Skip to content

Linking Story


So how do we put the three stories together? Your story of self is the foundation. Without a story of self why would anyone think you really know what you’re talking about. This is about life experience not technical expertise. Without a story of us there’s no leadership. Exercising leadership requires engaging others in working together. And without a story of now nothing happens. The thread that unifies all three is the values in which they are rooted. Their effectiveness is rooted in the power of the story moments (challenge, choice, outcome) with which it is built.

Self, Us, and Now

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? When I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?

~ Hillel (1st century Jerusalem sage)

Crafting a complete public narrative is a way to connect three core elements of leadership practice: story (why we must act now, heart), strategy (how we can act now, head), and action (what we must do to act now, hands). As Rabbi Hillel’s powerful words suggest, to stand for yourself is a first but insufficient step. You must also construct the community with whom you stand, and move that community to act together now. To combine stories of self, us and now, find common threads in values that call you to your mission, values shared by your community, and challenges to those values that demand action now. You may want to begin with a Story of Now, working backward through the Story of the Us with whom you are working to the Story of Self in which your calling is grounded.

Creating A Public Narrative

Now it’s time to put all three stories together in your public narrative: self, us, now. What are the values that link your self, us, and now? What theme links your self, us, and now? Are there particular images that link your self, us and now? You may begin your public narrative with a story of now, to call attention to your cause, move to a story of self, to explain why this cause is your cause, move to a story of us, to remind them why this cause is their cause, and back to a story of now to call on them to join you in action. You may also begin, as Obama did, with a story of self. And you could even begin with a story of us. There is no formula, but an effective public narrative will link all three elements.

Your Public Narrative is Always a “Work in Progress”

The goal of your work in this class is not to leave with a final “script” of your public narrative that you will use over and over again. The goal is to enable you to begin learning a process you can use to adapt your narrative over and over and over again, when, where, and how you need to in order to strengthen your own capacity – and that of others - for purposeful leadership and action.

Putting it All Together

We’ll be watching a five-minute Public Narrative by Maung Nyeu. While you watch it, think about the elements of SELF – US – NOW that you hear in his story.

Linking Story Example


Test your knowledge

Choose the answer that best describes a Linking Story?