The world we see is dictated by the stories we’ve told ourselves about the world.
- The stories we tell ourselves about people of other faiths
- The stories we tell ourselves about where human beings came from
- The stories North Korean leaders tell its citizens about the outside world
- The stories we tell ourselves about gay people
- The stories we tell ourselves about what it means to be successful
- The stories we tell ourselves about Republicans
- The stories we tell ourselves about Democrats
- The stories we tell ourselves about how we manage our own strengths and weaknesses
- The stories we tell our kids about how to “get a job”
There’s a stark difference between facts and stories, after all.
When someone doesn’t call you back when they say they would, that’s the fact: They didn’t call you back when they say they would.
The story, however, is what we tell ourselves about that fact.
“Oh, they’re pissed at me.”
“I must have done something to annoy them.”
“They’re so disorganized and irresponsible.”
These are stories.
For all we know, they got in a fender bender and had to speak with the police, or their kid got sick at school and they had to go pick them up.
Our worlds are made up of stories — some big, some small — and they define the world around us.
In our day-to-day life, the way we feel about the items on the above list are more constructed from stories than from facts. The majority of the hatred and destruction we see on the news is born out of a terrible, tragic story that people have been convinced is a fact. (Likewise, the joy and beauty around us comes from stories, too — they are just very different ones.)
I think it would be great if we could spend more time pondering the stories we tell ourselves — and we should certainly learn to have more respect for the power these stories wield over the way we live our lives.
I once asked my mentor, how he was able to come up with such powerful, moving speeches on the fly.
He told me it’s about the change.
He said the story is about the challenge and the change, and change is where the value is.
I didn’t get it at first, but over time it really sunk in.
This is cool, J.D. Gonna be pondering it myself!
Makes me think of what makes us love a good movie — the change.
This is a great commentary on mental models and story telling! Josh, I would love to use ‘Your World Is Made Of Stories’ in our newsletter for aspiring leaders at our college system. We have a yearly professional development program for 30 Faculty and staff, and your perspective on this topic are so appropriate! May I have permission to do use it ?
Manager, Leadership Development
Lone Star College System