The Fallacy Of Storytelling – Important for your marketing, your autobiography, and everything in between

Day 5 of New Writing Habit

Lock and load! I have been keeping track of random ideas to write about in Evernote to pull from in the morning.

This prevents the need for innovation on the spot – very helpful!

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“History is written by the victors.” – Walter Benjamin

I’ve studied enough philosophy (and physics, interestingly enough) to understand there there is no meaningful, objective reality. After all, I am colorblind, and that alone causes me to view the world differently than you, not to mention any differences in beliefs, testosterone levels, or portfolio of life experiences.

But most of those examples are passive and uncontrollable shapings of experience…what about doing this intentionally?

Consider the last story you told someone – how you were late for work, or scored a number from that hottie across the bar.

We tend to have the opinion that our stories are “what really happened” but consider the perspective of the listener and how your version of the story entirely shapes their mental experience!

Here is an interesting example:

Say a business prospect rejects your proposal. What is the story you tell yourself and others?

Version 1 (negative): “I am not worthy of their business. I am too inexperienced anyways. I probably screwed up the proposal anyways.”

Version 2 (neutral): “Maybe they realized doing business is not a good fit right now. Oh well, you win some you lose some.”

Version 3 (positive): “Cool! Less work I have to do now. I will have more free time to spend with my family. There’s a reasonable chance they will want to work with me anyways.”

Which of these versions is “right”? The answer: none of them, or all of them.

You probably DID submit an imperfect proposal. You DO win some and lose some. And you WILL have more time to spend on other things.

But consider the emotional qualities of each of these stories, all of which are “true.” You sound like a loser to yourself and others in the first story, and the third sounds like an awesome opportunity!

What does this mean?

You can be INTENTIONAL about the kinds of stories you create in your life. In fact, you are already doing this!

Consider the social pressure to “talk things up.” We happily self-select the prettiest, happiest pictures of ourselves to put up on social media. We brag about that promotion we received even though we secretly worry that we are unqualified and about to be overwhelmed with work.

Maybe that hottie you got that number from was an incredibly mean person…

Here are 3 descriptions:

  • Warm-hearted with secret but intense insecurities
  • Millionaire poker player
  • Quirky and interesting person who is always doing something interesting

 

The secret (you see where this is going don’t you?): these are descriptions of the same person!

The mental picture we paint of each was dramatically different, however. And what if I wanted to describe this person to someone?

I have a friend who is a….[choose a description]

If I wanted to complain – Description 1.

If I wanted to brag – Description 2.

If I wanted to appreciate – Description 3.

Understanding the power and subjective stories can make life feel more like whatever you want it to feel like. You can be the hero of your story, the bad guy, the victim, the wise man. You can characterize yourself and your story however you’d like.

…and in the process control the opinions of others about you and your life.

I am not suggesting that this should be used to manipulate (although it can and does do that) but rather the effect is present regardless, and we might as well understand and take control of this intentionally to live the best life possible.

What is the story you choose?

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Here’s a cool video on Positive Perception: The 5 Minute Motivator

A related blog post by me on overcoming the Top 4 Fears That Control You

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