Breakthrough Secrets to Transformative Storytelling

Excerpt from “Your Story Matters! Own Your Story and Tell It With Clarity, Confidence & Impact” by Linda A. Olson.

Imagine you and a few friends are sitting around a campfire one evening and someone throws a question in your direction. “Hey, Thomas! What has been your most memorable moment?” You are naturally caught off guard, and you wonder just which moment you can comfortably share. After some hesitation, you share a personal incident and, to your amazement, your friends—one by one—begin to share their own stories. Your vulnerability has just opened the door for deeper camaraderie with your friends. You all know each other a bit more now, and future conversations will carry the memory of this new knowledge about each other.

If I showed you a photo of a man sitting in the midst of a group of African children, the photo most likely wouldn’t mean much to you. However, if I told you that, for this man, the photo captured his most memorable moment, you likely would lean forward wanting to hear the story behind it, wouldn’t you?

Jack Canfield, popular co-author of the book series, “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” picked up his friend, a wealthy man, from a nearby airport. On the drive to the hotel, Jack asked his friend this same question, “What is the most memorable moment in your life?” Without hesitation, his friend began to tell a story.

“When I was in Africa, I sat on the ground among many African children. One little boy put his little hand on my chin and turned my head. I asked him what he was doing. He said, ‘I want to remember your face when I get to heaven.’ I will never forget that moment.”

Someone has said, We do not remember days, we remember moments. Stories make moments worth remembering.”                                                                                  

Story is powerful because we connect more easily and remember more clearly through the telling of experiences. We identify with the character in the story, especially if the main character is the storyteller.

The exhortation from my coach stung in my heart. “I have travelled the world and never heard a story on self-forgiveness like yours, but if you don’t tell it with the power that it is worth, it will be like any other story.”

I didn’t fully understand what she meant. But what I did know is that for the first time I was beginning to see the value of my story. Here is a little peek into my story.

My Dad stood at my bedroom door and said, “You’ve got to get up. We have to keep going.” Getting out of bed was the last thing I wanted to do. You see, the day before was the worst day of my life. Through a tractor accident, my precious two-year old brother was killed. I was the one driving the tractor.

It was a long journey to healing, a very long journey. But I knew if I could recover from being responsible for the tragic death of my two-year-old brother, I could recover from anything. From then on, I embraced newfound courage and strength—I had finally owned my story.

Only then, as I began to share that part of my life and began to see the impact my story had on others, did I begin to grasp the power of story. Whether I told my story in great detail in front of hundreds of people for 45 minutes or if I shared a brief summary with one person for 30 seconds, I saw that story transforms lives.

That realization began a journey full of direction and purpose. I thought, if story is so important why aren’t we all telling our story every day? After doing some research, I discovered the top three reasons we are not telling our story.

1. Most people don’t think they have a story.

2. If they could come up with something, they don’t think others would want to hear it.

3. They have no idea how to tell it.

I knew these statements were the farthest thing from the truth. In the last 40 plus years, I have helped thousands of people with their story and have yet to find one person who does not have a story.

You don’t think you have a story? Think again. Story is all around you. It is in the kitchen clean-up after breakfast, in playing catch with your son in the backyard, in the tense meeting with your coworkers at the office. Story laughs with the knotted shoelaces, lingers around the dinner table, and sighs in the midnight hours. Story is your past, your future, your right now.

Telling a story has to do with sharing with others a life experience. It’s that simple. A story may be an experience you had the other day, or it may be something you’ve learned, or it may be a memory from the past. Story is everywhere and in everyone.

Let’s experiment. Scroll through the pictures on your cell phone and stop at the first one that puts a smile on your face. Suppose you would like to share this photo with a good friend. How would you introduce the picture? What would you say? Whatever you tell him or her about your experience is your story. That’s it! That is the fun and simplicity of story. If a new acquaintance looked at the photo, no connection would be apparent. But sharing the story brings the photo to life.

It wasn’t until I came to complete healing that I even knew I had a story. In fact, if someone had asked me a few years earlier, what my story was, I probably would have said, “I don’t think I have one.”

Not only does everyone have a story, everyone has a story that is powerful enough to transform lives. Today, my mission is “To Impact a Million People a Year Through Story.”

The question isn’t whether you have a powerful story; it’s valuing the power in your story.

Excerpt from “Your Story Matters! Own Your Story and Tell It With Clarity, Confidence & Impact” by Linda A. Olson. For more information, visit:

Linda A. Olson is a TEDx speaker, story expert, three-times best-selling author, and founder of Wealth Through Stories. She is known as a go-to-expert who helps others take their story to reach millions. Her mission is “To Impact a Million People a Year Through Story.” For more information, visit:

Training magazine is the industry standard for professional development and news for training, human resources and business management professionals in all industries.