Moving the Heart, Moving to Action – Reflections on Module 4 of The School for Change Agents

Posted by: NHS Horizons - Posted on:

Originally published by Leigh Kendall – 21st June 2019

We know that you can’t be a successful change agent on your own. The challenge is, how do you encourage people to join you?

Sharing your story is the way to attract people to your cause – and this was the topic of module 4 of The School for Change Agents, presented by Kathryn Perera. It was an emotive and emotional session, during which Kathryn shared her own story from her time working as a barrister; why she left the profession; and her path to where she is today.

Stories are the most effective way in which we communicate our values to others. By sharing our story we link the head with the heart. We connect with our values, which leads to action.

This beautiful quote by Marshall Ganz sums up why stories are so important:

“Stories not only teach us how to act – they inspire us to act.

Stories communicate our values through the language of the heart, our emotions.

And it is what we feel – our hopes, our cares, our obligations – not simply what we know that can inspire us with the courage to act.”

During the webinar, we heard how Jessica, a Registered Nurse, used narrative to successfully challenge the Guinness Book of World Records, who had originally refused to accept her world record for running the London Marathon dressed as a nurse – because she was wearing scrubs rather than a ‘traditional’ nurse’s dress. Jessica used visual imagery to demonstrate the diversity of nursing careers and uniforms – and her World Record was justifiably awarded.

We heard how Barack Obama used the Self-Us-Now structure to tell his narrative to the Democratic Convention back in 2004. 

We also heard how climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg inverts the structure, using Now-Us-Self to tell her story. (You can read more about Self-Us-Now in the slidedeck).

Stories are an incredibly powerful method of connecting with others, joining together, and making action happen. The beauty of stories is that we all have this resource at our disposal. As change agents, we need to invest the time in crafting our stories, so that we only need find the opportunity to share them. 

Our stories are by their nature, personal. Don’t be afraid to show emotion, or to reveal vulnerabilities. It is those that make us human, that show our values, that enables genuine connection with others. 

It may be helpful to practice telling your story with a trusted friend or colleague so that you’re as confident as possible to tell it when the opportunity arises. 

What’s your story? What do you want to make happen? How will you share your story?

Watch Moving to Action here. The slides from the session are available here. You can also explore your learning and how to put it in to action on FutureLearn.