The Narrative: A New Dimension

Narratives shape our perceptions, which in turn form our realities and end up influencing our choices and actions – Klaus Schwab & Thierry Malleret.

The Power of Narratives

You and I have something in common. We both want to live a life that is worth telling others about. When we die, we just don’t want our eulogies to reflect our resumes but also our impact on other people’s lives. No one sets out to live a mediocre or substandard life, yet with every negative narrative we allow to rule our lives, the likelihood of arriving there increases. This month we have looked at the power of narratives and their ability to challenge and change the negative narratives running inside our minds and keep us from living our best lives. Our brain is the center where narratives, whether true or false, are formed and stored. Robert Shiller makes this linking observation between our narratives and decisions, “the human brain has always been highly tuned towards narratives, whether factual or not, to justify ongoing actions.” 

Narratives and Decisions

The link between narratives and decisions is not easy to break and often keeps us in vicious cycles of actions that sabotage our goals and can override our talent. Such is the case of Ja Morant. Hailed as the leader of the next generation of NBA superstars and seemingly taking the torch from Lebron James and Steph Curry, Ja is talented, and his ceiling of achievement seems non-existent at the moment. His athletic prowess and electrifying play have his team, the Memphis Grizzlies, and the town of Memphis believing that 2023 is a Championship winning year. But Morant’s talents and exploits on the court are overshadowed by a narrative that keeps cropping up off the court. His most recent action of holding a gun outside a club and then going live on Instagram led to an eight-game suspension by the NBA. In his first interview since the incident and consequent suspension, Morant took responsibility for his actions but also spoke about the importance of overcoming the narrative that is now attached to his name and brand. Here is an excerpt from his interview:

“It’s not who I am. I don’t condone any type of violence, but I take full responsibility for my actions. I’ve made a bad mistake. I can see the image that I’ve painted over myself with my recent mistakes. In the future, I’m gonna show everybody who Ja really is, what I’m about, and change this narrative.” 

The Path to a New Dimension

Once we identify a narrative holding us captive, we have the choice to interrogate that narrative’s existence and sever its ties to our future by injecting a new dimension of thought. Morant identified a narrative arising from his coping mechanism of the pressures of being the face of a franchise and league, which cause stress and anxiety. A new dimension of living, free from narratives that hinder us from being our best, begins with disruptive thinking. Lisa Bodell, CEO of futurethink was right on the money with this explanation of disruptive thinking:

“So what do disruptive questions look and sound like? They usually begin with “how,” “which,” “why, or “if” and are specific without limiting imagination. They focus on generative solutions rather than begging for long-winded explanations and place blame, as often-asked ‘close-ended’ questions always do. They awaken the mind rather than put it to sleep.”

Disruptive thinking signals the death of goal-killing narratives and the awakening of narratives that catapult us into the future we are destined to live. For Morant, this disrupted thinking has led to a turning point to use his platform as a positive influence. He did not make excuses or place blame but took ownership. Without this piece, a new dimension remains a distant wish rather than a realistic hope. Disruptive thinking leads to a divergent view from the norm with the intention of initiating positive change. It means being comfortable with being uncomfortable, embracing the growing pains that come with creating change, and keeping what’s on the other side of your field of vision.

Awareness, coupled with taking ownership, charts the course toward a new dimension of living.

Final thought: Ja Morant’s story is not over. By taking ownership and seeking the help he needs, he can change the narrative and be the positive influence he has the potential to become for all who look up to him. Your story is not over, either. Narratives are not set in stone. They don’t need to be the sentence to live a life beneath your potential. Narratives can be changed, new dimensions of thought discovered, and better standards of living achieved. 

Keep on keeping on!


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