I lost my distance eyeglasses a couple of weeks ago. Figuring that they’d show up sooner or later, I forced myself to wander through a blurry world. However, when all hope of such a reunion vanished, I made an appointment to see a local optometrist.

“Dr. B.” is a big, gregarious guy. He had a cowboy vibe about him–a cross between John Wayne and Chuck Connors–something that made even more sense when I learned that he grew up in Wyoming.

We ran through the traditional optometrist calisthenics. “Cover your right eye and read the bottom line. Good. Cover your left eye and do the same. Good.”

His massive hands turned little dials.

“Are the letters darker or lighter? Darker or lighter? Good.”

While he documented the readings off of the dials, something on my patient information sheet caught his eye.

“What’s Business Storyteller?” he asked in his Wyoming drawl.

“I teach business people how to take their ideas, messages and presentations and turn them into stories,” I said.

His eyes got big. “Ah, like Jesus?” he said enthusiastically.

I laughed. “Well, I guess I teach people how to tell business parables.”

“I tell stories all the time,” he said. “It helps my patients.”

“How so?” I asked.

“Take contact lenses. The technology has changed over the years, but some people are still using hydrogel lenses instead of gas permeable ones.” 

I loved where this conversation was going.

He continued. “I use stories to help them understand the difference. You see, your eyes need oxygen. Hydrogel lenses don’t let much air through. So, I ask my patients: Have you ever tried to breath through a straw? It’s hard, right? Now, what if I had you breath through five straws? It would be easier, right? Well, hydrogel lenses make your eyes breath through one straw. Gas permeable ones give ’em five.”

“That’s a great analogy,” I said.

“I’ve got another one,” he said, before diving into a description of how graduated prescription lenses are like pressing on a car’s gas pedal.

We can learn much from Dr. B. He’s an optometrist storyteller. He uses analogies (StoryHow PitchDeck Card #59) to transform complex concepts into simple ones. What analogies can you use to help your clients make better-informed decisions?

Photo Credit: Library of Congress