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On 2 September 2020 illusionist and daredevil David Blaine achieved the impossible:

He grabbed a bunch of balloons, lifted himself off the ground and floated up to 25,000 feet (7,600 meters) in the sky!

The feat, livestreamed on Youtube and titled Ascension was a brilliantly designed, painstakingly constructed and impeccably executed combination of stunt and magic.

Here’s the thing:

Despite the compelling visual integrity of the stunt that clearly displayed a man holding onto a bunch of balloons and floating up in the sky, Blaine was in fact strapped onto an impressive blend of cutting edge technology and robust aviation mechanics.

Sneaked (and blended) into the colorful bunch of balloons was a yellow balloon-like sphere that encompassed cutting-edge air navigation and communication systems, oxygen supplies and everything else required for the mission to succeed. In case Blaine fell unconscious the apparatus could be controlled remotely to land safely. All of this technology was explained in fine detail from A to Z to the hundreds of thousands of viewers before and during the live stunt.

The question then is where was the magic part?

The magic lies in the compelling narrative or balloon related story that evokes a sense of childlike wonder!

Ask anyone to briefly describe what Blaine’s stunt was about and I bet you’ll get  a response along the following lines:

He basically grabbed a bunch of balloons and floated to 25,000 feet up in the sky!

The intricate set-up and the technical workings of the stunt are too convoluted to explain compared to the eloquently simple story.

Behold the magic of storytelling.

People are much more likely to weave or tell a simple story about what we do, what we stand for or who we are than consume themselves in the intricate details of our long-term plans, our well-meant but hidden intentions and the breadth of our knowledge.

Storytelling affects every aspect of our lives – personal and professional.

Stories can make or break us; lift us up in the direction of our dreams or tear us and bring us down in the gutter; stories can get people queue for hours to buy our products or send them on a crazy run away from us.

Stories affect our leadership, marketing and reputation alike.

For this reason, ask yourself:

What story do your customers tell about you after their first encounter or experience with you?

What story do people tell about you when they see your website, your banners, your logo, your marketing materials, your products, your social media posts?

Is it a story about excitement, wonder, positive influence, trustworthiness, originality and success or one about disappointment, regret, shame, imitation, untrustworthiness, waste and revulsion?

Similarly, what story do your employees tell about you as a boss or manager when they talk to their friends, family and friends?

Is it a story about positive leadership, inspiration and integrity or one about toxicity, egotism, corruption and favouritism?

If there is a better story to be told then consider what changes do you need to pursue to get people tell such a better story:

It could be a change in your business, your communication strategy, the quality of your services or products, the relationship with your employees and the community, the integrity of your promises and the trust with your customers.

For, success lies on the magical intersection between the stories people tell themselves about you and the integrity of your promise to them.

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