Power Tracks to Change / N° 6


To change is to tell. To tell is to show. To show is to illustrate. To illustrate is to make understand. That’s, in a very nutshell, what it’s all about. Telling (good) stories, showing (good) pictures disrupts our day-to-day. Shakes people up. Rouses their interest. Galvanizes their solid coats of indifference.

But: How do stories actually work? How do pictures work? Both stories and pictures, to be worth telling / looking at, talk about – exactly: About change! They talk about something being different as it used to be. About something being different as we thought it to be. About something being different as it should be. Without »difference«, no story, no picture, no telling, no showing.

Also, stories are about adventure. That’s how myths work. Fairytales. Thrillers. That’s how news works, too. There’s some people. Have a problem, an idea, a goal. Join other people. Start. Seem to succeed quickly. Easy. Meet headwind, though. Strong one, too. Come close to failure, ruin, doom. Recover. Finally — yeah — what, actually? Don’t think that »finally win« is the only option for a good story to end. Of course it isn’t. Not even in business, where you want your story to motivate people. In business as in books it’s not about soothing people. It’s about rousing them, getting them hooked. Nothing better than a bad ending to get people off their easy chairs, out of their complacency.

You say: Yes, maybe, but what if I merely want to bring a small change into action? A teeny weeny one? We say: Same thing. You don’t need a big thing to make a story. From garage to unicorn, like*. Any picture may show but a tiny little detail and still spur cries of »incredible!« and »fantastic!«

Back to the beginning: To change is to tell. Remember Bill Clinton? Former US President? He got it all right, in his campaign for presidency. Said: It’s the story, stupid. Won.**

* The »Unicorn« is a metaphor used by the start-up crowd: a start-up worth more than 1 Billion.

** To be sure: He put it slightly different – but that’s another story about story: Tell it so it works. And don’t shy away from being candid about it. About your »alterations«. We do not want (nor need) to tell lies, do we? Stories do not have to be true to work. Golden rule of suspense.

Two more words on »Story«.

// A story, and committing to it, is not just a preference. It is a belief that a certain idea merits or deserves support, even though we may find it difficult to live up to it. //

Jerome Bruner (1915–2016)
American Psychologist

// Story = Character + Predicament + Attempt on Solution. //

Jonathan Gottschall
American Literary Scholar

Strange. Everybody seems to know how the unicorn looks like. Doesn’t exist, though. See how perfect ideas still succeed?