S3T Playbook: Flipping the Script: Understanding and Changing Internal & Macro Narratives

S3T Playbook: Flipping the Script: Understanding and Changing Internal & Macro Narratives
Photo by Mathieu Stern / Unsplash

Scripts - default thinking and reactions - have a heavy influence on our daily decisions at both personal and macro levels. A few minutes learning how to understand and change narratives can save months of churn and friction.

Our minds are adept at creating "scripts" - internal narratives and automatic responses that dictate what we think, say, or do in specific conversations, decision points, or opportunities. These scripts often form our immediate reactions and impulses in conversations and decisions.

We curate these scripts - both at individual and industry levels. You personally have a set of scripts that guide your snap judgments and reactions. Your industry also has scripts that guide conventional wisdom and status quo thinking in that industry.

When we follow these scripts without question we put ourselves, our companies and our communities at risk of negative outcomes.

We want to learn how to be aware of our internal scripts and update/replace them as needed.

This learning segment will help you build the skills to:

  • Identify your common, go-to scripts
  • Evaluate whether these scripts lead you to the behaviors and outcomes you want
  • Notice where new scripts might be needed, and create them.

Let's get started!

Identifying Your Scripts

There is a world of good in starting to understand what your scripts are – even though it may take time. The roadmap:

  • Start noticing what your common go-to scripts are
  • Start evaluating whether they take you to the behaviors and outcomes you want
  • Start creating new scripts.

Some examples of negative but quite common scripts or internal narratives that people carry with them:

  • When I get feedback it just proves to me that I'm really not up for this job.
  • When others get praise or attention, it just reminds me that I'm not really part of the team.
  • I dread status or review meetings, because I know they'll just reveal my shortcomings."

Notice that in each case there is an underlying pattern of interpreting the situation as a threat vs an opportunity.

Tip: To uncover one your scripts, ask yourself questions in this format:

  • When I see/hear/experience _____ then I automatically think/feel/say/do _______.
  • Whenever _____ happens, I always assume it must be because ______.

Evaluating your Scripts

When you have identified your scripts you can use the following questions to evaluate them:

  • How does this thought / script manifest in my thinking, speaking and actions?
  • How is it true or not true? How bad would it be if I just decided to assume the opposite about the situation?
  • What is the benefit of thinking this, and acting on it? What kinds of outcomes occur when I think/speak/act in in accordance with this script?
  • How could I edit this script to make it more accurate or helpful?
  • If I have a new script, or newly updated / refined script, how can I put it into practice, or practice it more consistently?

By dissecting these questions, you can begin to understand how deeply internalized scripts affect our interactions and decision-making processes.

Understanding and updating these scripts is not just about self-improvement; it's about enhancing how we communicate and interact within groups and organizations, so we can get to better outcomes!

What about Industry Scripts?

Scripts exist not only on personal levels, but also exist at macro levels: orgs, industries, nations. Think about the conventional wisdom, commonly accepted rules of thumb, and mental models in your industry or in the economy.

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