The effect of our environment has on us and the way we develop, the way we live, our habits and beliefs, is astounding, isn’t it?
I still think of human brains like massive sponges soaking up everything around them and then incorporating the other stuff we’ve already soaked up. For me personally, I find this thought both comforting and exciting because for most of us, we have a lot of control over what we hang around, both physically and mentally, and therefore, what we soak up.
You know that maxim that we are the average of the 5 people we hang around the most, or spend the most time with, however it goes … That’s pretty interesting, but what’s most interesting about it is how you can control who you’re hanging around and what you’re feeding that brain sponge of yours.
For me, I access ‘hanging out’ with all sorts of brilliant and amazing people through the books I read. This totally counts and while I can’t physically be with them, it’s probably more powerful anyway to be hanging out with their focused and organised thoughts that are books.
And there’s something really interesting that I’ve noticed about this - while you can learn from the step-by-step guides and lists and reference-type articles, the ones that show you exactly how to do something and are of great value because of this, the greatest value comes from tapping into someone else’s experience. It’s the story, that kind of connection that seems to reach our brains in a different way - an emotional way.
That connection, that emotion is what really inspired and motivates us to make use of the practical knowledge and resources all around us. I really do believe that you can learn anything and that, especially now with the sea of information available to us, is not that hard. Pretty easy in fact.
I had a friend whose car battery went flat and wouldn’t start. The only other person around was another friend who did have jumper leads, but neither of them knew how to use them. What did they do? Call one of their husbands or the RAC? No, they YouTubed it of course and were back on the road in less than 5 minutes.
That’s a really simple example and I’m sure that heaps of people would have done the same thing. I’m pretty sure they didn’t tap into some deep archetypal story in order to think of YouTubing how to jump start a car. But with so much information available to us about EVERYTHING, how are we drawn to and know what to listen to, to seek, to choose?
It’s through the stories that we identify with, the stories we internalise from our environment and the stories we aspire to make our own. And that’s why being aware of the environment you’re creating for yourself reveals the path you’ll take, the opportunities you’ll attract and the outcomes you’ll manifest.
Stories allow us to see ourselves in a different light, to see the possibilities and options that in the end lead us to choose the information, the people, the art, the places, the brands and everything else we’ll seek and incorporate into our lives.
Think about this in terms of content, both that which you create and that which you consume. Content that’s just information alone might be useful, but it’s kind of like a commodity. Will we come back? Maybe. Will we feel a connection with it and start feeling trusting and eventually loyal towards it? Well maybe, but if there’s something else that gives us that emotional connection as well as solving the problem, we’ll probably go for that … and go back again, primed and ready to take notice and incorporate what it says.
Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’ is full of statistics, but it’s the stories that inspire and bring those stats to life. Jen Sincero’s book ‘You Are a Badass’ has a great list of other books and resources at the back, but it’s all the stories in all the preceding pages that make a reader almost certainly pursue at least one of them.
Stuff is just stuff, information is just information. Humans are emotional creatures and we all make sense of the world and stuff and information through stories. When content lacks the emotional element, the story bit, it just becomes a commodity and blends in, gets lost and doesn’t stick like it could.
Find the stories that matter to you and follow the people who tell them, see where they take you. If Tony Robbins is your story guy, but you’re a tax accountant, follow the trail of his stories - they’ll inform and influence your own in a way that’s unique and a way that will stand out.
If you’re a patchwork quilter, but you love Steve Jobs and Metalica, more’s the better. Follow them, read their stories, open your mind to how you fit into all three because when you do, then your own stories develop and shine in a way that only yours can. You’ll start to have an impact on people’s lives because you’re allowing them to connect with you in a way that tax accounting or patchwork quilting alone can’t.
This isn’t a content marketing or social media tactic, it’s just being human. Tools are just tools - it takes a human connection to get them to take us where we want to go.
Content marketing isn't rocket science and you don't have to be a multi-million dollar brand to express your message and build your tribe. Everyone has a story and they're all unique and they're all important. Pepper Street's mission is to help small businesses tell theirs in a way that's manageable, is true and feels good, so if you liked this article, you can receive the weekly blog via email by adding your details below. And if you'd like to check out our Ultimate Content Framework, you can download that here.