In the last blog, we discussed the concept of stories having a greater impact on people than facts. In this blog, we will explore why that is.
Humanity is an empathetic animal. There are many theories as to why we are this way (all of which relate to the previous blog). Regardless of the theory you support, one thing is certain: we long to identify with other groups of people. Whether that’s a church, a band, a sports team, a family, or a group of friends. We need connection.
Let’s break this down.
The conclusion remains objective: humanity is driven by emotion and our desire to connect with one another (friendships, love, communities). Because there is no irrefutable explanation for the cause (what made us this way), it becomes subjective (we must hypothesize why we are this way).
To some, we are empathetic because we are created in the image of God; there is a divine good in all of us, and we inherently care for and wish to connect with our fellow man.
To others, it is an evolutionary necessity; a human alone is useless, so out of natural requisite–us being eaten or starving to death if we didn’t hunt in packs– humans had to work together to survive and overcome other predators. The better you were at empathizing with other humans, the better you were at communicating with them, the better the whole group was at coordinating hunts and traps. Therefore, the better you were at understanding each other, the more likely your group was to survive and reproduce than other, less empathetic groups of Homo Sapiens.
Despite the stories one tells oneself on the matter, the fact remains: someone is more likely to support a cause that is backed by a compelling story, than a cause backed by impenetrable facts, and the former tends to outlive the latter.
We all know the tale of the Trojan Horse and the cleverness of the Greek’s taking of the city of Troy. But few know that the horse is largely agreed upon by historians to have not existed–at least not as how it manifests itself in the story.
It is much more likely that it was actually a battering ram, bearing horse-like qualities, which was also covered in an animal hide to reduce the damage of incoming flaming arrows. If it were a gift at all, historians speculate that was probably a ship, not a hollow wooden statue, as ships are called ‘sea-horses’ once in the Odyssey, and the same word used to describe men embarking on a voyage is used to describe the men entering the horse. Interesting stuff. But the grandeur of the story still overpowers the legitimacy of the facts.
We love stories.
We crave stories.
We are defined by stories; the ones others tell us, the ones we tell ourselves, and the ones others tell about ourselves.
We often are not aware of our personal mythology; the stories we tell ourselves and the things we do not question. A business (and an individual) would do well to deeply analyze what stories exactly they are perpetuating about themselves and others. They must decide with absolute precision what they want to convey and what they want others to say about them.
“The world is not made of atoms. It is made of stories.”
End Part 2
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