When people ask me, “What is a red thread?” I usually answer this way: a red thread is a story you tell yourself about why things happen the way they do. We tell ourselves these kinds of stories all the time, both consciously and not: “This happened because that happened.” “This is true because that is true.”
We believe these stories. I mean, why wouldn’t we? They just make so much sense, right? And of course they do: our brains wouldn’t allow us to think or do something long-term that didn’t make sense to us, that didn’t align with what we believe to be true about both ourselves and the world.
That makes those stories, and the hold they have on us, incredibly strong.
So strong, in fact, that these stories—these red threads—drive both your understanding of the world, and your actions within it.
The challenge comes in when you want someone, even yourself, to take different actions. To do that, they need a different story to tell themselves.
They need a story that’s better than the one they have now. What’s more, they need a story that’s just as believable to them.
That last part gets tricky, especially when you’re trying to convince someone else to act or change. It gets tricky because we try to convince our audiences with what’s important and believable to us rather than what’s important and believable to them.
And yet we’re already convinced the change we’re looking for is right (again, why else would be trying?).
They, however, are not.
That’s where the idea for my Red Thread® approach started: What if we crafted the audience’s story, instead of ours? What if we argued for our ideas from the point of view of someone not already sure that the idea was the right one?
Wouldn’t building their case for change make it more likely that people would actually make that change? Based on my experience with the Red Thread over the last five years, yes, yes it would.
My book is obviously a big ol’ lesson in how to build that story, but sometimes you want to get to a “starting” Red Thread faster. The Conversational Case worksheet is one way—it’s a fill-in-the-blank framework that uses your brain’s built-in story processes to get you started.
But there’s one even faster way: ask your audience. Ask them:
“What story would you need to tell yourself before you’d believe in or act on this idea?”
Full credit for this one to my friend, author and founder of the Self-Employed Business Institute, Jeffrey Shaw. When we recently recorded an episode of his podcast, he shared how my book had inspired him to ask a prospective client that question.
Will the person do all your work for you and deliver a beautifully crafted Red Thread? Well, no, they won’t. But they will likely tell you some of what they need to hear, especially when it comes to what they’ll need to believe.What if we crafted the audience's story, instead of ours? Click To Tweet
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