A myth is a truth that is larger than fact. The details may or may not be factual, but that's not the point.
Myths are for when our reality falls short. Filled with archetypal images, haunting tragedy and wondrous victories they inspire and taunt us. We need them to carry us beyond the stark sterile data of our living and lift us beyond ourselves, beyond our comfortable or excruciatingly painful today. Myths tell us of extraordinary happenings among ordinary people. They help us discover our own extra-ordinary existence. Yet, we often discount the power of myth.
More than once I've heard the statement "Don't believe that, it's a myth!" The implication is that myths are lies, fabrications that we need to discount or relegate the position of fable, children's stories that might well entertain us but must be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. Myths are not facts and facts are the realm of adult, mature and important people. And so this myth about myths gets promoted.
Meanwhile, Countless books are making their way into the business world about the power of story to market and grow your business.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Seth Godin – All Marketers Are Liars
Bernadette Jiwa – The Fortune Cookie Principle
Daniel Pink – To Sell Is Human
Chip and Dan Health – Made To Stick
Each of these works taps the truth that once we are connected to a product or brand by our own experience, our own mythical images and understandings, we are hooked. While I may not buy some newly branded, unknown shoes, give me a story about how each of the shoes I buy provides shoes to children in poor counties, and I'm sold! Story sells. Well it markets at least.
Myths are stories that have been successful, over time, in marketing a particular idea or passing an ethical code of conduct from one generation to the next. Myths are enduring, largely because we believe them, we believe the larger truth that they tell.
Myths are made of misfortune
Reasoned out by those who failed
Myths are tall tales of adventure
Carried on by those misled
Myths are truer than facts
Recorded by scholars who succeed
Myths are larger than reality
Confounded by dreams remembered
Myths then, are story that serve us with a message somehow contained in the telling and retelling of itself – messages that help grow us. Be nice to the next myth you hear. It may be just the tale you need.