Stories, not atoms

Muriel Rukeyser said “the world is made up of stories, not atoms”. Sometimes, you hear something and it is such a truism that you don’t understand why it isn’t on billboards 20 foot high by the side of motorways. The world is full of stories, not atoms. Understand how agitated atoms react and you have a microwave. Put some fungi with the right substrate and you get penicillin. Understand how electricity can be consistently fed through a filament and you have light. But it’s the stories that make the world. The microwave came about as a by-product of research into radar; penicillin was a contaminated petri dish and as for the light bulb, Thomas Edison became the man who knew ‘9,000 ways a light bulb will not work’ before he found the answer. The stories, I think, add to the understanding of what we do and the value that we bring. They put a humanity into our work and what we produce. Our stories give us substance, add to our credibility and create trust. Credibility and Trust. Next time you sit in front of a client and deliver the answer; s110 reconstruction relief, enterprise value, revenue recognition, think about whether the recipient is understanding the theory or listening to your credibility through the story of your expertise.

John

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