Central to the persuasion process that is at the heart of organising and relationship building is the concept of the public narrative. Marshall Ganz refers to it as “an exercise of leadership by motivating others to join you in action on behalf of a shared purpose. Although this worksheet focuses on your “story of self”, the goal is to identify sources of your own calling to the purpose in which you will call upon others (story of us) to join you in action (story of now).”
More from Ganz on telling one’s public story:
Stories not only teach us how to act – they inspire us to act. Stories communicate our values through the language of the heart, our emotions. And it is what we feel – our hopes, our cares, our obligations – not simply what we know that can inspire us with the courage to act.
By telling our personal stories of challenges we have faced, choices we have made, and what we learned from the outcomes we can inspire others and share our own wisdom. Because stories allow us to express our values not as abstract principles, but as lived experience, they have the power to move others.
A good story public story is drawn from the series of choice points that have structured the “plot” of your life – the challenges you faced, choices you made, and outcomes you experienced.
- Challenge: Why did you feel it was a challenge? What was so challenging about it? Why was it your challenge?
- Choice: Why did you make the choice you did? Where did you get the courage – or not? Where did you get the hope – or not? How did it feel?
- Outcome: How did the outcome feel? Why did it feel that way? What did it teach you? What do you want to teach us? How do you want us to feel?
A public story includes three elements:
A story of self: why you were called to what you have been called to.
A story of us: what your constituency, community, organization has been called to its shared purposes, goals, vision.
A story of now: the challenge this community now faces, the choices it must make, and the hope to which “we” can aspire.
This graphic from Ganz captures the interlinkages in the story:
These ideas were applied to great success in Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign.