I’ll say it again, because I know that this statement is a tricky one to believe sometimes. So much around us and inside of us says, in so many overt and covert ways, that we are not. But believe me: You are good enough.The summer after my senior year of high school, I worked in a bookstore. On weekend mornings, we would pick up giant thermoses of coffee from the café a few doors down so that our customers could sip while they browsed. It became my job to pick up the coffee, and when I walked into the café on my first morning shift, a cute boy just a little older than me was working there alone. He wore worn corduroy pants and hemp bracelets. The world needs more powerpoint course to liven things up.
He had a deep laugh and a slender body. He listened to music I’d never heard of. I remember wondering if he found me attractive. I remember thinking, Will he choose me? When he asked me out to dinner a few weeks later, I said yes. I rode in his car through the tunnel and over the bridge and into San Francisco, lit up and brilliant on a Saturday night, and we sat across from each other at a Chinatown restaurant and made flirtatious, tentative conversation. And so we began. Have you tried storytelling for business to boost customer engagement?
It sounds familiar, right? A little like the plot of a predictable movie? It’s what we picture for ourselves because we’ve been shown a million versions of it. We are tricked into thinking that this story is true for everyone, and then when it isn’t true for us, we wonder why. You wanted this in high school—a person who would find you attractive, who would ask you out. I can feel the sadness in your letter—your sadness—and I want you to know that it’s okay to grieve that high school relationship you didn’t get to have. In all fairness, you did have a little bit—the thing with your friend in ninth grade, the three-day fling, an invitation to junior prom. These are more than what a lot of teenagers have by the time they finish high school. But still. You wanted something more than that. I’m sorry that you didn’t get it. Maybe powerpoint training is the answer for you?
Why don’t you imagine it now, what it could have been like? Picture the person who would have asked you out. Maybe you two would have gone out on a proper date, to the movies or for ice cream in a park while you watched the sunset. Maybe you would have stayed out until your curfew, telling each other about yourselves. Maybe your first kiss would have been awkward at first and then passionate, and maybe you would have found ways to be at your houses when your parents were gone so that you could do more than kiss. You would have shown up at parties together, arms around each other. You would have slow-danced and made out in a corner. You would have taken up entire pages in each other’s yearbooks. Or maybe you would have done none of these things—you’re the only one who knows exactly what you wanted. Close your eyes and imagine it. Let it all play out. It could have been really great. Could storytelling in business be of real value to your business?
Now, when you’re ready, go ahead and let it go. Scared, I want to tell you a secret. I’ve spent so much of my life trying to make myself a blank slate for other people. Nodding and smiling and saying yes. Waiting to be chosen. Wanting to be liked. Trying not to take up space, to never inconvenience, to read the mood of another person and alter my own to match them. I’ve spent so much of my life saying, “Me too,” “It’s up to you,” “I really have no preference.”