We have all heard the saying, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.
This was the first image that came to my mind when I heard Governor Brown recently declare a drought state of emergency and ask Californians to conserve water. The press was saturated with stories about why we need to save water but what was missing was more important – how we can save water.
Our client, the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), has done a great job providing the answer and doing it through storytelling. On their website, the SDCWA has stories of real people – who they call Water Saver Superstars – from around the region who provide tips and ideas for conserving water. Some of my favorites include:
- We replaced our front lawn with drought tolerant cactus and succulents a year ago and we now have much more color and texture and it lasts throughout the year…and the cost to put in the new plants and mulch was fully covered from the WaterSmart program and we have reduced our landscape watering by more than 60% (and I don’t have to mow the lawn anymore). Our only regret is why we didn’t do this before. Thaddius from Chula Vista
- “I fill a watering can with water from the faucet as it heats up. I water plants with the conserved water from the watering can. I turn off the shower when I put conditioner in my hair. I sweep the pavement instead of hosing it down. I place a bucket outside when the rain falls. I call a plumber whenever a pipe starts to leak. “ Jill from San Diego
- I cut the top off a 2 liter plastic bottle. Fill with water and place in the toilet flush tank. Each flush will save 2 liters of water as the bottle displaces that amount. Hazel from El Cajon
The lesson here is if you want to change behavior, it’s important to not only talk about why change is needed, but also show how to change behavior. And a great way to do this is by using personal stories. If you are successful at that, you may just get the horse to drink.
Do you have some good examples of how personal stories can be used to change behavior? If so share it with us on Facebook or Twitter.