Everyone loves a good legend.
When we hear a story that quickly and effectively invokes magical power in the world, we pay attention.
In an information economy, attention is the ultimate currency. When we get someone to pay attention to us, to what we are selling, we have the opportunity to win them over to us, to get them on our side.
An effective legend tells people quickly why what you have is important to them, compelling & satisfying, something they want to take on-board and hold inside.
We do that by striking resonances with what they already hold and believe, by extending and illustrating the legends they already hold dear. We become a part of what they know they value and want to stand with.
One person’s legend is another person’s bullshit. Not all stories will resonate with all people, so the legends have to be crafted to make sense to our target audience. Just because we find the story compelling doesn’t mean our audience will. For example, we may believe that success in sailboat racing reveals our magical ability to win, but others may just see the legends we spin about that as being full of irrelevant & bloated ego.
Legends always cut two ways, both liberating and constraining us. Choices must be made in creating a legend for they are embedded into the tale, so no legend can be everything to everyone. Legends lay out both what we are fighting for and what we are fighting against, the purpose for our struggle, the benefits of our victory. Trying to be mass and class at the same time, for example, tends to cancel our own efforts to create an impact out, rendering us impotent. The liberation that clear choices give us always also leads to the constraints that clear choices give us.
Our legend has to become our lifemyth for us to project it with conviction in the world. Unless our choices mirror and support our legend, the words we offer ring false, become empty and ineffective. No matter how much we might want people to believe what we say rather than the facts of what we do and have done, you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.
Powerful legends are each unique, though they always follow thematic conventions. To create a legend, we take pieces of what resonates with those we want to connect with and reassemble them, putting our own twist and flavour to the tale. Unless our story serves our audience, they will not take it on board, will not make it part of their own exposition, will not integrate it into their own worldview, will not use it to service and extend the legends that they already hold dear.
The range of themes for legends are extensive. Sometimes our power comes from our successes, from how we were able to get things done and move the world, and sometimes it comes from our abjection, how we share victimization with others.
Legends are the stories we tell to invoke magical power in the world. Our own legend invokes our own magical power, telling others why they should give attention to us, opening to the ways we embody something that resonates with their own understanding & belief.
I am thinking about all this because I have the need for a new legend, one that is more accessible and easy to digest while not taking away all my depth, intensity and brooding.
My actual origin myth, well, it’s not only quite complex & full of nuance, it’s also not particularly effective. People don’t respond to it quickly and even when people find some value in what I offer they find it hard to convey to others why they too should be interested and pay attention to me.
Everyone is, at some time or other in their life, a salesperson. We want other people to buy what we are selling, to give what we have to offer a chance. That takes a bit of marketing, effective presentation & packaging, a bit of spin and an effective story that can be polished into legend.
Becoming legendary is becoming the stuff of stories, tales that add up to a compelling image of who you are in the world.
Most people, yes, don’t think about their legend, don’t shape their stories to become compelling and effective in the tasks of getting attention, staying in the mind, and coming together to paint a picture. They don’t have a sense of themselves as a brand.
People who do need to be seen, though, who need to take power in the world to get things done or get their ideas into the conversation, though, have to care a lot about effective stories.
They have to care about their legends.