Say ‘Thank You’ and Tell a Story Worth Hearing
Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools a leader has to realize their mission and bring about change in their organization. Here are three ways storytelling can improve your leadership and propel your team forward.
As a father, I have experienced first-hand that there is something special about the father-son relationship. Perhaps that is why the story of Dick and Rick Hoyt made such an impact on me.
Shortly after being born, little Rick Hoyt was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
The prognosis destroyed any hope of a normal life. No little league games.
There’s something about the unconditional love and the noble determination shown in this father-son story that inspires me.
For those who aren’t familiar with the Hoyt family, Rick, the son, was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy and confined to a wheelchair. One day, Rick wanted to support a local fundraiser by participating in a 5-mile benefit run. Dick, the father, embraced his son’s conviction by pushing his son through the whole 5 miles.
Since then, they have participated in thousands of events including marathons and Ironman races. I don’t know about you, but hearing the lengths to which Dick Hoyt goes to ensure that his son, Rick, is not defined by his limitations inspires me to be a better father, husband and friend. It motivates me to be a force that helps those around me to be more, do more, and achieve more.
Stories have the ability to change lives. We use stories to broaden our horizons, as instructional tools and to entertain. In fact, just like the Hoyt’s story inspired me to step up my game as a dad, your stories can inspire your donors to support more of the work you do.
They can serve as inspiration for your staff to keep working towards your goals and objectives, even when they’re not easily attained. Too often though, we are so focused on doing the work of our individual jobs that we fail to take the time to capture and tell the stories of impact.
Stories can propel you forward. Here’s how:
1. Stories stimulate the creative juices when we hit the proverbial wall.
We have all been there, staring at a document cursor, an empty canvas or the never-ending to-do list. The humdrum of daily life obscures our connection to our own passionate aspirations. Stories like the Hoyt’s connect with yesterday’s dreams and re-engage us to pursue our calling to impact the world.
2. Stories help us seize the day by illustrating the passion during the pursuit.
Inspirational stories stimulate us to pursue that creative spark. Hearing the lengths that you have gone through to get to this point today or the amazing impact that people have had on others, draw people to gather around YOUR cause and find meaningful ways to play a part in future stories. YOU can create an entire movement because of your passion to educate your community towards leaving a lasting impact.
3. Stories describe that impossible situation that your team completed.
Do you remember that crazy idea that captured our first client’s attention? Do you remember what it was like on your first job? “Crazy ideas” like pulling your son in an inflatable boat while you complete the first leg of a triathlon aren’t as crazy as they sound. Even if you haven’t found the solution to that impossible dream, there are people out there who want to engage their skills and the means to create a plausible solution to that impossible dream.
Storytelling is one of the most powerful gifts we have to see the possibility in the impossible and change lives. Whether it is our personal testimonies, a story of overcoming hardship or a story of a life made better through the mission of your organization, there is nothing that has greater potential to change someone’s perspective. You have all the tools you need to succeed. The question still remains: are you investing the time, energy and resources needed to surface and share your organizational impact stories?
Is your organization living out a story worth retelling?
If you’d like to learn more about integrating asset-based fundraising into your church fundraising strategy, Steve Caton is the President of The Giving Crowd and regularly writes about stewardship and fundraising on The Giving Crowd blog.