Your Most Important Survival Skill is Storytelling

Taylor Foreman
4 min readJul 1, 2020
Photo by @szvmanski

As we head into a more and more uncertain future, the one skill that transcends all others is the ability to tell a story.

A New Normal

Coronavirus is disrupting our lives incredibly. A lot of us are holding on to an idea, however unconsciously, that all of this will be over at some point, and we can go back to “normal.” As lots of people have said, that just isn’t the case. We are about to enter a new normal; one which we really can’t predict.

A silver lining to this massive disruption is that it is a precursor to what will be ongoing disruptions to our lives. 60% of our work will be gone to automation by 2025. The world changed rapidly over the last 100 years, and it is set to continue changing at an exponential rate. Unless you are very old, you will likely have to adjust and change careers more than once in your lifetime. I hope that our governments will take care of those of us that can’t keep up with the increasing need of creative and specialized work, but who really knows. Our best bet is to shield ourselves from this oncoming waves of change. We all need to become storytellers.

Stories Are Instructions for Change

It’s not that stories can change hearts and minds, it’s that they are the only thing that can change a human mind. The “operating system” we run is the stories that play in our heads. For most of us, they are given to us by our parents, from TV, and books we might have read. Anything against our particular story triggers rage, as a matter of fact. Why? Because our stories were hard-won. To risk them is to risk the lives that we’ve built.

That speaks to why it is so difficult to tell a good story. It’s not that we need to have a bigger vocabulary or understand structure or marketing better. It’s that we lack the ability to transcend our own stories to say anything new or inspired. In order to become storytellers we have to wake up from our programming. As illustrated in The Matrix, waking up isn’t pleasant. It’s going from a booming 90s New York City to a tiny pod filled with goo.

Taylor Foreman

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