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Real Life Leadership: The story behind "That Pile of Rocks" Worth Talking About

Whence the Origin of the Story

Johnnie Moore commented on Seth Godin's new book, All Marketers are Liars.
He said:

But if the aim of the storytelling is to conform to an established world view, where's the surprise? Somehow it feels like storytelling is being reduced to a calculated exercise in getting people to do things. Somehow that feels undynamic to me and lacking in the disruptive, unreasonable persistence of many entrepreneurs. The way some people are parsing Seth, the element of disruption and risk taking is getting lost in favour of what feels a bit paradigm-sustaining, rather than paradigm-changing. Find out what people think and recycle it to them with a bit of flourish. Where's the author's own passionate world view - the risk taking?

Seth responded:

My point is that you can't easily change people's minds, even with a powerful story. But you can (you MUST) surprise them if you want to be remarkable. You get in because you match their worldview. You spread because you're surprising or magical or special.

Here's my take.

Interpreting an idea for a particular culture requires not just knowledge of the topic, but knowledge of the group with whom you are trying to communicate. 

For example: explaining what a blog is to someone who doesn't have an email.  So, you tell a story.  But the importance isn't telling the story, but the message conveyed by the story.  There is an idea or a set of interconnected ideas that provide the foundation for the authenticity of the story.

So, to focus too exclusively on the story thing is to miss the point. The idea is that we are all explorers traveling in unknown lands trying to communicate with people who either have a predisposition to ignore us or think they have already made up their minds.

So, what then is at the crux of this interaction?  It is the relationship between two people. Or one person and a lot of individuals collectively.  We are not telling stories in the aether. We are telling them in a specific social, physical, relational, personal context.  The more authentic we are, getting to the trust issue, the more likely we are to connect with people.

Now this all has to do with the story.  It isn't about getting attention. That is about being remarkable. 

Recently, I spoke with a minister who is moving with his wife to England as a church planter.  He is going to a large city and will begin to meet people with the expectation of starting a chruch that eventually will be pastored by a native Brit.  I shared with him a little of this idea of being remarkable, and realized that the remarkableness has to be true to who you are.  And the remarkableness explains why the story is authentic. 

What we need are clearer examples of how this has been done. Examples that have been subjected to critical analysis that provides for a depth of understanding that can then be knowledge transferred to a wider audience.

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