Are You Sticking With That Story?
Fact v Story
As both a student and practitioner of leadership, I have to say that this has been one of the most paradigm-shifting books I have ever studied. The premise of the book is demonstrated by a single horizontal line. At any given moment, we are either living unconsciously BELOW the line, or consciously ABOVE the line. In the coming days, I will have more to explain about what this means. But, let me share just one tidbit with you related to the stories we create.
Have you ever been in a public setting and noticed a stranger was looking at you? You know, that awkward moment when you make eye contact with someone who was not expecting you to look their way. You can tell instantly that they have been looking at you for a while in a curious sort of way.
It happens all the time. We are both viewer and viewee several times per day. What is taking place in these moments is our brains functioning as they were designed. It is the constant dance of our conscious mind and our subconscious mind and it is fascinating stuff to ponder.
According to information from The Biology of Belief by Dr Bruce Lipton. The subconscious mind can process 20,000,000 bits of info per second. The conscious mind can only process 40 bits of info/sec. So the subconscious mind can process 500,000 times faster than the conscious mind.
Dethmer, Chapman, and Kemp in The 15 Commitments of a Conscious Leader do a fantastic job of describing why and how this process is important to leadership. It is the difference between FACT and STORY.
Our subconscious minds take FACTS (unarguable information like he is wearing a black T shirt, cargo shorts, and a visor while filling up his Chevy Tahoe), and turns it into a STORY. He must be skipping work and heading out to play golf, for example.
We naturally take facts and interpret them. We give facts meaning by adding our judgements, opinions, and beliefs. But, our stories are made up. They are not true. They are simply the way we see the world.
Think about it. You take facts about yourself, other people and situations (past, present AND future) and make up stories about them.
FACT: I weigh five pounds less than one month ago.
STORY: I must be healthier.
FACT: That person is overweight.
STORY: They must be lazy and undisciplined.
FACT: That employee is a millennial.
STORY: He/She is going to be an entitled self-absorbed person who doesn’t know the value of hard work and loyalty.
FACT: Our quarterly sales are down 5%.
STORY: The sales team is slacking. (Or the favorite) It’s the economy.
And on and on it goes…, but as Dethmer, Chapman, and Kemp point out,
“Conscious leaders make a clear distinction between facts and the stories they make up about the facts.”
What would change for you if you could regularly separate fact from story?