We are in a time of stories.
Stories we tell each other about what is going on and about what we believe will be.
Stories we tell others about ourselves. Stories we tell ourselves about us.
Stories are works of art, not logic. Where science and mystery meet. They are where our Muse lives.
In the headlong rush to efficiency, we have tried to commoditise stories. We have structures, courses, graphic support. Marketers can think stories belong to them. They don’t of course.
There is no such thing as an efficient story. Goldilocks and discovery of perfect porridge.? Jack and the genetically optimised beanstalk?
Stories are wonderful because they are always imperfect, and inefficient. They require effort, and multiple visits to get the best out of them.
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.Leonard Cohen. “Anthem”
Stories work because they leave us room to insert ourselves into them, flaws and all.
They offer us a glimpse of an alternative to where we are, and the possibility of redemption.
And Good Company
In “How many friends does one person need” Robin Dunbar offers valuable insight.
No more than Five for a leadership team, Fifteen for a management team, One hundred and fifty people for an effective organisation unit. We cannot meaningfully integrate more than 150 people into our lives. remeber their names, notice their lives, think about them. More than that and we end up in the vast expanse and shallowness of social media. Connection in name only.
Anthropologists understand story.
Jim Rohn, a coach, has asserted that we become the average of the five people we most associate with. Psychology and neuroscience as well as intuition back him up.
Now, more than ever, with vast swathes of all media either complaining about whose fault Coronavirus is, or offering digital equivalents of snake oil, choosing who we associate with is important.
I notice that those who shout loudest often have no “skin in the game”, but are quite happy for you to trade yours and watch – either for attention, or money, or both.
The people to associate with are those who value you for who you are, understand that they don’t know the answer, but will by your side as you find out together.
In the Right Surroundings
We get the most out of great stories in the right surroundings. The surroundings bring context, atmosphere and shared experience.
Who ever listened, rapt, to a great story huddled round a radiator?
Fires, crackling and flickering, give us a shared focus and bathe us in warm light. They keep the spirits our our doubt at bay. They are sociable and memorable. Precious moments in time.
Great stories, like great leaders, are merchants of hope.
As we sit here, socially distant we do not have to be socially isolated. What people see of you as you Zoom or Teams away speaks volumes. Not only how you’re dressed, but what’s behind you. It shows what interests you, and where you’re comfortable. Clever “green screen” backgrounds are efficient, but as evidently false as a Bank’s marketing promise.
Turn up as who you are, where you are like it matters and you’re pleased and relaxed to be in the company of others. You don’t have to impress. You just have to be real.
At an Imperfect Time
There is never a perfect time; only perfect timing.
If we can balance real pleasure in the moment being lived, whilst accepting its passing we can start to do some good.
Whether we choose to see the present time as one of looming danger, or emerging opportunity, we are right.
The difference is the stories we tell ourselves, and the company we keep.
Imperfection presents us with a perfect opportunity.
Do one thing in pursuit of your story. Today. Perfect timing.