Change the Story You Tell Yourself

I was waiting in line to get an airplane ticket. The man in front of me in line was talking to the ticket agent, and says "I'm flying to JFK Airport, first class please." The ticket agent says, that's great. Unfortunately, it's not that big a plane and there is no first class.

The man freaked out, saying he had claustrophobia, and acrophobia, arachnophobia, he had to be first class otherwise he'd never be able to get on this plane. He was throwing a total tantrum.

What usually happens in an industrialized setting like this is, the ticket agent would roll her eyes and think to herself, "Forget you." Instead, she turns and says, "Oh, no no no... I'm so sorry, the entire flight is first class." The man snapped into a momentary silence. We held our breath. His pursed lips and furrowed brow cracked into a smile and a chuckle. Everything was fine. And we all flew first class that day.

Nothing about the plane changed. What changed was the story of the plane. What changed is that the man felt like he was heard. In that moment, a story harnessed creativity, transformed the context, and built meaningful connection.


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