Good stories aren't always true.
At the start of every new year, we're bombarded with similar messages:
"Sign up for this gym and get fit fast!"
"Spend a few minutes doing this every day and your productivity will double!" 
"Join my at home sales team and get rich this year!"

Playing off of newly made New Year's resolutions, these stories appeal to something in us that wants to believe. Whatever that result is that you're seeking, you want to find a faster solution, you may even be willing to try something crazy to get it. 

Motivated reasoning is the phenomenon that happens when emotional biases lead us to make decisions based on how desirable they are, rather than how realistic they are. This can create a darker side to the power of stories - we are more likely to be taken in by a well-told story because it connects with our emotions, not logic. A good example is the story of Elizabeth Holmes' company, Theranos. Reputable investors were led to support a fairytale because it was a great story!

The next time you read or hear a story that makes you want to immediately act, pause for a moment and consider your motivations. Counteract the temptation to make a snap decision with a few thoughtful questions:
  • Could there be another version of “the story” that runs contrary to the one I’m hearing?
  • Which version do I most want to be true?  
  • Is there evidence that suggests the other version of the story may be more accurate?
  • Do I need to reconcile what I want to believe with what the evidence is demonstrating? 
There are moments when it's important to follow your gut and take a calculated risk, but often some simple research might reveal that beautiful sales pitch to be nothing more than a get-rich-quick scheme in disguise. The more you practice storytelling skills, the better you'll be able to see through other stories that are not authentic.

Until next time,


Learn to make an impact

Last week, many of you started our free course on Storytelling for Professional Impact. If you missed the kickoff, that's fine! You can join at any time. The whole course is divided into three parts to focus on the impact of insights, introductions, and inspiration. 

Story Lab

Practice your personal story at the next Story Lab! Join this complimentary small group coaching session to learn the fundamental storytelling framework, and practice sharing your story. Be sure to register because we keep these groups small. The next session will be Feb. 10 from 12-1pm CDT.
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