So What’s Your Story?
by Kevin D. Crone
It seems that everyone and every entity has a story and it’s made up. Most times, if they’re repeated enough, even those that are a myth are believed. Cultures are made up from stories. It lives and is spread by conversation and they can control our destiny if we allow it.
Let’s look at Canada’s story. Our history shows that we were never trying to be anything, rebel against anything or fight anyone on our land, except in 1812. We never rebelled against the British or anyone. We just survived. We went on our business and wanted to be left alone. Our west wasn’t won by fighting each other. We somehow just made it through whatever. “Whatever” is the key Canadian language. We roll with things. Maybe it’s the effect of the weather, but we seem to be a calm, reserved bunch (except in a hockey game). As a result, we might appear to have little purpose and no compelling desire. Too often we wait to be asked to the dance of life. We should discover it ourselves, then create the life we want.
America wrote their mythical story. They seem to know who they are. They are brash individualists who aggressively fight for everything. They use their constitution like it was some mythical, magical, never before heard of story of democracy that makes them special. “We are the best” as we hear from our American friends. Hollywood spreads this conversation. It works for them.
It has been tough describing who we are and what it is we want. The British North American act offers “peace”, order and good government. It’s about the how but not the what or the want. Much has been written about us having a self image issue. We tend to compare ourselves to America and get peeved off that they know little about us or pay little attention to us.
It can be tough excelling in a laid back culture. We have picked up the proper manners and politeness from Britain and seem to be in a constant state of apology. But that story, and its resulting self image issue, doesn’t control everyone’s life but it does have an effect. It sure can be getting old in a rapidly changing global and connected world that requires adaptability. Is success bad and can we succeed in Canada? No… and of course we can succeed. Do we all lack self-confidence? No! But we always have to work on it or it will come naturally. Can we excel at innovation instead of being good copiers? Of course we can.
We have invented lots of stuff, but we lack in productivity because of our conservative, cautious, and looking for what’s wrong thinking. The resulting failure-phobic attitude is behind the lack of innovation that’s always brought up by the Conference Board of Canada or the Fraser Institute or the Governor of the Bank of Canada. We always have to stir up our enthusiasm even though the story says we don’t like any kind of rah rah. But we can. And, when we do, we excel! We EXCEL! In our own humble way.
Stories can persist and new positive, hopeful ones can be created and told. I think Canada is emerging into a new story. It started with Expo ’67, then Canada Cup Hockey, the Olympics and has been permeated by our value driven, peacekeeping actions around the world.
Our millennials are telling a great story. They’re not searching for who we are – they already know. They love Canada and nothing seems to be impossible. To them, Canada is humane, cool and full of opportunity. It’s about reasonableness, calmness, sanity, and we look after each other. Canada makes a lot of people feel welcomed and loved. It’s a place where dreams happen and people get along. We sure get big expensive government and I expect the millennials will be more engaged in making government work to our values while watching our money better. A good story is powerful.
Most marketing is just sizzle. But marketers use a great story to move the marketplace and it works. Brands matter in today’s world, at least for a while. Most political promises (stories) are nonsense but we still elect people without knowing and thinking through what we want, and know what they want and are doing.
Most excuses we give ourselves for not trying to achieve more in life and business are nonsense. Many people don’t take accountability for their lives. Yes, a lot of stuff just happens even when we have decent plans, so it’s easy to sit back and blame, justify, and deny rather than seeing problems as stepping stones to opportunities – then aggressively pursuing our dreams and goals.
So we know that when there is clarity around what we want and dream about, and tell it enough to ourselves and others, we can begin a new restart and this creates hope and ultimately can cause focus and persistence. So my fellow Canucks, let’s remind ourselves that we all need dreams, hope, focus, and persistence around our wants. (On their own, those attributes mean little). And it’s up to us to create the successful life we want or we can become prisoners of our old culture and past.
Our country needs more clarity. Our businesses need it. Our families need it. We need it. So what is it you want? What will you stand for? What new expanded story can you begin create for 2017 and beyond? You’re not a prisoner of culture! Circumstances affect you, but they don’t rule you! You can have what you want.
Before too long, write down:
• What is it you want, what is your dream?
• What kind of a life do you want?
• What kind of person would be living this way? What would they be doing? What would they know?
• What do you need to plan out so you can execute on getting or doing what’s required in 2017 to get there?
When we answer these questions, we can begin a new story that will pull us to our desired future.
Have a great week!
Kevin D. Crone
Dale Carnegie Business Group
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