I have lots of conversations about stories. Late last week I was talking with somebody about rags to riches stories. They certainly do happen. In fact, I had commented about that terrific series of TV programs on the Men Who Built America. Some of those men went from rags to riches. A few of them went back to rags…proving that old adage about going from shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in 3 generations.
The world of business has dominated my adult life. Effective selling is comprised of a whole lot of listening, asking great questions and telling terrific stories. Not lies. Stories. I learned those things before I graduated from high school. That was in the era of Watergate – which certainly had an impact on my cynicism. It was proof that things aren’t always what they seem.
Unfortunately, marketing and sales often involve corrupt practices. That includes making up tales that sound great, but aren’t true. The Internet makes it easier than ever to lie. Plenty of people do it.
While I was preparing to go inside the gym to workout, I fired up my iPhone and shot this short video.
Because I don’t care if the stories are true. It’s not the facts of the story that really matter in the context of the conversation we were having about rags to riches tales. What matters is the moment of decision. Most often they’re described in vivid detail to compel listeners to understand the depths of despair…the low point from which the person can climb to find success. It makes the rise seem more spectacular. It makes us think, “Man, if they could overcome that — surely I can overcome my problems.”
So what if it’s not true? I argued that doesn’t diminish the strength of the point – that sometimes we don’t decide until our back is against the wall. Sometimes we neglect to make the best decision until we’re forced to by circumstances that seem so dire we conclude, “What do we have to lose?” Or, we grow so tired of the despair we conclude, “I’m not going to live like this any more.”
Yes, truth matters. No, I don’t want to deal with or engage people who lie in order to get business or promote themselves. But, there are still important things we can learn – even from the most made up stories.