This month’s post
To doubt or not to doubt…
You aspire to be a writer? A musician? Or an inventor? But a small voice inside you wonders if you’ve got what it takes, if you’re the stuff from which talented personalities are made. And so you doubt. This doubt may be virtuous or destructive.
Virtuous because it it’s a measure of the strength of your desire. You wouldn’t doubt if you didn’t care that much. This doubt is telling you: I’m a writer and that scares me. Doubt is the sign of your vulnerability faced with something you deeply long for…
Destructive because this doubt can also paralyze you. If you heed it, it becomes a force than will hold you back, convincing you that doubt is evidence of your incompetence rather than your hunger. Game over.
If you doubt, you’re human. Only those who seek a quick and easy glory don’t doubt.
It happened to them first
People say: “Footballers are overpaid. There should be a law placing a limit on these guys’ salaries.”
They say: “CEOs are overpaid. There should be a law restricting the size of their golden parachutes.”
They say: “Beyoncé, or George Clooney, or Radiohead earn amounts of money that are out of proportion with what they give. There should be a law ensuring that the money is shared with emerging artists.”
But there will never be such laws, because these people are superstars. They’re the best at what they do. They alone can create the magic, thrill us, make us feel such powerful emotions. Human beings crave superstars and are willing to pay whatever is required to experience what only superstars can give.
And you could be one of them!
We come across superstars in every single organization in which we work. They’re paid four to five times as much as they colleagues. Normal. They do what all stars do: whatever it takes to be the best – particularly hard work – and to create magic. And so could you.
And what else?
The brain is a storytelling machine. This has considerable benefits, notably to interpret the world and be able to imagine something that doesn’t exist. For all other animals, the world simply is. The necessities of the moment run their lives. For us, the world is as we believe it is, and that too runs our lives. To make up these narratives, to interpret the world, the brain draws on whatever is available to it. Obviously, this includes everything that has been transmitted to you through your upbringing, but also all that is available in the moment. The brain creates a representation of the world based on what’s there, around you. This is why it is crucial to provide your brain with a balanced ‘narrative diet’. Too many news programmes and your brain will have you believe the world is only dangerous, threatening and depressing. Too many reality shows, and your brain will have you think that no-one on the planet has an IQ over 20, and will seek to adapt down.
This is particularly true now that we are under constant pressure from the images and analyses of recent terrorist attacks. Our brain assimilates these elements and transmutes them into stories that will determine how we’ll resolve – or not – this situation. Allow yourself to be immersed in this relentless media soup, and within a few days you’ll no longer have the narrative power to counteract it. Your world will turn into the one the terrorists want to impose: a world of fear in which danger is around every corner. Which is not true. Despite the horror of recent events, the world hasn’t changed. It is still dangerous. It is still thrilling. Cars still kill more people than terrorist lunatics. Making up stories of revenge and ever-increasing violence is exactly what the terrorist masterminds are aiming for. They have no power, no influence other than through stories. But it’s a formidable power if we’re not careful.
This month’s link
Barack Obama is a great orator.
An article in the New York Times describes his routine after hours. What does the US President do after dark? No surprises, here: he works. But his way of working differs from that of, say, George W. Bush Junior, who used to go to bed at 10 pm and rise at dawn, or that of Bill Clinton, who used to have debates and discussions late into the night with allies and journalists. Barack Obama works alone most of the time.
Some evenings are longer than others… They require more work than usual. These are the evenings when a speech needs preparing. And this might mean working until dawn. The speech Obama made when he received the Nobel peace prize took two whole nights, for him and for his team of writers.
There’s a reason why Barack Obama is a great orator.
A lot. Meticulously.
Najberg Milne news
Winning Hearts and Minds in London
- 30 November – 1 December 2016
- 18-19 January 2017
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Captiver & Convaincre (Winning Hearts and Minds) in Paris
- 28-29 November 2016
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Captiver & Convaincre (Winning Hearts and Minds) in Brussels
On 22 and 23 November 2016, Najberg Milne will run its first open course in Brussels. After London and Paris, we are establishing a permanent base in the European capital… Don’t hesitate to spread the news to your professional and personal contacts!
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Storytelling is an art, a science, a passion. Its principles will enable you to tell your stories in the best possible way, so that they hit the mark and fulfill their purpose. One of these fundamental principles is that a story should have a beginning, a middle and an end.
Seems obvious, right? But what does each of these elements, essential to EVERY story, consist of? The beginning, or hook, grabs your attention. The middle creates tension, conflict, suspense, sets up the stakes; it engages the emotions. The end resolves the tensions in a big final explosion!
Every self-respecting story comprises these three main components, every film, every novel, every short story. But also every joke, every speech, every TED talk, every pitch, every documentary, every educational handbook (the good ones), every biography…
A beginning, a middle and an end.
That’s the structure.