After climbing 659 steps to the top of a giant granite monolith covered in happy succulents, and gazing out at the vast network of man-made lakes filling the valleys below; my parents and Bruce and I are now spending a lovely afternoon milling about the cute holiday town of Guatapé, Colombia, a three hour drive east of Medellín.
Nearly every shop we pass boasts a huge panel of kitschy magnets and tourist knick knacks; many depicting a cartoonish, mustachioed paisa in various situations, atop a chubby horse or carrying fresh flowers to market on his back.
But passing by one shop, something catches my eye.
It's a small, simple, handmade wooden magnet that reads:
"Si todo te da igual, estás haciendo mal las cuentas."
Now, one thing I've learned this year is that, in Spanish...
The word cuentas can be interpreted to mean either "stories" ... or "bills/accounts."
Thus, after one or two attempts, I stopped telling people who asked about my work that I help people hacer (do/make) better cuentas (stories) for negocios (business)...
Because they would interpret this to mean that I am a financial accountant.
So when I see this magnet, I have to stop and ask the sales girl what it meant.
In Spanish, I ask her: "Does this say that if everything's the same to you, then you're doing your accounting wrong?"
"... Or that, if it's all the same to you... then you're telling bad stories?"
As she listens, her face lights up.
"Si!" She exclaims. "Tienes razón -- hay un doble sentido."
(Yes, you're right -- it has a double meaning.)
And do you know what I could tell by her reaction?
... That she had never before considered this other, secondary meaning.
Even though the word itself can literally mean the same thing!
Which begs the question...
Of how often we think to look for a connection, between the stories we tell -- and the tangible, material returns the world presents to us.
On the one hand, you could argue that stories exist purely in the realm of ideas.
But I would say it differently:
(As anyone who's lived in the Bay Area can attest...)
ANYONE can have a great idea that exists purely in the realm of ideas.
But before your idea can have a tangibleimpact on your accounts, financial and otherwise?
You have to be able to show at least ONE other person the value of what's in your head.
(Not everyone -- but at least one!)
And, at least until the day that Vulcan mind-meld technology becomes a standard G-Suite offering, allowing us to slap some wireless electrodes to our temples and instantly transmit everything we're thinking into someone else's brain...
... Story is the most effective way we have of doing that.
Story is the bridge we build between ideas and reality.
Which is to say, the bridge between how you THINK and TALK about the world...
And how the world RESPONDS to you.
How has the world been responding to YOU lately?
If you feel like it's been treating you pretty much the same as it always has...
Or more or less the same as everyone else...
... Might it be time to start telling better stories?
PS. I later learned that this is a translation of the Albert Einstein quote: If it's all the same to you,