An election year looms. As I observe the political posturing I find myself drawn to one of my favorite quotes from Grover: “Reveal yourself or others will reveal you.” I am a collector of sorts and have compiled a mental folder of Real World Tests or RWTs if you prefer. When I catch myself repeating certain behaviors and observe others doing the same, I catalogue these accordingly because they are real.
On my way to work this morning, I stopped by King Soopers to grab some milk for the office. The gentleman at the checkout greeted me then efficiently conducted the transaction. During this brief encounter I realized that I had subconsciously built a story in my mind of who he was. Grasping at the limited information that I possessed, I simply filled in the rest of the details. I do the same every single time I meet or see someone. I compile whatever information I have gathered, then fill in all of the gaps to create context and meaning. But what are the chances that I fill in the gaps accurately? Most likely, slim to nil, unless the person I meet helps me out.
The most simple way to reveal yourself is by sharing moments, or as I like to think of them, mini-stories, to help others build a more accurate picture. For instance, after considering my audience, perhaps I share that I have ridden the Colorado MS 150 bike ride from Denver to Ft. Collins on several occasions. It's only a few words, but think of all of the information the listener has to pull from: it's a fundraising event for multiple sclerosis which engenders an element of empathy and compassion. It is probable I know someone with MS. Because of the distance, most likely I am reasonably fit, like to ride bikes, and enjoy outdoor activities. I've been to both Denver and Ft. Collins. Participating in the ride for many years shows consistency and commitment to a cause. These events are rarely ridden solo, so I was probably part of a group involving some amount of teamwork.
All of this information has been gleaned from a sentence that took less than 5 seconds to deliver, but enables my audience to subconsciously build a far more accurate picture of the person I am. These snippets of information, these mini-stories connect us, persuade us, and are memorable. Each of us create stories about each other all of the time. If you wait to reveal yourself you run the risk of having your narrative highjacked and then it is usually too late. As the political season moves into full swing it's the perfect time to watch and see who controls their narrative and whose narrative is controlled by others.