What are Transformational Stories?

We often think of learners as numbers, unembodied spirits who hope to learn new skills from our training.  But learners aren’t automations who do training because they are programmed to.  They do it to achieve a better life, be more confident in what they do, improve their performance.  And that’s why Transformational Stories are so powerful.  Because they demonstrate that change is possible, that a route to a happier destination is possible.

As testimonials and other stories on sales pages, Transformational Stories add credibility to training and help sell your message.

Example: How a transformation occurs.

A transformation story starts by explaining a problematic situation; then it explains how that problem was solved; and lastly, it shows how the situation has improved.

The example I’ll show you is how I overcame my initial fears of becoming a classroom trainer.

When I started in 1992, the fear of talking to people who might know more than me about a subject felt like an excruciating process.

Next it shows the details of the problem:

I felt slow, I struggled to get my ideas on paper.  I was a procrastination champion.  I thought writing lessons was just difficult, and that the torturous process was just normal. 

Next comes the description of the actions undertaken to solve that problem:

Each action is something I’ve learned:

But, overtime, I learned I was wrong.  I learned how to troubleshoot my process and how to work with my inner critic.  I learned how to match my writing to my audience and my learning objectives.  So, I quit procrastinating (mostly).  And so, I now look forward to new challenges.

So, the second paragraph (above) is the second act of this story, explaining how the situation changed.

Lastly, there’s a 3rd act – a description of the improved life:

Discovering the joy and satisfaction of writing helped me become a successful instructional designer.  I designed programmes that I presented on an international stage.  I write for eLearning programmes that people use on the Modlette’s platform.

As I mentioned in an earlier article, stories are always specific.  A story tells what happened to one specific person.  In this case its my own personal story of transformation:  How I turned from a procrastination champion into an appreciated training designer.

But a story always taps into a universal truth, too.  Everyone can improve.  Everyone can transform their lives.  The specifics of such transformations may differ, but the truth about transformation stands.