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How to craft a compelling narrative (in business and life)

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Do you ever space out in conversations?

If you do, it’s probably because the person you’re speaking with drifted into either a long monologue or got lost in the irrelevant weeds of their story.

It happens to me a lot, both as a listener and as a speaker.

It’s something I’m learning to get better at.

Good training is listening in on customer interview for my clients.

Those for me are 5% asking questions and the remaining 95% listening and seeing where the conversation goes. And man… when they get lost in the details it’s hard to refrain from interrupting.

It’s like meditation in a way. You’re training your listener’s muscle not to react. Not to space out and keep the focus and attention on the other person.

Try and do this quick test in your next conversation:

Anytime you feel like you want to state your opinion – simply hold back. See what happens.

For me that always creates some helpful space in my thoughts and keeps me mindful.

But what if you’re the one doing the talking?

Whether it’s a presentation, or a speech, or even just a call with clients or customers, you have to be the conductor without having them drift into oblivion in their minds.

A good visualization and planning process comes from Ray Dalio’s idea of “above and below the line conversation”:

“An above-the-line conversation addresses the main points and a below-the-line conversation focuses on the sub-points. When a line of reasoning is jumbled and confusing, it’s often because the speaker has gotten caught up in below-the-line details without connecting them back to the major points.”

You can apply this idea to any type of writing too, not only in conversations.

When you start, think about both the main and sub-points you want to make with your story. And then look back at it.

Did you randomly venture into too many sub plots?

Did you get back to the main points? And did you end up reconnecting all of it?

I also think this applies with your life, too.

Think of it as your storyline.

Are you drifting into too many irrelevant sub points?

What’s your narrative? What is the point, the statement you want to make with the work you do, with the relationships you build, and with the goals you want to achieve?

Do you even have a point or are you directionless?

I’d encourage you to plot your life out using an above/below the line thinking.

You might get really interesting insights.

Pro-tip: Want to learn how to get better at creating a compelling and focused narrative? Start writing on Twitter. You get data and the character limit is perfect for forcing you to be clear and concise. I regularly write and experiment with weird thoughts on there, let’s be friends.

Quote and reflection of the day:

“This, then, is the human problem: there is a price to be paid for every increase in consciousness. We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain.”

  • Alan W Watts, Wisdom of Insecurity

Pain is as part of growth as it is pleasure. It’s often a more reliable indicator that you’re doing things right. Learn to see pain as your compass.

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Going back to getting lost in the weeds… If you’re trying to make it work online with your business or side hustle, you know how hard it is to get side-tracked with shiny objects syndrome. A good resource I’ve found lately cut through the noise, is the Minimalist Hustler newsletter. Join 1600+ online hustlers in receiving a daily email with 3 quick & valuable resources that will help you make more money online.

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