Every person has a story. That is one of the most universal elements to human nature. We all have our own unique little version of reality, our own intricate world of thoughts, feelings, sights, sounds and experiences that are ours alone and that no one else shares.
Of course, there are many levels to acknowledging this type of subjective interpretation, and there has long been a heated debate between Eastern philosophy and Western science over whether or not there actually is any true objective reality that is devoid of subjective interpretation from individual beings. In a sense, we’re asking the age-old question: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Hold your horses there, Neil deGrasse Tyson. We’ll get into the science part of this later, but for now, let’s meditate on the subjective human experience and see what we can learn.
Specifically, there’s one important question I want to answer: How do you take your own subjective human experience and use it to connect emotionally with others in order to propel yourself forward, no matter what kind of business you’re in?
The answer? Paradoxically, it is the most simple, and yet, the most complex form of communication known to mankind.
In a word – it’s storytelling.
What’s Your Story, and Why Does it Matter?
I’m going to be blunt here.
It doesn’t matter how amazing you think your story is. If you don’t convey it in a way that people can empathize with, they won’t make an emotional connection to it and they won’t be able to engage with you or your ideas.
You could have the best-selling story of the year – or heck – even the century. You could be the Thoreau of our time with 2015’s version of Walden floating around in your head. But if I can’t pick up your book and read it, I’ll never be able to get an inkling of how great you are or how incredible your story is.
Part of the bounty of human experience, arguably, is the joy and palpable wonder we experience when we tell each other stories, particularly when we are able to share our stories with others in a way that is meaningful and honest.
What am I talking about? The difference between understanding and a lack thereof. Reality may be subjective, but that doesn’t matter. It’s not the accuracy of the details that are important when it comes to an emotional connection, but the overall feeling or affect the persons involved experience.
If you write a story about your childhood dog who was hit by a car, the color of the car is not important. You say red, your sister remembers green, but who cares? The point here is that you can tell your story in a way that makes the reader tear up and want to hug the person next to them if you’re a good storyteller. And if you’re really good, you might just motivate them to go out and adopt a new puppy. It all comes down to the way you craft your words and the meaning you place behind them.
But here’s the catch: every person has a story, and every person’s story is truly breathtaking. Every person has the ability to create meaning for themselves and for others through the art of storytelling. But not every person has the ability to tap into this creative forte at the drop of a hat.
Get it? Got it? Good.
When you feel that someone really ‘gets’ you or your story, you feel successful, intelligent, in the zone, connected, powerful and at peace. Your life is infused with meaning, if for no other reason, than simply because you know that a true part of yourself was worth another person’s time and consideration. A certain level of understanding was reached between the two of you, no matter the little details.
But if we go back and reconsider the first point of this article, we may remember that reality is rather subjective. That means the words on this page, any words on any page that have ever existed, will be subject to the interpretation of each person who has the chance to read or experience them.
Now we tag science back in to help us understand why reality seems so subjective. According to quantum theory, reality is truly what you make it: an object is only real to the observer, and the object observed only exists while the observer is observing it. Essentially, an object’s very existence depends on being observed by an observer.
Therefore, if we relate this theory to a story or storytelling, we begin to understand that your story only exists when someone is observing it. Your own self included. After all, you are the initial observer of any story that you write or tell.
In any given version of reality, your story doesn’t technically exist until you write it. It may exist in wisps of untraceable thought, but there is no hope for an outside observer to begin to interpret your invisible wisps of thought without some sort of intelligible medium, i.e., words on a page.
So how do we make sense of all this? How do we move forward with meaningful storytelling when the story isn’t ‘real’ until we write it?
Remember not to get caught up in the details, and keep reading.
The Trick to Meaningful Writing
Quantum theory proposes that if no one is around to hear a tree fall in the forest, not only does it not make any sound, but (in a Matrix style twist) there is no tree. In fact, there isn’t even a forest.
Though it may be intimidating to consider, it’s important to face the fact that your story isn’t really your story. As soon as you publish something, as soon as you even tell someone what happened to you the other day at the grocery store, you’ve passed something onto someone else, and it becomes theirs. The observer defines the object according to their own reality, their own thoughts, feelings, belief systems or assumed set of truths.
Coincidentally, it works much the same way with marketing and content writing.
No matter the details, no matter the product or services or ideas being sold, it’s the emotional connection the audience has to the underlying message that stands out and makes all the difference.
Whether you’re writing a novel or composing an informative blog post doesn’t matter: what does matter is how you make your audience feel with the words on the page.
Everyone has a legitimate, incredible, tear-jerking story inside of them. The secret that both meaningful writing and great marketing share is that they help the audience experiencing them forget about the details and get back to the most important part of human existence: deep, meaningful emotional connections.
The real stuff of life.
Like I said before, not everyone can tap into the flow of great storytelling easily. If you need help crafting your words into something that makes a crucial, meaningful impact with your audience, hire a content writer like me.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Anna Gutermuth.