To be storywise means first of all to ditch the story we are telling or being told about stories. Stories are not the answer, the save all, fix all, buy all, of leadership, economy, innovation or anything else. That is pure marketing hype. Substitute God or America or Buddha into any of the claims we story gurus perenially make and you see at once we are prone to messianic overstatement. Beware the breathless salesman!
Your first exercise in the storywise lesson book is to dissect the argument that I am making to you here about becoming storywise. Why should you buy my story? Aren’t I doing exactly the same as the story competent and story-smart merchants are doing? Maybe? Maybe not? How would you know the difference?
Once you have given me the once over, apply that same trick to yourself. Why would anyone buy your story? Behind our technique lurks something more important. But what is it? How would you describe that internal tribunal of yours that gets to decide?
Our challenge to you is, don’t buy this or any bill of goods before you question it, to test it. When you have decided, become more conscious of what made you decide. Overhear yourself in that most private discernment process.
If you do want to try storywise, work out why? Or why not? Maybe it says something about what you feel to be right and moral and true? Or the opposite? Maybe you have been conned and sold short before, seduced by some story that cost you? Then you have a good enough reason to want to wise up. But I don’t want you to pay up before you wise up. This is not another con. Wise up as to why you need to be storywise.
A NARRATIVE ETHICS
Storywise is not about telling stories better. Technique can only takes us so far. It is about telling better stories and knowing how to smell a ruse. Some stories, whether true or not, are deadly. There are ways we can teach you how to tell. You can learn how to recognize the characteristics of a con, and save yourself or your company or your nation from disaster. These principles are all embedded in a new field of practice called narrative ethics that identify the clear warning signs. They apply to electing presidents as much as to buying your refrigerator or the used car.
CLAIMING YOUR OWN EXPERTISE
One founding principle of narrative ethics is to recognize you as the expert of your own life. Often, your own unclaimed skills are contained in those life memories of when you knew something was not right, or something didn’t seem genuine. Think of that undbeatable offer that, at the time, seemed too good to be true and you turned it down, and it was too good to be true! Think of the boy or girl you didn’t marry, the job you didn’t take, the promotion you turned down, the great job you left. Most of us have a living experience of being storywise already, but don’t know how can we can tap that latent power, how to discover what we didn’t even know we knew.
Part of surviving into adulthood involves growing an instinct, a nose, a sixth sense. Some call it intuition, but storywise believes its an awareness that can be harvested. Storywise means shaping the stories that shape us. To do that, you first have to know how you are being shaped. Storywise stands out as a prophet among the story industry to say, “We have to stop conning ourselves and our clients”-Stories may be great for children but their power is nuclear in its capacity for destruction. Some stories need to be handled as HAZMAT, hazardous materials. No story is innocent.
THE REPUBLIC OF STORIES 2012
Watch this space at the Republic of stories to show you what a storywise point of view might look and sound like. We are going to need it for the coming elections, for the economic revival that everyone is preaching but refusing to practice, for the crisis of global climate that seems to be cooling, for the impact of new technology that some boost but more lament, for the next round of Middle East peace talks that will happen on cue in December 2012, the rise and fall of China, and for President Obama Mk II. You think in 2008, we were sold a story. We ain’t seen nothing yet!
OUR CATCH CRY FOR A NEW REVOLUTION
Our media and our political system that feeds off it rely on us to be uncritical consumers. The story they peddle to us too often makes us sound like we don’t have brains. That is why we end up shouting at the TV set. The revolution begins when the people stop buying this crap. Its OK to occupy the squares, and to have teach-ins, but this storywise project is an inside job. You can stay warm. We don’t need tents. Change happens when we withhold our belief, when we suspend judgment. Lincoln’s words for it were “When we disenthrall ourselves.” The story-smart gurus tell us that we need a rallying cry, like “Just Do it” or “We are the other 99%”. Well, I think we have one, if we can use a uncouth term beloved of those crazy Australians. The T- shirt will say “Storywise-shaping the stories that shape us,” on the front, and on the back, “Lets boycott the Bullshit.” Let us know if you want to join the movement. We’ll send you a T-shirt.