Karen Armstrong has written a piece in the Guardian today encouraging us to consider and accept multiple perspectives regarding the complex strife in the Middle East. She builds her point of view by comparing the multiple and contradictory stories told in religions and the similarly conflicted narratives told by the protagonists in the current struggle. Her ideas equally apply to business on a smaller scale. We are all are trying to make sense of what’s happening and what might happen and to dogmatically adopt a single truth will ensure the clash continues. As Armstrong says:
Human beings are meaning-seeking creatures; we crave narratives that have a beginning and an end – something that we rarely encounter in everyday life. Stories give coherence to the confusion of our experience.
And the screenwriter Robert McKee remind us that with stories, “What happens is fact, not truth. Truth is what we think about what happens.” (p. 25)
Karen Armstrong concludes her piece with a plea that businesses should also heed.
We must, therefore, make a concerted attempt to listen critically to all the stories out there in order to gain a more panoptic vision. This includes our own cultural narrative. Our modernity has liberated many of us, but it has disenfranchised others. Counter-narratives that question the myth of western freedom must also be heard, because they represent a crucial element in the conflicted, tragic whole.
McKee, R. (1997). Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting. New York, ReganBooks.
[via Robert Kall and Working Stories]
About Shawn Callahan
Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:
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