Friday, May 29, 2015

Magical Stories

Without a good story, nothing sticks. We see facts, we remember stories. I have been absolutely, brutally, and mercilessly thumped by two different 4 year olds in the last few months in memory games. When I play, I have to concentrate deeply. My only chance of getting close was when an interesting TV show was on in the background or if a younger sibling could act as a diversion. Adults are better at ignoring fun things to do 'work'.

The only triggers I could use was hair colour and trying to connect them to people I knew. Unless it was Dopey or Snow White. But then there were lots of Snow Whites, so I got confused. I don't have stories. I love Memory Tricks. Computers are far more powerful than us at crunching numbers and doing repetitive tasks. They don't even come close to the magic we create by connecting dots. It is really frustrating when we can't bring something to mind. When it is on the tip of our tongue. An actor's name. A place. A movie. What's amazing though,  is the connections we can make even with the gaps. It is why most progress starts as a theory, and the proofs come later. We don't let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Our minds are pretty brutal at forgetting things that don't matter. I cringe when someone asks me to do some arithmetic because 'he is an Actuary'. My 10 year old self would destroy me at any multiplication games. Excel made me very lazy. It didn't matter any more.

While I am all for rationally thinking through the facts of things, we dismiss stories at our peril. It is the story that makes us wonder. Magic isn't awesome after you know how the trick works. Unless there is another trick to figure out. Stories allow us to do things that we can't explain. The Placebo Effect.

It will be stories that help us break down the silly idea of borders and start thinking of ourselves as Global Citizens. It was stories that helped forge national identities in the first place. It is stories that make languages suddenly become relevant, and easier to learn. It is understanding people's stories that help us build businesses that matter.  It is stories, rather than an equal amount of stuff, that will make us all Cultural Billionaires.

Involving people we care about in our stories creates the real magic.
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