Control the Narrative, Control the World


I’m sure that we all remember hearing that juicy rumor back in high school that you couldn’t wait to tell your best friend, who tells their best friend, and on and on. Now fast forward to your life as an adult.. (Depressing… but moving on). When you think of your co-workers, you subconsciously consider some better than others right? Are you good at what you do? Everyone lives with their own narrative, but sadly those narratives are much too often controlled by people other than you! Rewind back to high school and whether that rumor was true or not, good or bad, everyone is repeating it and talking about it. Rumors can drive narratives, and narratives control your future. So who is controlling your narrative?

The definition of a narrative: “a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious”. The definition actually includes that it can be true, OR NOT. I have seen narratives that promote a persons’ career and narratives that ruin them as well. It’s funny because the same words can be used in a positive or negative light depending on the current narrative. Let’s look at a couple popular examples.

We all know Steve Jobs and the story of his career, how he was called ridged, demanding, a micro manager, and controlling. He was even fired from his own company! How crazy is that?! All of those adjectives were made out to make Steve Jobs sound bad when times were tough and other people didn’t understand his vision. Remember that this was before Steve Jobs was a public figure and his co-workers actually created this negative narrative. Don’t let your co-workers do this to you! The reality is that all of those adjectives are what drove his company to its successes. And only once his career tragedy turning into a success did all of those same words magically became compliments! Funny how that works isn’t it?

Alright now let’s look at another example, Jim Harbaugh. In this example interestingly enough it’s the media, not co-workers, who created the narrative. While he was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Harbaugh was called all the same adjectives as Steve Jobs. “He’s not a player’s coach, practices are too hard, and he doesn’t tailor to the media.” So the 49ers decided to fire Jim and list all of those reasons why. Then they hire someone with the opposite character traits of Jim, and Jim goes on to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Well what do ya know?! Jim achieves instant success at Michigan, while the 49ers became arguably the worst team in the league overnight. Funny how that works huh? So all of those ‘bad’ adjectives that you were using to describe Steve Jobs and Jim Harbaugh have now changed to compliments, and they were actually exactly what you needed! You simply allowed someone else’s narrative to affect your perception.

In both of these cases, and many others in life, the decision makers’ listened to a wrong narrative and let it affect their decision making. It results in more power for the narrator (the media or your co-workers) and they don’t deserve any. Don’t let the media, or your co-workers drive your narrative. Be smarter than that; drive your own narrative and be hesitant to take others for their word.

Think about this; when you witness something for the first time without any predetermined opinion, you create the narrative for what you saw. For example, let’s say that you are taking a morning jog along the ocean by yourself. As you are running you see a small child struggling to swim out in the water. A man swims out to try and save the young buy but unfortunately is unsuccessful, and he swims back to shore. You are the only witness to the series of events. As people now swarm to the scene, the narrative of this man’s life and this event are in your words. What if you say that they were swimming together and it looked like the man deliberately tried to drown the boy? Or what if you say he tried to save the boy in a heroic effort but came up short. You are literally in control of whether this man will be in court for a murder trial, or in the local news for being a hero. The power that you have by witnessing that for the first time is unreal! Now this is a terrible and extreme example but it gets the point across. Perception is reality and narratives are reality in the world today.

People take what you say, in the light that you create, and that becomes the public narrative. It can be the difference of someone being a hero or being put in jail. Now enter your workplace. Think about all of your coworkers and whether they are good, bad or just average. But think about how your perception is affected by a predetermined opinion. You were probably told by someone else whether that person is good or bad before you ever had a chance to form your own true opinion. Think about it toward everything in life.. How many original opinions or narratives have you adapted, or are you just going with the flow of popular opinion? The public majority follows the popular narrative and that is why you must control your own narrative if you want to control your future. Take control of your life!

So the moral of the story is this, don’t allow other people to control the narrative of your life! The next time you are joking around with your friends about being ‘lazy,’ ‘organized’ or a ‘procrastinator,’ be aware that you are writing your own public narrative. They listen to your definition of yourself and it translates to their definition of you later down the road. Instead, try boosting yourself up and before you know it people might think more highly of you.

Now, make sure you tell everyone how awesome of an article this is so they come and read it… right?