For a couple years, we have been working with Servant Leadership talking about the cross-section of character development, leadership, and cultural engagement. And the further we get into the journey, the more I see the importance of perspective. How it drives our behaviors by informing the way we think and believe and see the world.
We are a story-telling people. Before writing, stories were passed along through oral traditions. Our best lessons are learned through stories. Jesus taught mostly through parables. We are fascinated by stories – true stories, made up stories. Anything involving a character and an arc has a recipe for intrigue in the human psyche.
A World of Narratives
The question is what stories do we chose to tell? When an event happens, our internal voice is already working on a story to explain it. Our own sort of mythology. Sometimes it is true and sometimes it isn’t.If a group of people all encounter the same facts, the number of stories you will get surrounding it are as diverse as the number of people in the group. Because we encounter life in the middle of our story. Each event is not a new plot line, but a twist along a complicated and established (yet changing and evolving) story.
There is a world of narratives out there. We adopt some and make others up ourselves.
Is our story about failure or redemption? Anger or forgiveness? Suffering or perseverance?
The truth is it is about both. All. But we are too small and the cosmos too big to hold it all in at once. And so we put it into bite-sized forms. We chose a narrative. We cast ourselves into a role.
The power of this is astounding. We start to play into the role we create for ourselves (or the role we accept from others). It helps determine our behavior and the way we think about ourselves. We become the character in the story we chose for ourselves.
So how do we measure the truth of our stories?