Stories. We all love them. They give life to an otherwise mundane subject. A boring talk suddenly comes alive once the speaker begins to narrate a story. Stories have been one of the best tools to communicatelost sheep; the lost coin; the sower; the prodigal son. Yes, even our Lord Jesus had to rely on stories to communicate his message.
When we sit in the midst of an audience listening to a speaker we crave the stories embedded in the talk. The success stories of people who had applied the principles being taught and how we can learn from them. And the speakers know this. All books and classes on public speaking emphasize the need for stories. So, speakers never fail to deliver on them. But how many of us really desire the true story?
The true story is rarely told. The true story is not as enticing as the version we are told when we listen to the speakers. The true story. Yes, the true story usually has some elements of pain interwoven in it and many people don’t want to hear the true story. “Give me the baby.” They seem to say, “I don’t care about the labour pains.”
We are usually told that he dropped out of college and started his own company and a couple of years later he was very rich. We are not told that after he dropped out he remained on campus for the next eighteen months attending lectures he felt he needed. Not the ones the school said were required.
We are not told that because he dropped out of school he no longer had a dorm room so he slept on the floor in friends’ rooms. We are not told how he returned coke bottles for 50 cents deposits to buy food with and how he would walk 7 miles across town every Sunday night just to get a free good meal. No, we are not told the true story: the story behind the story.
They tell us how he dropped out after his sophomore year in Harvard to start his own software company and several years later he is the owner of a large corporation and also one of the richest men in the world. We are not told that as an eighth grader he was already doing real-time programming while his peers were still riding BMX bicycles. They never tell us how his parents always wondered why he found it hard to get up in the morning not knowing he was programming all night.
We are not told that by the time he was in his sophomore year in Harvard he had been programming practically non-stop for the past seven years. He had logged in over 10,000 hours of practice in programming. A record only attained by the best of the best. There was virtually nothing his professors could teach him anymore.
I believe the reason we are not told the true story is not because there is one big conspiracy theory not to let the cat out of the bag. I believe it is because most folks are looking for instant successes so the true story will not really go down well with them. They just love the headlines –Harvard Drop-out Becomes a Multi-Millionaire.
No one suddenly rises in the world, not even the sun. Output answers to input. The world was designed that way. It is true that they dropped out of school but school never dropped out of them. They worked hard, they grew, and they risked a lot. Then they worked hard some more, grew some more, and risked a lot more. As long as we are in the realm of time and space, seed time and harvest shall not cease. No seed, no harvest.
I believe in luck. I know a lot of people say they don’t but I do. Evidences abound that there is an element called luck. It just so happened that when the list was being called, they started from the bottom. Ask me why? I don’t know. It’s just luck. However, luck is not reliable. It is not reliable because it is not predictable. But history has taught us again and again that those who live by principles stand a far greater chance to arrive at their preconceived destinations.
When you don’t know the true story you cannot replicate the result because something will always be missing.
If you really want to make a difference, you’ve got to be interested in the boring details. You’ve got to discipline yourself to be interested in the those details that most people don’t want to hear about. So the next time that speaker climbs up stage and gives you the 30 seconds version of how he moved from A to Z, ask him what happened between B and Y. Ask him to tell you the true story.
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