Mind needs to tap into the unseen polarities of itself to realize for itself its own inner truth which results freedom and delight as its end. When inquiry is carried out on the validity of its story, the outcome is not really that simple. And if mind can go all the way, it can really blow itself away in joyous awe!
What stops me from anything or for the matter of fact, stops anything to happen to me or for me is the story I tell about it.
Here is a story which I found amusing reading this morning and wish to share.
Wishing you the same joy, if not more as you immerse yourself in the truth of this story, albeit just another story.
Recently I took on a coaching client who is also a motivational speaker, author, and seminar leader of some repute. I will call him “Mack,” for fun and his anonymity. As I first began meeting with Mack to coach him on expanding his business, he told me the story of his income in the past few years and brought up the “fact” that 9/11 had harmed him financially, as it harmed everyone else in “this business.”
“It didn’t harm me,” I said. “And I’m in this business. Just as you are. In fact, 9/11 helped me a great deal.”
“Well, I don’t know what you’re talking about because 9/11 knocked the wind out of me. I had a bad year because of it. A bad two years, really.”
“That’s your story, I guess.” I said. “But that’s not the truth.”
“It’s not the truth? Hey! Talk to anyone in the speaking industry.”
“It’s their story, too. I know.”
“Are you saying 9/11 didn’t harm my business?”
“That’s what I am saying.”
“Well, 9/11 happened. And my business went down the tube. So what else could have done that?”
“You. You and how you respond to 9/11.”
“How is that?”
“You created a defeated, inadequate response to 9/11.”
“Really. And until you can see that, we aren’t going to get very far with this coaching.”
Mack said nothing. I could tell he was trying to decide if I was right. Finally I could see that he may have become open to revising his story about his career after 9/11.
Mack said, “Okay. So maybe that’s true. Maybe it was my weak response to 9/11 that hurt my business. So what needs to change in me?”
“All that needs to change is the story. The story of you now says that 9/11 came along, and 9/11 had power and you had no power, so you lost money. You made that story up, just as you might have made up a story about a dragon and a knight and a maiden for one of your kids one night. It’s totally made up. My response to 9/11 got me business because I made up a more useful story for myself.”
“What did you make up?”
“I made up that 9/11 was a terrific opportunity for me to help clients who had the wind knocked out of them and were wanting something to revive them. I made up that, because so much training was cancelled, it created an even greater need for training than before. I made up a story that said 9/11 opened the door to huge opportunities with organisations that were demoralised by cancelling company meetings. And by using that story instead of yours, I thrived after 9/11.”
“So, my story wasn’t a very good story.”
“Not very useful. It was good, in a way. It served that part of you that wanted an excuse. Stories always serve some part of us. We think we need our alibis. But it’s up to us to find out if they are serving the weak part or the stronger part.”
“So my story was weak.”
“It portrayed you as weak and 9/11 as strong. You were not the knight in your story. So the story of you was kind of depressing, really. Ever go to a movie and come out thinking the movie was depressing? I listen to the story of you and 9/11 and I am feeling depressed just listening to it.”
Even though Mack made his living teaching other people to find strength in adversity and to look for the lesson in every problem, he was not learning from his own speeches. It was easier for him to live inside a story about himself that made him one more victim of Osama bin Laden.
Even to this day you will hear motivators such as Mack talk about what 9/11 did to them. Other businesspeople, too! I hear this from them all the time. And when I hear it I think that they are the idiots Shakespeare wrote about. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. Because they are not “stupid” idiots, really, as much as unconscious people living in stories that are full of sound and fury (the planes CRASHED into the towers, and I was so ANGRY, but I LOST a lot of business!), in Shakespeare’s words, as in a tale told by an idiot:
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
~ Macbeth, V.v ~
Mack struts and frets after I talk to him about revising his life story so that he, himself, will have more of an active part in it. Right now, he wants to portray himself as a victim of things that happen to him. He wants to say to me that life has happened to him.
But if I’m to work with him at all, I must return him to the source of his power. I can’t have him not see the stories he’s telling. Because once he sees the stories and their power to limit him, he can tell new ones. We communicate our value through stories, not through claims or sales pitches, but through stories. Mack couldn’t see that. He would make up a story, such as the one about 9/11, and then tell it as if it were the truth.
But, it was just a story.
Stories have huge power to alter the whole world. Look at the story of Jesus and Lazarus. It wasn’t really raising Lazarus from the dead that impacted the world in such an unforgettable way (indeed, there are groups of scholars now trying to prove that the story was apocryphal), but rather the story about it. It was the story of Lazarus that spread around the world and changed the world.
Notice how we subconsciously know all of this already. Inside, at some level, we do grasp the power of stories to create who people think we are. People will bring up the name of someone and ask, “What’s the story with that guy?”
Or see if this scenario sounds familiar:
“Did you meet our new division manager?”
“Yeah, I met her yesterday, have you?”
“No, not yet. What’s her story, anyway?”
And then will you trust what you hear? Sometimes our stories are so divorced from reality it becomes comic. Ask four children who grew up in the same family to individually recount some major event in the family history. Some traumatic moment that everyone should remember. The amazing result is that you will get four entirely different stories. Four different perceptions based on four separate interpretations that create four stories, not one.
What do these stories signify? External reality? Was our dad really that distant and cold? There’s no truth to that, just a strange mix of stories and tales told by idiots. The stories say more about the teller’s internal fears and hurts than they do about external behaviour. We project these stories out onto the world and make the world reflect the inner feeling.
Stories alter external reality to fit our pre-existing beliefs.
But what fun when we see and understand this! Because we get in touch with that shaping power we have, as an artist working a spinning wheel of wet clay does. What shall I make Dad into today? And who would I, myself, like to be?
~ Excerpts from Are You a Story Told by an Idiot, The Story of You (and How to Create a New One) by Steve Chandler ~