Into the Woods – John Yorke

Into the Woods by John Yorke. On how stories work and why we tell them

The great thing about traveling is: there is plenty of time to read. And since I’m running a workshop in storytelling here in ABQ, there’s always an additional insight to uncover and one more step into understanding how stories work. So, if there is one book to read on storytelling and screenplay, it definitely is this one.

Most memorable quote: “We are capable of entering any kind of head” (and: “…most great drama asks of us neither “yes please” nor “no thanks” but “you too?”). And because drama is in it’s essence about change and transformation (the hero’s journey) and life is all about change (the learning, assimilation and growing), life is drama. To convey life, understanding drama is key. This is the only way to understand how stories work.

How does this link to leadership? Well if there is one key muscle leaders need to train is the storytelling muscle. It has become pivotal to know how to build a dramatic arc, understand the fractal underpinnings of any great story. Whether you’re creating an experience for your customers, align with your board or guide your people, creating a solid narrative generates the support you need to succeed.

Interesting also is that we, humans, are indeed able to get into any kind of mind. We can get into the mind of any protagonist, how appalling the motives and deeds. We always manage to relate. However, it is here that storytelling is crucial: get it wrong and the audience will resist. Get it right and any change management initiative becomes interesting.


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