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The Story Depends On The Storyteller

A fable:  The Man and the Lion

A man and a Lion traveled together through the forest. They soon began to boast of their respective superiority to each other in strength and prowess. As they were disputing, they passed a statue carved in stone, which represented “a Lion strangled by a Man.” The traveler pointed to it and said: “See there! How strong we are, and how we prevail over even the king of beasts.” The Lion replied: “This statue was made by one of you men. If we Lions knew how to erect statues, you would see the Man placed under the paw of the Lion.”
-Aesop (from Aesop’s Fables)

Moral: The story often depends on the storyteller.

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Wise words, yes?

I certainly think so.  In fact, this is my favorite fable of them all.

As a kid, I read comic books mainly.  But I also read Aesop’s Fables and enjoyed them tremendously.  The lessons of wise old Aesop have stayed with me through my adult years.  But it is this particular story that has benefitted me the most.

Truth Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

I have learned (through this simple lesson) to consider the source of any knowledge or information I receive.  That is pretty standard stuff.  But what is unique about this lesson is the added level of perception it has taught me.

For instance, I have learned that there is no such thing as objective reporting.  Many times when I read the paper, I have seen one group referred to in ‘objective’ language, while another was described in far less flattering terms.  This is an example of what I’m talking about.

In the article, it talks about JP Morgan Chase & Co settling with the Justice Department over committing fraud.  On a national scale.  But the term fraud is never used once in the piece.  In fact, if you had just come down from Mars & didn’t know what happened, you would get the impression that Morgan simply ran afoul of some regulations.  Not that they had knowingly committed fraud.  Bear in mind though that this particular story was reported by The Wall Street Journal.  A business newspaper.

Now take a look at this article in the Business Insider.  Notice how the term greedy is used several times.  And it is used to refer to several parties, including the homebuyers that were eventually defrauded.  This article gets straight to the point, with no ambiguity whatsoever.

Notice a difference?

The one thing these publications have in common is that they are business publications.  Remember, the story depends on the storyteller.

What Does This Mean To You?

If you only have one takeaway from this post, I truly hope that it is the sage advice from wise old Aesop.  Like I said, it has made a difference for me in how I view everything.

Although the example is news-related, the strategy is not.  You can definitely profit from peering past the story (to determine the teller’s interest) in virtually any case.  If someone you know is talking about a conflict they were in, then you already know that you will get an edited version of those events – in their favor.

When listening to the radio or watching tv, listen to how advertisers paint a picture that reflects favorably on their product.  That’s not to say that a given product is no good.  It may very well be.  But the point is to observe how they tell the tale – from their point of view.

But what is most important is how do you interpret this lesson?  My gift to you is this fable.  Yes, I have told you what it means to me & showed you how to use the lesson.  But the question is how you can benefit from this lesson?  I know you will decide how to best apply this advice to your circumstances as you see fit.  And if you find any of these words useful, then this post did its job.

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