The Power of Permission

Imagine if one of your friend came to you and said that he had a story and it goes something like this:

Jake, a paraplegic war veteran takes up an interesting assignment in a distant planet called Pandora. The planet is inhabited by a humanoid race called Na’vi which have their own culture and language. The members of the race do things very differently from humans. They don’t have planes there but they ride on big birds. Jake infiltrates the race and discovers that he is setup on a mission that will hurt the members of this race because of the greed of a human being called Parker Selfridge….

The story goes on but by this time you would have been fed up and walked away dismissing that this will go nowhere.

Those of you who have seen Avatar, would have identified the plot line by now. However, improbable it might seem, the story was gripping and when you were watching the movie, most of you would have set aside all the logic and reasoning and enjoyed the movie in full. Avatar grossed more than a billion dollars and still going strong.

I LOVED the movie and the storytelling by James Cameron.

Being a student of Robert McKee, I understand how this works ( OK, Not completely as I still have a long way to go. ) The keyword is “permission.” Let me explain. Before anything, you give “permission” to the storyteller to take you to the new world, in this case “Pandora” and learn about the tribe there. You learn about their lifestyle and sort of “believe” that such a place could exist and while you are getting familiar with the place, a “conflict” ( core problem or issue ) is introduced and the hero (in this case Jake ) is set on a mission – to fight for the cause of the tribe against the greedy establishment. By this time, you have resigned to the fact that “Pandora” is a possibility and you focus your attention on Jake and how he will resolve that conflict. You are now officially “in” the movie.

More examples?

How about Jurassic Park or Star Trek or Harry Potter movies?

Now, what has this got to the business world?

Almost everything.

As professionals, we are telling stories and enrolling people into “our” world. “Our” world may be alien to some of our prospects and customers and partners. But they need to give us the “permission” to take them to “our” world before they follow along our story. Without that, we have lost the battle even before we begin.

The question is:
What are you doing to “earn” that permission so that you can tell your stories?