Do you remember that scene from Star Wars episode IV where Obi Wan Kenobi uses the ‘Jedi Mind Trick' for the first time?
You know, that famous line, “These aren't the droids you're looking for…”.
Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan have just left the site of Luke's former home where they find the smoldering corpses of his aunt and uncle.
The evil Empire has put out an all-points bulletin on the two droids. Kenobi and Skywalker are running for their lives.
But with a simple wave of Obi Wan's hand and his supernatural Jedi powers, imminent disaster is avoided.
Jedi Mind Control
Have you ever wished you had the power of Jedi Mind control – maybe even just a little bit?
I try to use it on my kids but fail miserably. Daily.
Instead they use it on me. Daily.
I don't know how to use Jedi Mind tricks, but in this brief article I'm going to reveal something almost as powerful.
Meet The Lizard Brain
First however, we need to take a short jaunt into evolutionary biology. Don't worry, it won't take long.
The amygdala, or the ‘lizard brain' in colloquial terms, is the part of the brain that recognizes sub-conscious queues in the environment around us.
Here's an explanation from PsychologyToday.com:
The amygdala is an evolutionarily primitive part of the brain located deep in the temporal lobe. It comprises several subregions associated with different aspects of perceiving, learning, and regulating emotions.
In plain English, the amygdala is responsible for our sub-conscious emotional reactions.
This part of our brain helped our ancient predecessors cope with the wild world around them – by avoiding danger and recognizing safety.
Your amygdala is what makes you afraid of the dark (here's an interesting article about a woman with no amygdala – who has no fear)
So here's the key: the emotional responses produced by the amygdala aren't directed by rational thought.
What that means, is that if you can communicate with someone's amygdala, you can motivate them to do things they wouldn't otherwise do.
Sort of like Jedi Mind control.
Storytelling: The Pathway To The Subconscious Brain
The amygdala doesn't understand words, it speaks and understands the language of emotion.
If you can cause someone to feel an emotion, you have a powerful ‘hook' into their psyche.
Do you remember the story I told at the beginning of this article?
The one about Luke and Obi Wan?
You may even remember what you felt when you first saw that movie scene.
As Luke's hovercraft is approaching the check point, you're thinking they're doomed.
There is no way out of this – they'll be caught and face certain death!
I distinctly remember how I felt when I first watched that scene – suspense and worry that they would be caught.
This is the power of a story.
Narratives and stories communicate directly with the subconscious brain.
Crafting Your Story
There are 3 steps to creating a story so powerful it moves people to action.
1. You must have a compelling idea or cause
This could be us vs. them. It could be God or religion. It could be government…or architecture. If you don't have a compelling cause or reason, then step 2 and step 3 won't work. Develop a compelling reason why someone must do what you want them to do. If you haven't watched Simon Sinek's TED talk, watch it now (18 minutes). Otherwise proceed to step 2.
2. Create a narrative around that idea or cause
You need to craft a story. And the story needs to contain the typical elements of a story: a hero, a protagonist, a conflict, a reversal, a resolution. Think of the Bible or the Koran – these compelling stories have shaped the fates of nations. Your's doesn't need to be as dramatic, but it must appeal to emotion.
3. Have a moral of the story that demands action
Your story will be hollow unless it invites and moves someone to action. Easy enough, huh?
There you have it, the 3-step formula to getting anyone to do almost anything (except the woman without an amygdala).
So how can you use this powerful principle as an architect?
There are many ways – client relations – anytime you need to convince someone of something or have them see your point of view.
If you want to dive deeper into how to use the power of story to be more convincing and persuasive, you must attend the upcoming Business of Architecture Summit.
Architect Collier Ward will be presenting on “Storytelling In Architectural Practice“. He'll be sharing how you can create a personal story that is compelling – and powerful for your architecture practice.
Get early-bird tickets and get access to all 12 sessions by clicking here.
So there you have it.
Harness the power of a good narrative, and you will be well on your way to becoming a true Jedi Master.
Just promise to use your new-found powers ethically and wisely.
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Author's Note: This post was written in response to the #Architalks theme “Architectural Storytelling”. Other archi-bloggers have also written about this topic. Visit their site and let them know you came from Business of Architecture!
Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture
The Secret Ingredient To Convincing Anyone To Do (Almost) Anything
Bob Borson – Life of An Architect
Architectural Storytelling – It's My Thing
Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture
Stories in Architecture
Marica McKeel – Studio MM
Take the Time to Tell Your Story.
Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet
Architects can Improve their Marketing by Incorporating Storytelling
Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect
architecture as storytelling
Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect
AE048: Success Through Storytelling with Bob Fisher of DesignIntelligence
Evan Troxel – TRXL
It's Their Story
Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC
Architectural Storytelling: The Legacy of Design
Collier Ward – Thousand Story Studio
Architecture and Storytelling are Forever Linked
Cormac Phalen – Cormac Phalen
THE GENERATIONAL STORY – ARCHITECTURE AS STORYTELLING
Nicholas Renard – Cote Renard Architecture
The Story of a Listener
Andrew Hawkins, AIA – Hawkins Architecture, Inc.
Architectural Story Books[/box]
Great post. I am hoping to apply these 3 steps in an attempt to initiate positive change within my organization. Thanks for sharing!
Enoch, I’m just now starting to read the ArchiTalks posts on Storytelling.
It’s amazing how our brains are hard-wired to respond to a good story. Thanks for sharing this 3 Step method. great stuff.
(And thanks for letting present on this topic in the Business of Architecture Summit!)