Category: Living

Stories of Humanity

There is an invisible thread that weaves through the most compelling stories: our humanity. Recording and sharing stories of deep humanity evokes empathy and Connection from listeners. These are the easiest stories to tell, and the ones we have easiest access to in health care: stories of caregivers helping patients, of patients inspiring team members, of overcoming obstacles, and of new beginnings.

This week, we’ll explore three radically different ways that modern storytellers spin the tale of what it means to be human. Get inspired and start sharing the stories of humanity from your organization.

Are We Human?

All We Do

There’s a simple way to tell the stories of humanity: ask people for their stories. Driven by their belief that we are all equal, human, and deserving, British musical duo Oh Wonder (Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West) created an awe-inspiring interactive story map that explores the global theme of what it means to be human. To visualize the thread of humanity, the duo reached out to filmmakers, artists, and citizens of the internet to impart what they think it means to be human—to be alive. They asked people to share their stories, their thoughts, and their hearts.

Take a few minutes to watch Oh Wonder’s video. Mentally stimulating, aurally pleasing, and visually stunning, it will truly warm your heart.

What does it mean to be human? How might our deepest humanity live through the work we do every day? What more could we do to more fully understand the humanity of our team members, providers, patients, and guests?

Use the Force

Star Wars Disney

An alternative way to tell the stories of humanity is to flip the model: add humans into the story. When Disney opened a fully immersive Star Wars hotel on their Orlando property, we tuned in. All of the hotel’s cast members are dressed in character and costume, each guest receives their own storyline, and, since it’s meant to take place on a spaceship, windows look out to outer space. Quite literally, guests won’t stay at the hotel – they will become a part of the story. This ambitious hospitality Experience reshape what it means to be a fan, a guest, and a participant in a brand. It simultaneously set a new standard for both the entertainment and hospitality industries. Stay here, and the force will be with you, always.

Remember: the brand of your Experience is defined by the stories patients and guests live while interacting with your physical space and your team members. Make it your own.

A Storied Museum

People in Museum

The American Writers Museum in Chicago has a public hub for the art of Storytelling. Less of a memorial to writers and more of an interactive space to inspire the writers of the future, the museum uses art, technology, and changing exhibits to show that we are a literary people. We tend to think of writing as a finished thing – paper and words – but this museum explores what it means to be an American writer and celebrates the endeavor in and of itself. Among the many interactive exhibits, one features a quiet, thoughtful activity for visitors to actually become a part of the museum’s future. Guests write their own poem and leave them in a basket. All of the poems are incorporated into the compost of an onsite garden, letting the words merge with the earth and nurture future growth. Author Rosellen Brown summed up the heart of the museum. “We write stories.

How might we inspire our team members to take part in writing the story of our organizations? What if we created a space for writing and Storytelling?

Health Heroes Stories

Since April 2020, the New York Times has artfully brought health care heroes Stories to life through the COVID-19 pandemic. This powerful tapestry of personal narratives from physicians, nurses, and care teams on the forefront of the pandemic tell the real story and impact of the virus. Each hero shares their unique perspective and interactions from these challenging times —  pulling back the curtain to the emotional strain and fatigue COVID-19 has placed on caregivers, patients, and families alike. It’s an important reminder to pause and ask questions, truly listen and learn other people’s stories. Simple prompts such as “what brought light to your day?” or “how are you taking care of yourself?” have the potential to unearth amazing Stories of Connection, bravery, and hope.  And in sharing these stories with others, it becomes an invisible thread that ties us to one another, creating a shared Experience.


The Experience Lab has also created a Storytelling mechanism to honor and celebrate health care heroes. The Health Hero Hotline amplifies the voices of citizens eager to share their gratitude with health care workers. These stories of hope and encouragement have become the soundtrack in breakrooms,  lunchrooms and drive time playlists.  

Wordless Stories

Not all stories are told with words. Married couple, dancers and choreographers, Keone and Mari Madrid use dance and movement to weave intricate stories together. It doesn’t take an expert in dance to understand that Keone and Mari are masters at their craft. In their competition for NBC’s “World of Dance,” Keone and Mari took our breath away not only with the technicality of their movement, but in the way in which they use their bodies to tell a story. 

As you watch this recording of their performance, which artfully depicts the interference of phones and technology with human connection, notice how Keone and Mari clearly share a storyline alongside the music and movement. Yet it is without one of the most commonly thought necessities of Storytelling: words. 

If you’re thinking you’ve seen the duo before, it just might be that you’ve watched them in their emotional tribute Built for This for Health Heroes nationwide or perhaps in one of Justin Bieber’s music videos, Love Yourself and Confirmation.

Some of the stories we see in our patient rooms are stories of the most complex emotions in our lifetimes: loss, grief, fear, perseverance, hope, and healing. How can you help the people in your organization be better “listeners” of these visual stories?

Take a Class with the Experts

Films are one of the most digestible forms of Storytelling, and the team at Pixar does it better than most. Masterminds behind films such as Finding Nemo, Toy Story, and Up — it’s impossible to make it through one of their films without experiencing a beautiful range of emotions from laughing to tearing up. How do they evoke so much feeling from viewers young and old alike?

Kahn Academy, a free online hub for learning, partnered with Pixar to teach artists how to master the skills of visual Storytelling. From character modeling to story structure, Pixar and Kahn Academy have made the Art of Storytelling accessible to everyone.

After exploring The Art of Storytelling module in the Pixar class, what new Storytelling skills and knowledge are you able to bring back to your team members?

What Makes Them Great?

While certainly a less romantic form of Storytelling than dance, music, or film, marketing is also a way to share a story. Today, stories sell. So, how do you make them shine? Business guru and author Seth Godin, a believer in the power of Storytelling, shares his top tips on telling a great story. While all of his thoughts are fantastic, we can’t stop thinking about his closing piece of advice: “Most of all, great stories agree with our worldview. The best stories don’t teach people anything new. Instead, the best stories agree with what the audience already believes and makes the members of the audience feel smart and secure when reminded how right they were in the first place.”

How might your organization tell a story that agrees with the worldview of your team members, patients, and guests so that their belief in and passion for the work that you’re doing is reinvigorated?

Elements of Storytelling

Last week we explored what it takes for a story to exist: an audience, a storyteller, and a journey to share. Now, let’s delve into the elements of story with organizations who bring Storytelling to life through their work. While we already know that it takes a beginning, middle, and end to craft the arc of a story, it can be more difficult to understand how to craft a health care Experience story, how to record that story, and then, how to disseminate it (it is called Storytelling after all). Where do we even begin this practice in our organizations?

This week, we’re featuring three different methods of bringing Storytelling to life. Envision what these Storytelling methods could look like in practice within your teams, and remember, while each day we are working tirelessly to change health care, we are also creating the stories to share with our team members, providers, patients, and guests.

Humanity’s Story


We love the folks at StoryCorps who are on a mission to “preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.” They work tirelessly to record the stories of ordinary people and share them in a way that properly celebrates the beauty of humanity in all of its challenges and triumphs. Initially StoryCorps was known for their  mobile tour —taking their iconic recording studio on the road to cities around the country to ensure they’re hearing stories in their most raw form: straight from the storytellers’ mouths. Next they added the StoryCorps app — putting the power of story gathering and storytelling into our hands. And now, during this time of Pandemic they’ve added a virtual tour to their suite of story collection methods. Partnering with various artists, StoryCorps selects particularly poignant stories to be illustrated and shared on YouTube and other social media platforms to appeal to visually driven audiences. Be sure to sign up for their podcast to hear a new story each week.