“To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in a hour.”
We’re fascinated by the little things in life. I’ve always found it amazing that people can paint and draw on grains of rice and grains of sand.
And people love to look at nature and see patterns, a face in a cloud, or a cliff face, or tiny shell on a beach.
We’re always looking for meaning for the world around us and for our lives. So we hunt down patterns which become our stories.
The patterns and powerful stories of our lives come from a series of stand out moments, that we remember, and recall without thinking.
However, we have been challenged with our media rich world and have started to belittle our own stories, thinking those of others are far greater and far more important; whether it is fiction or fact.
But it is the little moments of our lives strung together than have us identify our purpose. It really is quite simple when we give ourselves the moment to stop and look, without judgement and without comparison.
Countless times clients and friends have said to me; “Oh I don’t really have much to say about myself. Nothing very exciting has happened to me.” And then on further investigation and given the time and space to talk, these people have revealed the most captivating and compelling stories about themselves.
They are surprised, and often also say: “I don’t talk about that because I didn’t think it was very important.”
There are macro events in our lives that form us, tragedies around death, danger, fear. But equally and more frequently, there are little micro moments where we are touched or moved by others or a happening. It might be the funny words used by a toddler learning to talk. It might be a simple expression of love, where a little gift is shared, or an exchange of words or touches.
To see and gather these little stories requires some stillness, and to observe people and our world around us. To grow our instinct and our intuition that our observations of the little things are what really matters.
The best stories get you thinking. And that’s usually because they are not simply black and white. They leave you with something to work out; a dilemma, a problem that gets you pondering.
Sadly a lot of stories in our news media, our film industry and our television world, don’t do audiences the honour of leaving something for people to work out.
Some new research shows from a visual point of view, dumbing things down destroys development. In fact it shows that visually difficult images can actually aid comprehension.
Albert Einstein said everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler; “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
Likewise, John F. Kennedy once said “we go to the moon not because it’s easy, but because it’s difficult.”
When I hear people trot out the aphorism, Keep It Simple Stupid, it annoys me. Often it is not honouring of the audience. Don’t get me wrong, I think we should always work hard to achieve clarity in all communication, but there is a difference between clarity, simplicity and dumbing down.
I think it is time to share stories that have complexity and depth, that stimulate reflection and actions. The greatest stories are about journeys between dark and light, failure and success. Characters in great stories are faced with choices and dilemmas, and sorting through complexity. Stories need a KICC more than they need a KISS.