This reminds me of a story when I was branch manager of a Southern California S&L back in the 1980’s. My supervisor was Samantha (Sammy) Galluzzo. Our branch was open every Saturday but Sammy was never available because she went to the City of Hope each weekend. When I first found out where she was going I wasn’t sure if she was going in for treatment or testing.
One day, she shared with me the reason for her weekly attendance. She told me that she had had cancer. She recalled in some detail her weekly trips for chemotherapy. She said, “The minute I got out of the car and saw the hospital building, where my therapy would take place, I would immediately get sick.”
She continued, “There was a young girl who brought me and the other patients blankets, magazines, and even games to occupy our minds. She would be so encouraging always saying, “This will soon be over and you will be well and never have to return—I know you will do fine.””
Sammy decided to ask her what cancer she had beaten and her reply was not comforting, “Oh, I’ve never had cancer, I’m just a volunteer.”
Sammy said she felt abandoned at that point. All the good wishes and encouragement that this young girl had given was useless since she never had the experience. She told me that she made a prayer that if God spared her she would return. She would be able to tell others she knew what they were going through because she had also gone through the same treatment. She would become the light at the end of long dark tunnel.
Well, Sammy was cured and she kept her promise. Now when she got out of her car she could stare at the building that once made her sick and no longer feel the sickness but the strength to challenge others as a form of encouragement. Hidden in her thoughts were the hopes that she might live long enough to see that building torn down.
Sammy used Strategic Stories from her own life experiences to give hope and encouragement to other cancer patients. She volunteered, brought in the blankets, magazines and games, but she also brought in something more powerful—her testimony and strength.
I recalled this story because Strategic Stories are more powerful when they come from your own stories, and if you are telling another person’s story then you must be able to identify with the emotions to deliver the message.
Whenever you think, “I’ve been there,” you are hovering over a story that holds not only your experience but your emotions as well. Leonardo Da Vinci wrote, “There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.” Knowing which class of people, you are addressing, while understanding the real obstacle restricting movement forward are all part of Strategic Storytelling.
See you next week with more Strategic Story tips.