Don't lose the nar­ra­tive
Jeff & Lindsay Sage / 11 May 2020

Image: Samuel Rodriguez

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Sourdough starter. Cute family photos. The last few strange seconds before you end a Zoom call. 

The world comes to us in narrative form, until it doesn’t. 

And when the world loses its narrative, routine questions get hard to answer. 

Are we overreacting or underreacting to the pandemic?
Are we winning or losing the battle?
Who’s the bad guy? The government? The virus? The social distance defying teenaged partiers?
Michigan militia? (Maybe.)  

It’s tough to say, because there is no narrative framework to latch on to.   

So we binge watch COVID-19 data dashboards hoping for insight. But data sans narrative is tough to understand, share and act on. No consensus can emerge.   

Yes. We. Can?  

Sure, losing the narrative globally is rare. But when it’s absent for a prolonged period of time, it gets tough to know what’s significant and what isn’t.   

And life feels surreal.   

On a much smaller, but equally important scale, the same is true for your business.   

We string the events around us into a storyline. We’re built to identify patterns and construct frameworks of meaning out of multiple inputs.   

If your restaurant is now a grocer going direct to neighbourhoods, the narrative matters.
If you want people to continue to trust you with their money post-downturn, narrative matters.
If your academy taught in a classroom for 300 years and this fall it’s all online, narrative matters.  

This is a unique moment to change the world. So cultivate a clear account of your story.

Of course, our health is still most important - keep washing those hands. 

But if you want to emerge from this pandemic with a movement that still matters, don’t lose the narrative.


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