I went to The Story a few days ago. Here, Meg Rossoff talked about what makes a good story and it’s something that really resonated with me. This isn’t a particularly well written blog post but I wanted to document the concept.
Photo courtesy of bozo_z_clown
Meg told us a story about horse riding and in particular, dressage, which is a relatively new hobby for Meg.
In this story, Meg was beginning to feel frustrated because people kept advising her that she needed more ‘throughness’ – but she had no idea what this meant.
It is, in fact, a term in equestrianism which, according to wikipedia:
“is often compared to a circuit of energy between horse and rider: the rider’s leg aids encourage energetic movement in the hindquarters, which push the back upward, which in turn allows for connection with the front end and the bit, and the connection felt in the bit transmits a feeling of energetic movement back to the rider’s hands.”
One day, as Meg was riding through the countryside with her friend, her horse got spooked and threw her onto the ground. Meg turned to her friend and commented on the dog which had jumped out of the bushes and spooked the horse. But “there was no dog” replied her friend.
Perhaps, Meg thought, she had just achieved ‘throughness’ with her horse and seen the dog because the horse had seen the dog in his mind.
It’s probably worth talking a little bit about horses here. My friend and NM associate, Karen Gartside, works with horses and business leaders in America. According to Karen, horses have a particular sense. The way she explains it is similar to that feeling you get when you’re in a crowded room and you know someone in the crowd is there too but you can also sort of ‘feel’ their presence. For horses, this sensation can be felt over a couple of miles. This explains why horses get spooked a lot of the time and that standing next to a horse, for them, can actually feel like you’re right in their face. This is why you have to hold yourself properly and have a certain level of self-confidence when being near a horse. It is for this reason that Karen says you can tell a lot about a person by the way a horse behaves around them. And this is (my very simplified understanding of) what Karen does with teams and leaders.
Meg concludes that it is this ‘throughness’ which is the difference between a good rider and a bad one. And the same goes for stories and their writers.
It is this which makes a good story really powerful because it will appeal to a deeper part of us and our emotions. And, as two more speakers from The Story, Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard says, “the only truth is emotional truth”.