Business Stories: The one about the …

Stories can be used in business (or anywhere) to illustrate, teach a point or offer an alternative view. Here is one of my favourites.

The Mechanic and The Surgeon Story

(perceptions, the devil is in the detail, the nature of differences)

A heart surgeon took his car to his local garage for a regular service, where he usually exchanged a little friendly banter with the owner, a skilled but not especially wealthy mechanic.

“So tell me,” says the mechanic, “I’ve been wondering about what we both do for a living, and how much more you get paid than me..”

“Yes?” says the surgeon.

“Well look at this,” says the mechanic, as he worked on a big complicated engine, “I check how it’s running, open it up, fix the valves, and put it all back together so it works good as new. We basically do the same job don’t we? And yet you are paid ten times what I am – how do you explain that?”

The surgeon thought for a moment, and smiling gently replying,

“Try it with the engine running”










How to use this?

Do you have a talk, blog post, presentation to give? Do you want to talk about a difficult situation in work? You could use this story as an opener, much as I have done here. 

You could use it in the middle to make a point or at the end to give a good finish and keep the theme of your presentation in the mind of the listener, reader or participant.

If its to illustrate a difficulty arising at work ie perceptions, then it would be perfect in a number of scenario’s. Such as, to discuss the story, make people laugh and then use it to bring up a difficult situation. The beauty of using a story in this way is that the story becomes a buffer for the real message, without losing the impact of what you want to discuss or convey.

A common sense warning

Make sure the theme is centred around the suggestions above in the brackets (or others you think would be appropriate), don’t just use it because you feel like it, or because it makes you laugh. 

When you use a known story, use it wisely, to create an impact and if it doesn’t fit, don’t use it. There is nothing worse than a contrived story that you are trying to make fit.

Lastly, in keeping with the Code of Story (if a story touches you – its good to share it). It is free to use and to pass on, so please do!



My pleasure Regina!

Regina Byrne

great example and helpful directions on how to use story – thank you

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