Narrative connections



A few months ago, my family and I visited my mother in my hometown. One day, after running some errands, I returned to the house and plopped down on the couch next to my son. And, without hesitation, he launched into a long-winded monologue about a new game he had on his iPad. After a few minutes of listening to every painstaking detail about the game, I told him to put down the device and jump in my truck. He eagerly put the iPad down and seemed energized to spend some time with dear old Dad.

I drove that kid all over town. I shared countless stories (at least the G-rated ones) and painted vivid pictures of what it was like back then. I took him to my high school and pointed out some of his father’s and uncle’s accomplishments. I showed him trees I climbed and places I built forts. I took him by the ravine where I used to hunt for golf balls. I even showed him where I had my first kiss.

It was a fun trip down memory lane. We ended up down at the lake skipping rocks across the water. Finally, my son turned to me and said, “Dad, what stories am I going to tell?” I replied, “Well, it won’t be about achieving Level 3 on that stupid iPad game, that’s for sure.”

I told him he was smart enough to realize that he not only deserved his own unique stories, but that they are required for living a fulfilled life. In turn, I asked him to start observing the world through his vision and activity, rather than some YouTube poser.

My son doesn’t have the same landscape to operate within that I did. The world has been dramatically altered by technology and self-interest. In fact, we rarely see kids running around a neighborhood anymore or using their imagination as a tool for fun.

I remember running with three imaginary friends and playing sports in John Ward’s front yard until the streetlights came on. I remember riding my bike for miles just to get some Bazooka bubble gum at the corner store. To be honest, I could talk for days about the memories I have from that idyllic world.

The best thing about those stories is that they are mine. Nobody can tweet them or Google them to question their validity. For example, that fish I caught really was as big as I say and there is no documentation to say otherwise.

Observation is the process of removing blinders and experiencing the world around us with curiosity. The current environment in which we live doesn’t seem to afford us that chance, but that’s not true. What matters is that the curiosity exists in our hearts and minds.

Let’s face it: We’re busy people, or at least we think we are. As we move through the day, we tend to tune things out that don’t mean anything to us in the moment. We grab a cup of coffee and don’t notice any of the people in the store or what shops are nearby. We have our heads buried in our devices and rarely notice the beauty around us.

The publishing process is a wonderful way to observe. In fact, you can’t publish anything without observing it first. So, start taking the time to see, feel, taste and hear the world. Use those observations to create your own unique stories and begin to act more like a media company than just a brand.

Observation can cure the blindness. Great creativity comes from connecting the dots between what we see and what we do. So, look up and observe.

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Mark Potter

Founder / Consultant

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