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Reflections 20th December

What’s on my mind

The power of story, and the responsibility of those of who tell them to themselves and others.

As we go into further restrictions, and personally the first Christmas in 45 years when we will not be with family, I cannot doubt the neccessity of the restrictions we are being asked to observe. However, the people flocking last night to disobey them by fleeing London before the limits kicked in had not bought any story other than their own. They had no buy in to what we need as community. I understand it – there was no real story to tell them otherwise.

“Following the science” is a management policy, not a story, and very few people get inspired by management policies.

We know lots about how stories work. Our hero(ine) leaves the normal world to set out into the unknown, to face a road of trials and meet mentors and antagonists, before finding, often uexpectedly what they seek and bringing it home. Applause and tears all round, except of course when they don’t find it, and we have a tragedy. either way, it’s about intent, courage and determination in the face of adversity.

It can also be very easy to tell a story without the personal resolve to see it through. It is the stuff of mission statements, the shadow side of marketing, and a refuge of politicians in trouble. Sell an end point, but gloss over the likely challenges of the journey.

The downside of irresponsible story telling is illustrated by the tale of boy who called wolf. After generating a few false alarms for fun, people ignored him when the wolf turned up, It didn’t end well.

Leadership is story, management is process.

We need story, told by responsible and courageous storytellers right now.

What’s making me think

Mindsets. Carol Dweck’s iconic work on fixed and growth mindsets seems important right now, and worth a read, or a reread.

Isolation. We have learned about ourselves during lockdown, including the fact that it has bernefits if we look. Good piece here from the Economist.

Adaptability. A thoughtful piece from Aeon Magazine on grit and determination.

True gratitude is a communal emotion, not a wellness practice. We are in need of community right now. More from this week’s excellent Aeon.

A quote

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”

Erin Morgenstern

Where I’m focusing

We are in need of new stories and new communities of practice to deliver them.

I’m focusing on that for 2021.

Filed under: Articles

About the Author

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Complexity and volatility create enormous opportunities for those willing to go beyond the boundaries of "business as usual" to explore the edges of their business. I am an entrepreneur, a coach, a creative thinker, and above all, an explorer of possibility.

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