I watched the recent Super Bowl even when Seattle was so far ahead of Denver that it was no longer competitive. I wanted to see the commercials. They attracted almost as much media attention as the game itself.
And the best Super Bowl commercial according to polls after the game? It was another Budweiser story of a horse and a dog, this time “Puppy Love.”
The commercial said nothing about beer, let alone why the Anheuser-Busch company thinks their brand is the best. It’s a story about the tenacity of a 10-week old puppy who earns a place on the Clydesdale team – a sentimental story the sponsors hope beer drinkers will remember.
In fact nearly all the commercials were short stories. Which supports the thesis of Jonah Sach’s book, Winning the Story Wars, that “those who tell—and live—the best stories will rule the world.”
I was recently in a discussion group with Abdual Aziz Said who since 1957 has taught international relations and global peace at American University.
He is a co-author of “Islam and Peacemaking in the Middle East,” in which he contends that peace will come in the Middle East only when “compatibility stories” replace the “confrontation stories” that fuel conflict and violence.
Every organization and individual has a story.
We are all mid-stream in stories that began before we came along and will be remembered and rewritten after we are gone. But while we are here we have the opportunity to know, live and tell our own stories within the larger stories that could make a difference for the good.
Washington needs elected leaders telling compatibility stories rather than the paralyzing confrontational stories that have left us in a political gridlock of partisan fundamentalism which Said writes, “implies a refusal to listen to the ‘other.’
Even our faith communities need new stories. Evidently the increasing number of ‘nones,’ who claim no religious affiliation, are not a reacting to spirituality and compassion. They are just fed up with the old negative stories of religious disputes, contentious true believers and self-centered indifference to a world in need.
“Know Your Story and Lead With It: The Power of Narrative in Clergy Leadership,” by Richard L. Hester and Kelli Walker-Jones, presents a model for leaders everywhere.
Effective leadership is knowing, living and telling stories that have the power to change our lives and the world around us.