Decide on a story first

Seth has a great post today called “Which comes first (why stories matter).”

Essentially he says that if you don’t have a story, the work you do ends up being random. This random work causes “the story to be confused or bland or indifferent and it doesn’t spread.”

I couldn’t agree more. It’s basically the old adage of if you don’t know what you’re shooting for, you’ll never hit it.

This applies not only to us and how we do our work, but companies and how they are positioned. It is SO important to decide on a story, decide on what you stand for and then work in a way that portrays that story. Unarticulated priorities lead to confusion and ultimately mediocrity.

On the other hand, a clear message – or story – leads to ease in decision making.

Remember the story about Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines teaching the secret of running Southwest? He is quoted as saying, “We are THE low-fare airline. Once you understand that fact, you can make any decision about this company’s future as well as I can.” That’s dedication to the story the company wants to tell. It also makes things easier because it’s the measuring-stick you use to make any decision.

Does this match our story? No? Well, then we’re not doing it.

The problem is that so few people/companies take the time to really determine what they want their story to be and take the steps to make sure that everyone is dedicated to make that story a reality. They get so busy “doing” that they forget why they’re doing it. They just spend all day doing things to keep up that so many people never really think about why they’re doing it.

Or, their story is so vague and “all encompassing” that it’s ineffective as a measuring stick.

Find a story, a simple one (hat tip to Made to Stick) and make that the deciding factor in any decision for yourself or your business.

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Decide on a story first

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