Change The Narrative

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Over the weekend it was the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA. These attacks precipitated the War on Terror and the Western led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. However you care to look at these wars the foreign policy outcomes achieved as a result are monumental failures. So what can we learn from this? From an NLP perspective you can argue that the initial objectives were not well defined. War on Terror is simply too nebulous an idea to be an achievable outcome. The Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan did not sufficiently consider what happens after the fighting stops. The nation building efforts made by the West were totally inadequate. Nor were these observations difficult to make at the outset either. Simply put the political leadership in the West has been woeful. So what happens next? My guess is that there will be some handwringing, some “lessons will be learned” type statements and then the political system will attempt to just stumble on, brushing as much of its failings under the carpet as possible.

For me this isn’t good enough. Let us add to the charge sheet of leadership failings the 2007/08 Financial Crisis, and the lack of effective action in the face of an ever-changing climate. In case you haven’t noticed it yet, we are being led down a dangerous path by people who don’t know, or don’t care what they are doing. Of course, one can argue that these are genuine people doing the best they can in very challenging situations. Which to a degree I can accept. But for me I think it is time for us to pause and stand back a little to see what is really going on here. As Albert Einstein said, “You cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” We won’t solve our problems with pithy quotes either, but the point is that we can only move forward effectively if we change our ideas about who we are, what our purpose is, and how the world works. We need to change the narrative. 

The Western ideas that emerged through the industrial revolution based around nation states, economic growth, competition, materialism, and a market economy have been spectacularly successful in dragging most of us out of the squaller of the Middle Ages. And not all of this needs to be discarded in some reactionary temper tantrum either. But the overall narrative does now need to be changed. So too does the political system that continually oscillates, ineffectively between Left and Right. We need to recognise that the individual and the group are important. That a form of blended capitalism and socialism can work better than either by itself. We urgently need to find a new energy source. And we need to reconnect with nature. We are not the CEOs of planet earth; we are its stewards. We are not conscious meat bags, blindly evolving our selfish genes. Nor are we humans with an immaterial soul. We are souls having a human experience. If we reconnect with this narrative, we can them find the power to change our outcomes, individually and collectively. 

NLP is a results focused discipline, set within an ecological framework. Whenever you are engaged in any activity you need to ensure that you have considered the impact of change on you, anyone else directly involved, your family and friends, and on broader society. From this standpoint you then work towards getting the results that you want. As you do you are flexible as you take in and integrate more information whilst the process unfolds. You are prepared to adapt your methods and even your goals if needs be. And at the end of the day, you assess the results that you achieve, you learn about yourself, and the world around you and you move on. 

As events unfold in your life you need to integrate them into who you are, by doing so you become an expanded version of yourself. To quote Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, “Happiness is achieved by integrating the experiences, aspects, and contradictions of an immature personality into a greater whole.” Collectively we need to do the same. We need to integrate rather than ignore the events happening around us. As we do, we will discover that we need to change our collective narrative about being human. If we do a wealth of extraordinary experiences await us. If we don’t, then we will be watching even more horrors unfold on our TV screens in the years ahead.

“A man occasionally stumbles over the truth, but usually manages to pick himself up, walk over or around it, and carry on.” Winston Churchill 

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