Monday, September 14, 2009

Boiling Frogs, Lighthouses, Bricklayers and Starfish

Everyone likes a good story, especially if it makes a strong point. Some people like good stories so much they tell them over and over again.

However, stories told too many times become tired clich├ęs. There are a number of stories that fall into this category these days, and in my experience on the speaking circuit, the four most over-used are

- The frog in boiling water (illustrating that people don't notice slow change)

- The Lighthouse versus the battleship (even the most powerful have to give way sometimes)

- The three bricklayers (it's all about what you perceive)

- The Starfish ("it made a difference to that one.." - even Obama told this one recently)

Of course, if you hear a story for the first time, it may have a powerful impact. But for the person telling it, they have no idea how many of their audience is familiar with the tale. It's much better to tell your own stories, even to make the same points. Using old stories is just lazy and unoriginal.

So please, tell stories that you were part of, not hackneyed parables from business books.

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