Growing as a confident and influential communicator takes continuous practice to build your storytelling skills.

But our brains are biologically driven to be lazy.

Therefore, I highly recommend James Clear’s book Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results, to help you make using the ABT a potent habit every day in your communications. 

To incorporate habits that work for us we need to create what he calls a habit loop of Cue » Craving » Response » Reward.

One of the powerful ways to incorporate a more productive habit is something called “Habit Stacking.” You attach a new habit to something you routinely do.

Here are three daily rituals you can use to stack the habit of writing ABT’s to grow your narrative intuition.

DAILY MORNING HABIT: Use the ABT to set your goal(s) for each day as follows:


Today I will accomplish sending the proposal on our new H.R. initiative to Cindy by 5 pm, and it’s important because we need her buy-in to proceed by August 1. But I sense that Cindy is stuck in status quo thinking and she may fear the change we’re proposing. Therefore, to place the importance of our ask in a context she will appreciate, I will start with a compelling short story about change and what happens when an organization doesn’t move fast enough.

Or, your ABT will work on seemingly mundane tasks:

Today at 9 am I will follow up with Jerry who’s pissed because people keep taking his food from the fridge AND it’s important because his attitude is impacting our team. BUT I’ve been procrastinating because I know it will be an annoying conversation. THEREFORE, I will eat the frog to help him feel heard and make the rest of my day (and hopefully his) less stressful.

You have just storified your important To-Do’s reframing them from tasks to story scenes. In addition to building muscle memory around the ABT, this reframing ignites your narrative brain propelling your story forward. Write all of your daily goals as ABTs and watch what happens.

Now it’s your turn:

Today I will accomplish (Precise outcome) by (Precise time) AND it’s important because (Specific impact).

BUT (Specific challenge you are facing that stands in your way).

THEREFORE, I will (Specific action you will take).

9-to-5 HABIT: Apply the ABT in your work

Email writing is the ultimate habit stack. You have to write them anyway. Why not use these messages to build your ABT storytelling skills?

Write three emails at a minimum that begin with your ABT and pay attention to how this habit will clarify your message and amplify the impact of your correspondence.

Plus, you’ll simplify your life by shortening the amount of time it takes to write your emails. Your recipients will love you for it, too.

6 PM HABIT: Answer the question “How was your day?” with an ABT.

Even if no one asks you how your day was, at least feed your narrative mind by jotting down your ABT as a follow-up to your daily goals and see how your story comes to life.

I had a great day by accomplishing my three priorities and we got a new opportunity to grow the business. But now I think we’ll be understaffed, impacting our customer service. Therefore, I know our HR plan for Cindy is more urgent than ever.

By doing the above, you will exercise your brain using the ABT dumbbell, which will strengthen your narrative intuition. Pretty soon you’ll be thinking in Set Up | Problem | Resolution foundational story structure for every business challenge and opportunity you face.

You will excel through the stories you tell. I promise.