The Storytelling Animal – Jonathan Gottschall

Storytelling… you love it. You can’t live without. We all thrive in it. But how does it work? Where does it come from? This is one of the most interesting books on storytelling I have read so far. I came to realize that we spend about half of our lives telling stories. Mainly to ourselves: (day)dreams, finding meaning in factoids that are unrelated, debating conspiracy theories etc. We just can’t live without. We are addicted.

I came to realize that #FakeNews is #RealNews and vice versa. There is no such thing as real news. There are credible stories that are supported by facts, but there is no such thing as an objective truth. The danger we – as a society – are creating by dividing news into real and fake is that it opens the door for real censorship. I’m not sure I want that. I like my fake news, I like to ponder on what is relevant and not for me. I don’t want others telling me what is real. Because I know that when I believe what other say is real, I sacrifice my imagination and my own sense of reality for the drug I am provided.

Most Memorable Quote: “people remember what they can live with more often than how they lived”.

It’s the end of assuming our memories are correct. It reinforces for me the idea that there is only the present. All the rest are stories. Our memories are fabricated and evolve over time, depending on what we can live with in any given moment. Memories are not stored as pictures, but as bits and pieces of information all around our brain. Remembering something is trying to recompose the idea of what we lived (and you can be damned that you’ll adapt your memory as time progresses). In short nothing is real, except the feelings and emotions you experience in this very moment. Not the moment that just passed or the one that is about to come. Only now, in the present.

How is this important for leadership? It is crucial. Stories unite us, stories define us. Leaders create the story of the group they are leading. They form the memory and articulate the culture. Leaders emanate that culture and tell the story of the culture to the group internally and the world externally. Great leaders are great storytellers. They understand what it takes to build a story and infuse it with the elements a group needs to both bond and feel the drive to move forward.

 storytelling. #StorytellingAnimal


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