Storytelling for Leaders: How to Inspire Your Team

Lesson 5/9 - Authenticity, Vulnerability, & Risks


Storytelling for Leaders: How to Inspire Your Team


Lesson Info

Authenticity, Vulnerability, & Risks

So it's like, can we be entertaining and emotional while maintaining authority? And authority is different in every situation. If you're a stand-up comic, you have a lot more leeway for what's gonna make you feel authoritative. In fact, if you don't say something offensive, you might not have as much authority in some crowds. In the workplace, depending on the audience, it's gonna differ. If you're doing a company all-hands, your level of vulnerability or authenticity or how much entertaining you can be might be different than if you're in a room of your peers on an off-site, not in the office, not around work, versus if you were talking to your reports, if you're a manager or leader. Or if you're talking up to senior people. All of that's gonna matter about dialing in that authenticity and vulnerability. Cool. So think about that. But push yourself to the place you can go with it. Don't stop short. And what is important about this, people want to feel that you're a real human. We prob...

ably will eventually have robots that are able to act more human than some humans are. Because of fear. So if you can express, "I am a real human to people," in some form, people will be on your side. They'll be rooting for you. My theory is there are certain actors we see on-screen where they just seem so human, just who they are, their energy, even maybe the way they look. Where you go, "that person's a real human. I'm rooting for them." And some people we don't root for. There's been a lot of examples of people who seem too perfect in the public eye and what we wanna do is tear them down, to our level. And that's not the best impulse as a human, but my point being, people will be on you side and really resonate with you if they feel like you're a human. So if you can cultivate that story, and control it, that's gonna be really good for you because you know what you're putting out there. And they say authenticity is the new currency. Authenticity is the new currency. But that's what this means, is just be you. Be the you-iest you you can be and be real and learn how to share that. Okay? Cory, I hear you. What are the risks? Might lose authority, if you go and say the wrong story. You say it in the wrong way, you might- people might not respect you anymore. They might not listen to you, might not follow you, or be open to being influenced. You might feel a shame-over. People might resonate with your story, but the next day, or even an hour later, you might have what's called a "shame-over". Most people have experienced this, maybe you never heard the word, but you probably have said something that then you felt uncomfortable with afterwards, or you did something that you felt uncomfortable with afterwards. That's a shame-over. So we have to learn how to meander ourselves through that to not prevent us from stretching ourselves. Another risk is judgment. Well, here's a trick- people are always judging you all the time. So you will be judged. How you will be judged, you can't control. But you can control your inputs into that, and you can also just be okay that people are gonna be judging me. And you can judge yourself on how well you think you lived your values, and really able to be yourself. And if you weren't able to be yourself, maybe take ownership over that, and shift that perspective. That's a part of being authentic and vulnerable is like, "I didn't do that right." In the course on feedback, I assumed Mandy's boss was a man, and she was a woman. So that was a big gender bias piece I put in there. And at that point I could've gotten really upset at myself and felt like I screwed it up and everyone's gonna judge me, but at that point I was just like, "ah, man, I got that wrong." I mean learn from that; I mean lean into that. Let me take responsibility that I screwed that up and let me own my gender bias in that moment. I think that's all we can do, is try to get better. And you might feel "not enough". I didn't do enough. I didn't say that well enough. I'm not enough. We all have that feeling of "not enough" that lives in us. So, we're gonna have to slay that dragon if we can take Sam's story as inspiration. We look those dragons in the face and we go after them 'cause that's what preventing us from having the impact and the kind of life we want. That's what we're really after is a life that feels fulfilling and meaningful. So, you are your own editor. That's the point. You're editing your story, what you put in and take out. You're editing- you're dialing in the vulnerability, the authenticity. You have to play that roll for yourself. That's all storytelling is really, is editing. Someone said, like, movies or books are like real life with all the boring parts cut out, just life with all the boring parts cut out. That's editing, but great communicators, great storytellers, great writers, great filmmakers know what to edit- what to keep, what to drop. That's the role you're playing. And if you leave something in, or you cut something out that you should've had