Business · Career · Misconceptions · Psychology

The narrative fallacy

I am currently reading ‘The everything store’ by Brad Stone. The book gives a first hand account of Amazon’s growth from an online book store to a store that sells everything. The book speaks about something called the ‘narrative fallacy’, which Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon) mentions when he is asked to explain Amazon’s success. He says- “When a business comes up with an idea, there is no ‘aha moment’. Reducing Amazon’s history to a simple narrative, he worried, could give the impression of clarity rather than the real thing.”

The narrative fallacy is a term coined by Nicholas Taleb in his 2007 book,’The Black Swan’ to describe how humans are biologically inclined to turn complex realities into soothing but over-simplified stories. Taleb argued that the limitations of the human brain resulted in our species’ tendency to squeeze unrelated facts and events into cause-and-effect equations and then convert them into easily understandable narratives.

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Stop making it sound like it was scripted

Sometimes, we try to weave complex events into simple stories, as if one event led to the other, eventually leading to the big result. We say the success story like it’s obvious. What we fail to mention, while narrating this story is the randomness and the luck that is involved in series of events that led to the big result. What we fail to mention is that we happened to be at the right place, at the right time. What we fail to mention is the kind acts and timing that worked in our favour. Because we are afraid that we won’t get all the credit we deserve. Infact, confessing all the things that worked in your favour makes the story sound more real, more authentic. Say it like it happened. Not like it should have happened.

Fate is often blamed for a bad result. Luck gets very little credit for a good one.

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2 thoughts on “The narrative fallacy

  1. Aw, this was a really nice post. Taking the
    time and actual effort to create a great article…
    but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and don’t seem to get anything done.

    Like

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