WDS Talk - Saving Your Creative Soul by Scott Berkun

There were a number of great talks at WDS this year, and one of my favourites was given by Scott Berkun (@berkun and author of many books including Confessions of a Public Speaker).   It resonated with me because he spoke so clearly about the damning effects of our narrative bias.  

Scott argues that when work is challenging or we don't achieve success, we're caught off guard.  He says that we have a narrative bias - on some level, we expect our lives to follow the narrative structure of books and movies.  When we are denied our storybook ending we don't shrug our shoulders with a 'c'est la vie', we are confused.  We assume we've missed something, forgotten the secret sauce, or require intervention from all-knowing business gurus (or their books, webinars, and courses) to get us back on the path to Happily Ever After.

I've searched high and low for the secret sauce.  Our shelves groans under the weight of books by gurus peddling secrets, truths, and guarantees.  Reading just one more article, book, or blog to give me The Key before I get back to work would appear to be my favourite hobby.

It was so refreshing to hear someone call out this behaviour for what it is - a type of procrastination egged on by my narrative bias.  I search for secret sauce in part because our narratives rarely include chapters on drudgery and Michael Bay movies never end with the heroine sobbing under her duvet because it is all too much.  When work is hard or dull or turns out badly, I assume I'm off course and I've missed a crucial step.  I rarely think hard and dull are the norm.  I assume there's a workshop I should have taken, an expert I should have consulted or an app I should have bought.   I don't tell myself, 'You're smart enough and you are trying your best.  Sometimes life it like this.'  But that is the only good response when Narrative Bias whispers in my ear, 'If you had the secret sauce, everything would be coming up roses.' 

The sooner we start sharing our real experiences and our actual challenges - and not just the Pinterest-FB-Instagram aspirational version of ourselves and our work - the sooner we'll start to create a counterbalance to the narrative bias.  

My sketchnotes of Scott's talk are below.

Oh, and before you say to yourself, 'Look at her notes . . . I could never make notes like that!', know that you probably could but that you'd have to work at it.  

I know this because I worked at them and these ones took effort and White Out and three re-boots of my computer because Pixelmator keep crashing.  If you want to know more about how I create sketchnotes, check out the companion post to this one where I share how I made these notes (and try in my own way to tip the balance a little more towards reality and a little bit further away from the usual narrative). 

Julie StittComment