Markus Gull

Story - the light at the end of the orientation crisis.

Do you also know how incredibly hungry intensive intellectual work makes you? I experience this especially when writing screenplays. This is one of the most complex tasks in the world of a writer, because the demands on content, structure and time limit become so intense that after a short time I'm humming like a transformer station and have to regularly recharge my battery with a few gallons of coffee and a few scoops of nuts & fruit. Trail mix is called that for exactly that reason, I think.


In the blogcast, I read this recent blog article to you. With emphasis, of course!

Writing is like life: One would like to think it is complicated, but in reality it is complex. Our everyday life is papered with contradictions, our path through life signposted with dilemmas. That's why "Der ganz normale Wahnsinn" seems to me to be one of the most apt headings about our current chapter in contemporary history.

The pressure of simultaneity is fuelled by the Fear of missing out (FOMO) and gives way to the Joy of missing out (JOMO) - always on and Digital Detox, we have never had it so good, but everything is going in the wrong direction. Consumerism followed by ceremonial Magic Cleaning, more and more people are becoming extremely concerned about the state of our environment, while at the same timeCO2 emissions are rising faster than glaciers can melt, while each of us cackles up the noise level, blithely sparks along in the light smog, seeks peace and gives none. Studies inoculate us with crystal-clear facts and counter-studies with matching counter-facts. Is this news or fakenews or just noise? - And then there are these foreigners! There must be at least 240 million refugees in Germany alone, after all, everyone has already seen three ...

Who knows? 

The Internet and the WorldWideWeb have breathtaking potential for democratisation and equal opportunities. What concerns us most, however, are the largest monopolies of all time that have emerged as we have moved into the Global Village - the largest village in the world, the only one without an elected government. It is perfidiously fitting that the largest media in the world, Facebook, does not employ a single journalist.

Anyone who deals with media and marketing suspects anyway that the only organising force there is chaos.

Who else knows about it? No one, I would say.

Where is Bruce Willis when you need him, and who will take us home safely? Where could that be? Where home is? Where friendship counts? Where happiness begins? - No, there is only Hansi Hinterseer ...

Reflexively and hopefully, we naïve people think of the official leaders of our society(ies), the politicians, when we hear "Who knows?" and realise at the same moment that there is not much to hope for. Hope dies last, but what if it has already happened and we just weren't invited to the funeral? In any case, the chosen solution bringers worldwide have rather made themselves at home on the problem side and at best perform as Helene Fischer, while we need Bob Dylan. The eye eats with us, the soul remains undernourished.

Meanwhile, the climate is tilting away, digitalisation is rippling through our lives like nothing before, and for many people who are writing the history of their future, the question mark key on the keyboard is not only worn out, it's already stuck.

Yes, more and more people on earth are getting better (or less bad).
Yes, everything is going in the wrong direction.
Yes, no one knows their way around.

But we would love to know our way around!
We want to know why!
We want to know where!

What are we really missing?

What we lack so much in our time is an overview and orientation. For ourselves and our lives, for the world, for simply everything - orientation is intrinsically vital for us humans and yet is becoming increasingly difficult to find.

Is it any wonder that the "self-help & personal development" section in bookshops is growing and growing? Is it not logical that the corresponding shelves in the magazine section are bending and in the social media the offers around "Find your destiny!" are exploding, accompanied by motivational quote postings that have one thing in common at different levels of quality: the search for orientation?

Do you also see the motivational speaker platforms and events springing up, attracting thousands and thousands of people like moths to a flame? Inspiration Nights, Tobias Beck, Gedankentanken , Tony Robbins, MindValley, Christian Bischoff. .. An industry has emerged in a short time. Their sales force is the complex world, their core product is called orientation, demand is increasing by the second.

Evolution has programmed a powerful application into our operating system: the ability to tell stories. Stories give us orientation.

With a motivating story, we can lead companies and trigger revolutions.With an inspiring story, we develop brands and ourselves. With a values-driven story, we explain the world to ourselves and ours to others.

Storytelling as world explanation.

Stories create order and an overview, and that is what we humans need in this world that is becoming more complex every day.

