No One Wants to See Your Before Picture

Thoughts on strength and personal growth

Chris Brogan
· 2 min read

I made a terrible mistake the other day: I chose to express my vulnerability. In so doing, I scared a bunch of people, some of which are in the process of worrying whether I’m capable of accomplishing what they need me to accomplish. Upon review, it wasn’t a really smart move.

No One Want to See Your Before Picture

In every story of transformation, we really need to know that there’s a transformation coming. We can’t stand the “before” part of any story. Harry Potter starts with this poor sad kid under the stairs, and we have to understand that he’s living with relatives who hate him and don’t want him around, and who basically make his life hellish. If that went on for a full hour (in the movie) or for 100 pages (in the book), we’d put the book down and contemplate what we could swallow a bottle of before anyone noticed.

Before pictures are miserable. We hate seeing people act weak. It’s a terrible and unsightly feeling, and we don’t know what to do when it happens.

See, I made that mistake, because the way I presented what was going on, I put all the emphasis on the before, and not nearly enough on the “after.”

Without An After Picture

And that’s the requirement. If there’s no “after” to the story, no “until I figured out a better way to go about this,” we feel queasy, or worse, we think the person in the story is a failure and something not worthy of our time and attention.

There’s no great story that comes from only the before picture.

So my sin, and it was difficult to realize that I had committed it, was to not explain my “after” well enough. And so I left my audience (such as it were) with a pitiful and weak rendition of where I sat in the storyline.

Thus, this week, I have to write an after story, or I’ll risk even more perception of my misery.

Perception. How I loathe thee. But hence forth, I’ll glean power from being clear how I portray the reality of it all. Ah yes. Marketing and storytelling, you are always there, aren’t you?

Chris Brogan is a very successful and accomplished New York Times bestselling author and sought after keynote speaker, as well as consultant to many of the world’s biggest brands. He is the publisher of Owner magazine, the business curriculum for your future. He has never had a bad day.

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