Story of Self

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Definition:

A story about yourself that communicates your values and motivates others to take action with you.  

Key Principles

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Why tell stories?

  • Through stories, we communicate our values and share the reasons we organize to change the world.
  • We inspire and motivate others to join our Councils and our campaigns.

When do we use Story of Self in organizing?

  • All the time!
  • We share our stories during one-to-one meetings, Council meetings, rallies, and more.
  • By sharing our Story of Self, we can more effectively recruit MoveOn members to join a Council or join the Core group.

Key elements:

  • As leaders, we employ both the "head" and the "heart" to mobilize others to join our Councils and campaigns. We use stories to engage the heart, and we use strategy to engage the head.
  • We need both the head and the heart to win campaigns. Without the hearts of our audience, the best laid plans won't have the boots on the ground to carry it out. And if we don't have a solid strategy, we'll have a community of people with no action to take.
  • There are three types of stories:
  • story
    • Self: invite others to be in relationship with you
    • Us: invite others to join your community
    • Now: invite others to take action
  • Every one has a compelling story to tell—we all have experiences or heroes in our lives that have shaped our values and our ability to act on those values. We have also all made unique choices that shaped our life’s path—whom to build relationships with, how to respond to injustices we saw as children, whether or not to take leadership in our places of worship, our unions, or our schools, etc.
  • Because stories allow us to express our values as lived experience, they have the power to motivate others to join us.
  • Each of these stories will have a clear challenge, choice, and outcome:
    • Challenge: What challenge have you faced? What made it so challenging? Why was it your challenge? It doesn’t have to be a deep misfortune or tragedy—any number of things may have been a challenge to you and be the source of a good story to inspire others.
    • Choice: Why did you make the choice you made? Where did you get the courage (or not)? Where did you get the hope (or not)? It’s important to pick one moment, and go deep describing all the details of this moment. Think depth, not breadth.
    • Outcome: How did the outcome feel? What made it feel that way? What did it teach you? What do you want to teach us? How do you want us to feel?
  • The power in your Story of Self is to reveal something of yourself and your values—not your deepest secrets. Your story can be about something as mundane as a conversation with a friend.
  • Your Story of Self can and will change—based on new experiences you want to share or based on the campaign you are working on. It will also change based on your audience.
  • The best stories show—don’t tell. Paint a picture in the minds of your audience by using vivid details. What were you wearing? Where there smells? Where were you and what did it look like?
  • Keep it brief—your story should be no longer than 3 minutes.
  • Keep practicing your story. Developing a strong Story of Self takes time. Practice, practice, practice—and get feedback from other Council members, friends, and family.

How to:

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  • Spend 10 minutes brainstorming different moments from your life.

  • Pick one moment.
  • Now write out the story. Ask yourself:
    • What is your challenge?
    • What is your choice?
    • What is the outcome?
    • What is the value you want to communicate?
    • What details can you share? Describe the sights, sounds, smells, and emotions of the moment.
  • Share the story with a friend, colleague, family member—anyone! Get feedback on your story.
  • Refine your story and start using it!

Take-Aways

 

  • 1. We need both the head and the heart to win campaigns. We use stories to engage the heart, and we use strategy to engage the head.

 

  • 2. Your Story of Self can and will change—based on new experiences you want to share or based on the campaign you are working on.

 

  • 3. The best stories show—don’t tell. They are also brief and no longer than 3 minutes.