Storytelling for Influence – The ‘What if?’
The ‘what if?’ is one great way to use your storytelling for influence. How would your story have been different? We all like to ponder how various decisions may have influenced our path.
Have you seen the movie Sliding Doors? The character played by Gwyneth Paltrow arrives at the train station, misses the train by seconds and gets on another. The rest of the movie runs the parallel story of her life with the two paths she could take.
I sometimes daydream about the choices I’ve made, the chances I’ve taken. At times, I wonder just for a second (no point wasting time on things you can’t change!), how life may have been different if I’d taken the alternative option.
Time for a holiday
After I completed 6 years of training (first as a Registered Nurse, then as a Midwife and further training to be a neonatal intensive care specialist), I felt like a having an adventure. I answered an ad seeking experienced nurses to work for 3-6 months in Australia, and I was accepted.
I knew nothing about where I would be staying or working. A plane ticket arrived in the mail and I set off on my working holiday with a small backpack and a phone number of a lady called Joan.
I was collected by the hospital representative and taken to my new “home”at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. It was 3 am.
Bring the English lady some tea
I’d never been referred to as an English lady! And I certainly didn’t feel like tea after a 28-hour flight!
She made an assumption that all English people drink a lot of tea – there’s some truth in that! She then showed me to my room in the nurses’ residence and told me hospital orientation would begin the next morning.
My first day
My first day began at 8 am. I was told I’d be working in the unit for drug dependent women and their newborn babies. I didn’t realise at that time how devastating the effects of drug use are on women and their babies. It was a tough gig and heartbreaking most of the time.
The first stop on the tour of the hospital was the melanoma (skin cancer) ward. There I met a farmer with a hole in his face where his nose used to be, a retired postman who was happy to show off his new prosthetic ears and a 27-year-old surfer who had just been given news that his melanoma had spread to his bones and he’d be dead within 6 months.
The trip to that ward was a sure way to get across the message of how harmful the sun is. This is a great example of how these patients used storytelling for influence – whether they meant to or not!
Those images stuck in my mind
I can still remember every word of the stories of those men in the melanoma ward. Ever since, I have happily remained a pearly white colour, in fear of those harmful Australian rays. Storytelling for influence…check.
My sliding door alternative was California. I’d been chatting with a recruitment company and at the time of my trip to Australia, I was also studying to take the exams required to work as a nurse in the USA. I never made it to California.
It’s coming up to 30 years since I came to Australia. My holiday turned into a permanent stay and a lifetime of adventures. I met my husband, have raised 3 beautiful daughters and live not far from the ocean in Western Australia with my family and a retired greyhound.
I wouldn’t change a thing but do sometimes get an inkling of how my life may have turned out so differently if I’d moved to California, or returned to England after my 3-month working holiday.
The tables have turned
Coincidently this week, my middle daughter embarks on a holiday to the UK and Europe for 10 weeks. Will she decide to stay? As a mother, I can now fully understand how my mother felt when my holiday became a permanent move.
Do you have a sliding door story? Has someone else’s storytelling influenced your own decisions?
What’s your Story? Your story is worth sharing.
If you would like to chat with me about how to how to use your storytelling for influence, attend a workshop, or share a story at one of my live storytelling events then I’d love to hear from you.
As a storytelling expert, known as The Story Midwife, I help leaders to create compelling presentations through business storytelling.
Before becoming a Professional Speaker, I worked for over twenty years as a midwife.
I now live and breathe stories as a speaker, trainer, performer and coach.
As a World Class Speaking & Storytelling Coach, I’ll help you mine, refine and deliver a captivating story for your business or brand. Whether it is the boardroom, podium or stage; I can show you how to develop a persuasive presentation with a compelling story that will be hard to forget by anyone who gets to experience it.
If you would like to find out about training for your team, I’d love to hear from you. Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or call +61 (0)438 902042.