You know when you’re looking for wifi and a whole host of wifi networks appear on you phone or tablet?
So, the other day, one appeared called ‘Hidden wifi’.
Not so hidden then!?
A few days ago, standing outside Pennsylvania Avenue, amongst the crowds, there were a dozen Secret Service operatives.
Is that what they’re called? Operatives? Or have I seen too many films? Agents maybe? No that’s definitely films.
Anyhow, the thing that struck me was, they were all wearing a vest, on the front of which were the words SECRET SERVICE. Capitalised and boldly displayed. Not so secret then? If it says what you do on your t-shirt.
We like secrets. More though when we can reveal them. “Have you heard…?” “Did you know…?” Knowing a secret is in itself a currency we value.
What’s that about?
We love stories.
Not just stories told in books, or on film, or in conversation. We love our stories about ourselves.
We don’t speak them out loud often. We don’t act them out on stage or on screen. We don’t share them with the world, in our workplace or at home. Rather we tell them to ourselves. Quietly. So quietly they are merely whispers. To those around us, these stories have no discernible words, no beautifully drawn pictures to admire, no compelling narrative to hook our attention, no plot, no beginning or end.
Instead the stories play out in our thinking, in how we behave, in how we are in the world. They show up in what is possible and what limits us. They control us. They become a self fulfilling prophecy. We become the actor, the main character in our pastiche of ourselves.
And we run our stories over and over. Day in day out. Week in week out. Inside.
Your past is just a story…
and once you realise this, it has no power over you
What we need is freedom from the story of our past.
Freedom to write a new story of our future.
A colleague of mine recently copied the team on a document. They failed to copy me. I only discovered this when another colleague asked me for a view on the work.
This was the third time this had happened. The team is only six people and we have been formed for about six months and so I have viewed this as interesting. Actually no, I have viewed it with suspicion. I have started to create stories, in my head, about a hidden intent, tales about a potential dislike or disregard for me. I have been telling myself that once is a mistake, twice is careless, three times is deliberate.
I have of course taken an adult approach to this and spoken to the individual directly. (You know I’m lying here, right?)
Yesterday I was in a team meeting and another colleague began a discussion on a topic they are leading. They referred to the pre-read they had shared. I said I hadn’t received it and they apologised and sent me a link to the soft copy on our systems. I received the email and clicked the link. I didn’t have access rights to the material.
Now my story has legs. It has all the makings of a novel. With characters, twists of plot and an evil back story. I have trapped myself in a fabrication of my own making. I am unconsciously looking for evidence that my tale is correct.
Imagined dragons. Stories of the mind. Myth and truth.
I sat the other day with about fifteen like minded people.
We were invited to share something we wanted more of in our lives.
We were sitting in a circle.
I have on several occasions been invited to share my story or something significant about me in a group environment. The most successful of these has always been in a circle, facing each other. It is no accident that village elders often sit in a circle; indeed many cultures do this. Sitting in circles, around a fire, in a yurt, on the desert floor. Children often do it in our primary schools at reading time.
Seeing the faces of the speaker and your fellow listeners builds a bond, draws you to the story, generates a trusting, safe environment. Nobody is in a position of power, authority, dominance. Or in a position of inferiority, subjugation, minority. Everyone is equal.
Strange then that in our places of work, many meeting tables are square or oblong and we are so often organised in rows. Face to face, back to back, side to side.
No wonder we find it hard to be heard.
“I might have told you this before…”
I say that quite often. Or something similar. Usually I’m about to tell a story. A story that makes a point, or enhances a previously made point. Or maybe it’s a story to support or refute the point you just made.
I know the story. I’ve said it before. I just can’t recall whether I told you. Or someone else. Or if it’s just a story I tell myself. One of those ‘in head practice’ stories. Or, one of those conversations where only I’m present. Me talking to me.
Usually I go ahead anyway. Mostly people are polite. Sometimes they say, “I know, you’ve said before.”
I’ve been on the receiving end too. Someone tells me a story. One they’ve told me before. Maybe twice before. Or five times. They tell it with gusto. Like it’s new. Sometimes the context is different. Mostly it’s not.
It’s as if we like our stories. Like a good book, we’re happy to read them several times. The story is what matters. The person we’re telling, not so much. The context and relevance, not so much. If those things mattered equally, we might remember. But no. The story comes out again. The story is what matters. It’s as if actually we’re telling ourselves. We telling and listening. The other person is incidental in this transaction.
What about our life story? Is that a story we tell ourselves? Over and over? Is that a story we share with others? Over and over?
Is that a good book?