The Power of Stories


I‘ve been a fan of  Sir Ernest Shackleton. His Antarctic expedition and his leadership have always inspired me. But this isn’t a post about Shackleton. It’s about the ad and the power of stories.

The account goes something like this: In preparation for one of his upcoming expeditions, Shackleton took out a newspaper ad which reportedly generated 5,000 responses. I googled the ad again, a couple days ago, and discovered a near 20 year debate among researchers as to it’s origin and authenticity. Most conclude that the ad is not Shackleton’s at all. Some are convinced it’s the  work of a copywriter who inserted the ad in a 1948 book entitled  The Hundred Greatest Advertisements. No one knows for sure.

But none of that matters.

I’m convinced the ad will continue to be printed on mugs and T shirts and posters. Why? Because of  the “truthiness” of it. The ad connects us to our own personal struggle. Good stories tell us what we want to believe about ourselves. The ad challenges, even compels us to face  uncertain and insurmountable odds. It also holds out the hope that we really can overcome.

And that’s what we all want to believe.