in, edit. It's sort of like the theatrical release, and then there's the director's cut, that comes afterwards, like, "no no no, I meant it to be this way. The studio made me cut that out." Well you can kinda give your own director's cut of your stories. "Nah, it's not as good as I want." Add the director's cut back in. Add that piece back in. Our keys are: align with your highest self. Tell your stories from the powerful place inside of you, the most confident place inside of you, the most loving, the most compassionate. Even if you're telling a story about when you weren't that way, you can own the perspective of your highest self. Your highest self can be talking about your lowest self and how that gets in the way sometimes. Does that make sense? That's really important. It helps you be authentic in the best, truest way that's gonna make you feel the best about yourself. Some people are like, "well, if I share myself, oh, people aren't gonna like me." Well, maybe you shouldn't be sharing every anxiety or every toxic thought you have. I have lots of toxic thoughts. I choose not to share them because they're not necessarily true or me. They're not any more true than the positive ones I have. I choose to align with my higher self and you can choose that, too. Edit out your Gremlin mind. That's what I was getting at. That's what we call it; that little mind like (gnawing monster sound) "You suck. You're not good enough. You're terrible. People don't like you. You're not pretty." Get that outta here. The goal is not perfection with this whole process. Stories are living. They think that something like, some of maybe even Shakespeare's works, but certainly "The Odyssey," they believe, written by Homer, quote unquote, was not actually written by Homer out of whole cloth, it was actually an amalgamation of stories that had been told for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years. These ancient myths that, once writing caught up to those stories, someone decided to put them all together into one story, called "The Odyssey". So, the point is, that those stories have been evolving over time. The reason "The Odyssey"- people still read it now is- I mean, that was like the creme de la creme of storytelling that the worst parts got edited out over generations of time, tens of generations. Only the best parts got kept and then that- It was like "The Avengers". It was like, the best superheroes, let's put 'em all together. What's the other one? Not "The Avengers", but the other one people watch? (audience member answers) Yeah, "Justice League" is one..."The Avengers" one, yeah. It's like, we love that concept. Oh, it's the best ones together! Yeah! That's what we can do with our stories. Feed the good wolf. There's a story, I think it's a Cherokee story, but I could be getting that wrong, but that's what I researched, where a boy is talking to his grandfather, let's say in this case, via my gender bias, a girl was talking to her grandmother, and she said, "Grandmother, it feels like there's a fight inside of me every day between two wolves, and one is evil, and it's all the worst parts of me, avarice and jealousy and hate. And there's a good wolf- love, compassion, kindness- and they're fighting every single day. Which one's gonna win?" And Grandma says, "The one that you feed." So, feed the good wolf inside of you the meat. Make it real strong, and starve out the bad wolf, the evil wolf. It doesn't go away, unfortunately. They're kind of like, immortal. These are immortal wolves, but you can weaken one and strengthen the other. So, feed the good wolf. Can you be fun and creative even in planning how you're gonna go forward? So, my exercise for you is I want you to give your Gremlin a name and give your highest self a name. If you have the workbook, it's in there. There's two blanks. Name your Gremlin voice- that one that's just telling you all the time, "you're awful. You're terrible." You can name it after something that is associated with that something that you don't like, some name, word, color, place... What is that Gremlin mind, and then what is your highest self? The one that you rely on to do your best work, to show up, to care, to be of service. What's that mind? What do you wanna call that? Just gonna give ya about five-ten more seconds to name them. This is a good practice in improvisation. It doesn't have to be the final name, just any word that's associated with either. Can someone give us the name of their Gremlin and of their highest self? Sam. You're ready. (Sam laughing) My Gremlin voice name is "Squeebulous." (laughter) That's, yeah, I chose that because it's really silly and it sort of allows me to diminish those bad parts and kind of appreciate that they're there, but also kind of laugh at them and sort take a full-hearted approach to it. Hilarious. Squeebulous. Squeebulous. Oh typical Squeebulous. (laughing) Classic Squeebulous. This is what Mel Brooks did on things that are really awful we can take their power away by making them silly sometimes. "Springtime for Hitler", right? He's mocking these terrible things, but he's trying to take away power in our minds, the sort of power of that evil by making Hitler this musical character and making him