On Narrative Strategy
Narrative strategy can help you plan your life more effectively and empower you to be the author of your own life story. Here Julie Hosler, Narrative Strategist and creator of The Strategic Space Personal Strategy Retreats, explains.
Narrative strategy is a powerful tool that uses storytelling techniques to help change individual lives. You can use storytelling to negotiate the space between where your story is currently, and where you want it to be– to close the gap between now and your future dreams, goals and ambitions. Think of your story as a journey, a roadmap as the route taken, and narrative strategy as the vehicle.
- Why are stories so important?
Stories are fundamental to who we are as human beings, and who we want to be, and no culture has existed without them. For over 27,000 years, since the first cave paintings were discovered, telling stories has been one of our most fundamental communication methods. They are how we talk, remember, and apply significance and meaning to our lives, and they’re used to transfer insights and morals, share survival techniques and methods, and keep entire cultures together.
Authors, filmmakers, artists, marketers, politicians, teachers, therapists and business leaders have all been using stories to bring visions to life in impactful ways, and so can we in our everyday lives.
A story is the meaning that we assign to a chain of events, either true or fictitious. A narrative is a story meant to support a particular viewpoint. A strategic narrative is a story that is purposefully created with meaningful elements and intention in order to produce a desired outcome. People make meaning – meaning is not made for us. Facts are useless unless they mean something, and we use stories to help us because:
• We internalize stories better than facts.
• Stories are how we learn and make sense of the world.
• We tell stories to transform ourselves.
• Stories help us heal.
• Stories help us operate with significance and meaning.
• Stories inspire us and drive change.
• Stories connect past, present and future.
• Stories can push us forward but can also hold us back.
A story is what you take with you. It’s a mental imprint that molds perceptions and touches the unconscious.
- How can a personal narrative empower?
Many people are caught up in the busyness of day-to-day life and may not be aware of the story that they are telling themselves and living through. Others may not realize that they are not only the protagonist or hero/heroine of their life’s story, but also the author. That they get to decide the meaning of their circumstances and life events in order to direct the outcome.
If you are passionate about the path that you are already on, you may be ready to expand the horizon and envision the next chapter. If you don’t like your story, you can write a new chapter, a plot twist, or a totally new ‘book’. But without a personal narrative we lose focus, drift to becoming something we never intended, or worse, let someone else tell our story for us.
If you want to live a more empowered, meaningful and inspired existence, then you must tell yourself better stories.
- What’s your story?
The words ‘authenticity’ and ‘author’ come from the same root. You are being authentic when you are the author of your own story. The people that we admire are the ones who create and live their own great story.
Storytelling is a lot like strategy – it has guidelines, not hard fast rules. It changes depending on the individual, experiences and circumstances.
Here are some prompts that you can consider as you begin building your own strategic narrative:
• What is your backstory?
• Do you like your main character?
• How are your values expressed in your story?
• Was there a defining moment that changed you?
• What is the title of your next chapter?
• What are the challenges that you will likely face?
• How could you structure the plot so that you – the protagonist – comes out on top?
• Do you overcome your challenges and where do you end up?
Spending the time to reflect on your answers to these questions can be instrumental in providing you with clarity of your vision for your life, career or business. Clarity is great, but it has to held onto or else it can fade. To stay true to your narrative, there is a simple question that you can ask yourself daily, and when faced with any decision: ‘Am I taking steps towards the outcome that I want, or away from it?’
To explore the whole process further, you can also go on a Personal Strategy Retreat. When was the last time you set aside four days (much less four minutes) for structured contemplation?
Book a personal strategy retreat with Julie Hosler
Julie Hosler is a narrative strategist who uses the transformative power of story to help individuals and brands achieve bigger things. You can also book her for private, bespoke retreats throughout the year in France, or join her on a group personal strategy retreat in Italy or France. Her next 4 night group personal strategy retreat will be held on a private island near Venice, Italy on May 23-27, 2018, or join her at a gorgeous chateaux in France, October 10-14, 2018. Explore Julie’s retreats, read our review of Julie’s retreat in France, or contact her at www.thestrategicspace.com.