 in the Stories series. Read Part 2 HERE.