do ridiculous things. So, for you, with your own Gremlin mind, we call them, "Squeebulous." Okay. And what's the highest self? My highest self name is, "Sir Samuel." Yeah. Because it evokes, sort of, images of loyalty and knighthood and loyalty to my true, like, higher self. Beautiful. I think we can both see in our minds our version of Squeebulous and Sir Samuel very clearly, so, good job. Let's hear at least one more set. Everyone's like, "okay, maybe I'll just riff on Squeebulous, call him, 'Squeebarama..." (audience laughter) "I'll just put 'sir' or 'queen' in front of mine." What's the opposite of sir, madame? Madam? I don't know that the other one is. Okay. Lady- it's lady, right? Sir and lady, there it is. Put "lady" in front. Okay, let's hear one more set. Who's ready? Mandy? You got one? Um, Slime. (laughter) Slime mind. Yeah, Slime Mind, there we go. And then, Bright Light. Ah, beautiful. It kind of sounds really nice. You can always hang out in bright light, right? Slime, you're like, "get off me!" [Mandy Cross-Talk] Bask in the bright light. Get it off me, Slime! Basking and running away. One more chance to share yours. This is a really fun thing. For everyone listening, you're gonna help them be very, much more powerful in naming this because when it's personal, we name it, it gives us a ton of power. Sometimes what happens is, when we watch this, the reason I put this in as an exercise is, watch yourself and how avoidant we can be to just make a choice. When I'm asking you to storytell, being improvisation, you just have to go with it. If you question yourself, everything kinda falls apart. Often what's just there for you, the free association, whatever's there, is actually perfect, and you won't know until later. It's just there. You didn't have time to think about it or judge it, but it actually works really, really well. Lean into that trust of yourself. And this is a great example I'm doing for everyone in the room and everyone listening. This is gonna really help with your storytelling. So this is a small example. Watch how you did this one, and we're gonna scale this up. Start making choices and be confident. It's gonna be good enough. It's gonna be great. I mean, did you think Sam thought Squeebulous before I made him do it, right? He probably never heard that word. So, our big ideas here are that ballers are authentic. It's ballin' to be authentic. That's the people we look up to and respect, are people who are themselves. That's what they say about coolness. It's not cool to try to be cool. It's cool to not care if you're cool, and then, ah, you're so cool! Right? Paul Newman was cool, man. He didn't care. His face was on salad dressing. He was still Paul Newman, right? So, it's really ballin' to be authentic. We all need an editor. Right? So, it can be yourself, but it can also be people in your life. Get feedback on your stories. Ask them how that went. "Hey, I wanna tell this story. Anything I could've done better?" That's the only way you're gonna learn. Sometimes, during a story, you're kinda blacked out, and you didn't really notice all the things. And then, someone points it out. "Oh, I did do that," or "oh, I missed that opportunity." And last is look where you wanna go. So, if your goal is to be a person who can be inspiring and connect with people and make change, look towards the good things and the highest self. If you fixate on the Gremlin mind, that's where you're gonna end up a lot of the time, is in Gremlin Land, right? So, if you aim towards Sir Samuel's Highgarden Castle, you're gonna likely end up there, right? But if you aim towards Squeebulous' Hobbit Hole of Doom, you're probably gonna end up there, too, okay? So, our thoughts and how we're processing things in the moment have a big impact on how we tell the story and how much power comes out in our story.

Class Description

You communicate with your team members every day, but have you ever stopped to consider how effective those conversations are? Are you really getting your message across in a clear and confident way? Are you explaining to your team why their jobs are critical to the success of the company?

If you feel like there’s something missing from your communication style, it could be the way you’re telling your story. Storytelling is an ancient art, used since the dawn of man to communicate, connect, and inspire. While it might come naturally to some, most of us need to learn and practice storytelling skills in order to achieve the most impact.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Design a simple story model to use in crafting your message.
  • Write a first draft of your story.
  • Know where to start in using storytelling in the workplace.
  • Engage your audience and elicit a positive reaction.
  • Tell stories that are simple, clear and concise, without being overly detailed or confusing.
  • Maintain authority while increasing authenticity and vulnerability.


Sang Hyo Lee

The live audience group is too small. Always the same people are giving input to Cory. Would be better if the group size is twice the size. He's constantly asking his group who wants to share. This makes it awkward for everyone in the live lesson.

Katarína Hiklová