We tell a story from the minute we show up; What we look like, sound like, and how comfortable we appear—it all tells a story. We learn about others, too, not only from how they present themselves, but through the stories they tell. It comes across; with the details they choose to share and with the emotion they attach to or try to withhold from the story. We are inspired by stories or warned by them or delightfully tickled! Stories are our teachers. They open hearts.
Stories hold power
When I wrote my memoir, I included a story titled: “The Roundest Face In America.” I was a young actress, early in my career and frustrated that I wasn’t booking national commercials. All the best jobs seemed to go to models with no acting experience. When I asked a casting director for advice, he bluntly told me that, because my face was so round, test market audiences tended to remember my face, but not the product I was holding. “That’s death in marketing,” said the casting director, so I asked him what I could do.
“Break your jaw.”
“Break your jaw,” he advised. “You’ll be wired up for 7 weeks, drink all your meals through a straw, and your voice may never be the same, but your face will be oval. You will have the face that America forgets.”
I remember stumbling out of the building in shock that day. I slumped down on a street corner and sobbed, thinking my acting career was over. A good friend sat down, too, and tried to console me. “Why can’t you just sell round products, like tires or Oreos?” An epiphany! From that moment on, I embraced my “Roundest Face in America” and my career took off.
Today, I work with speakers to help them to identify and embody their authentic selves, their “roundest face.” By examining my own story, I realize I am passing it along. That’s story power.