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John, Great post. I love the point about narratives vs. stories and I see how it aligns with context and serendipity. Here's my take on what you've put forth (please correct me if I'm off): Narratives are not about a specific time and place. They live in a broad context. Stories live in a narrow context, a specific time and place. Part of what holds us back as people and as intitutions is that we too often apply broad context situations information to narrow context situations and expect specific results, when we cannot expect specific results. When a batter with a .333 average goes to the plate, we can't expect a hit every time, and that's why we watch. Yet, in many situations, we have a notion of the odds (or convince ourselves that we do) and then get attached to the results as if we were right or wrong. But it's not whether we were right or wrong that matters in that specific situation, it's the trajectory that matters, the narrative. Ghandi, and hinduism, paraphrase this concept as "renunciation of the fruits of action." If we let go of results in specific situations and focus on the narrative, the long path, we'll wind up in a better place. This will free us to focus on creating an overall better context through things like serenditpity and attraction that will bring us better results over time. We do see that to an extent in the hero's journey as well. Heroes don't think about the odds. They think about what's right. (I remember Han Solo saying "never tell me the odds!" in an asteroid scene).In a sense, the heros and explorers are free from results because the result is learning and an opportunity to do the right thing. So context can never be perfect, yet stories seem to make it black and white. Narratives, meanwhile, are about freedom from results in a specific context, but better results over time.
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May 23, 2011