An international study has just been published on this, in which data from 10,000 years in 414 societies from 30 regions were analysed with the question: Why did people start believing in gods? Short answer: to hold complex societies together.

Authoritarian deities only appear from a society size of more than one million people and the associated social complexity, regardless of whether they are Roman deities, the God in Christianity or Islam, or karma in Buddhism. Supernatural powers reward and punish people's behaviour on earth, for which there are simple commands and prohibitions - packaged in stories. So: orientation.

If you look at the Christian Bible, for example, you have a work full of stories, metaphors and parables in your hand, as an organising guide for all situations in life. Jesus of Nazareth - rebel and motivational speaker - full house, full cash box, eternal life (after death ...). Everything clear?

Complexity of situations triggers in us a strong desire for simplicity. This is how our brains are wired, because dealing with complexity simply consumes an insane amount of energy and our bodies are wired to minimise consumption.

Storytelling as an orientation aid.

The connection between complexity and the biologically, emotionally and psychologically driven desire for overview, order, orientation and thus simplicity make Story so effective. And so dangerous.

Because authorities who promise orientation with their stories come in different guises: Jesus of Nazareth and Alphabet's Google, Trump and Trudeau, AfD, FdH, Coca-Cola, Cocaine, nationals rum and foreigners out ... Gods and what we think of as such can have many faces and some wear a mask.
Here you will find some more thoughts on this.

Stories stand like lighthouses in the turbulent ocean of our existence. They give structure to the world because they tell of origin, religion, ethnicity, values, goals, virtues, likes and dislikes, they define what is good and what is evil, explain commandments and prohibitions, share experience and knowledge, spread belief and superstition, stir up hatred and hope, pose questions and traps - give orientation.

Because in our time we often define ourselves by what we buy, what we eat, how we dress, what we post, how we get around or where we go on holiday - in short: what we spend our money on, how we earn it and how we spend our time - the lighthouses of our existence are often labelled with brand names.

This is what makes brand stories so effective; their impact can radiate far beyond pure marketing. One way or another. Because we buy what we want to be and we want to be part of something big. This principle works practically every time.

Storysharing instead of storytelling - even at the discount store.

You can try this out on yourself with a simple test: Go to the discount store - for once - without a shopping bag, pick up a couple of groceries and then take a shopping bag for them at the checkout. Do you take the one with the logo of the discount store or the one with the logo of the organic brand of the discount store? Ecco! - We buy what we want to be, and we want to be part of something big. In any case, we want to carry it home in the right shopping bag and show it to everyone else ... We share our world of values by showing it with our shopping bag. That's how simple storytelling becomes storysharing, and that's what it's all about.

In the USA, it has been found that no matter what location is recommended to buyers of solar home systems for installation, they have the panels mounted facing the street.

A recently published international survey shows that the majority of customers decide for or against a brand based on its standpoint on societal issues, the majority of people trust companies with far more problem-solving competence in matters of societal advancement than governments, and corporate CEOs more than government CEOs. And the number one decision motive for a potential employer is the company's brand story.

This is the unsurpassable opportunity for brands, companies and organisations, even more: this is a noble mission of society!


By the way: Did I mention that there is a little instigator book for big dreams and even bigger deeds? It's called: "Then do something. - Your dream. Your company. Your story.
You can get it here.

"Then do something" is about the huge demand for entrepreneurial people who recognise problems, tackle them and, in the best case, even turn them into a successful business with a magnetic story. This is the best opportunity and great news for story insiders, isn't it?

The principle is simple, but the implementation is not. Because stories are like life: not complicated, but complex.

Regardless of whether it is a global corporation, an SME or heroic lone fighter as an EPU - every person, every brand, every company has and needs at least one archaic value and the story activated by it, around which the beacon of orientation revolves. It radiates first inwards, then outwards.

If you don't have a magnetic value as a living theme, two experiences await you in the long run: swimming along in the fog of arbitrariness and orientation through price. Both are just other terms for downfall at a still uncertain point in time.

So to all those who say, "It doesn't apply to me and my brand!", I would like to recommend those words that my grandmother, old Story Dudette, carved into the foundation of the Pharos of Alexandria with her all-too-sharp thumbnail: "No Story. No Glory."

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