I wrote the book Shift The Narrative because I came to realize that there’s a rate of return on being a victim, and it is really low. I myself was offered the chance to become a victim at a young age — blind at 16, with most of my fingers blown off. After I became an investor, I realized that although that rate of return on being a victim was positive, it was puny, and I wanted to pursue a different path.
I came to realize that, contrary to popular belief, our circumstances don’t produce our narratives. I began to ask what if our narratives produce our circumstances? Are there narratives that support us, and others that limit us? If so, what are they? How do we shift from those that hold us back to those that push us forward? Such core questions are explored in my book.
I began exploring the conversation of shifting narratives from the standpoint of investing and economics long before I actually began working in these disciplines. After I became an investor, I understood that economics is the study of scarcity. When you’re limited, as I was, blind and handicapped, you live in scarcity, or you’re inclined to do so. It occurred to me to ask, “What is scarcity? How does it work? Maybe I can understand that. Maybe there’s something to learn here.”
I discovered that there are two things happening in the world at any given time: there are scarce assets and abundant assets. I later met George Gilder and he taught me the first law of wealth: wealth flows to the organization or individual who squanders the abundant resources and preserves the scarce. George also taught me that it’s really hard to identify the scarce and abundant assets.
For instance, when you explore our big cities you see food stands on the city streets, and they’re abundant. I eat there all the time, and they’re really good and valuable. But it’s not a way to get wealthy. They’re too abundant.
Many books in the self-help genre approach the conversation from the idea of tapping into and acquiring abundance, and that you can have anything you wish. My approach is different and asks, “What would be valuable, and how could I offer that?”
Another difference with this book is the language. I frequently say, “It’s language, all the way down.” As an example, where the promise of many books is to “change your life” the promise of mine is to “shift your narrative.”
Personally, I don’t know how anyone could change their lives without shifting their narrative first. Perhaps, if they were in a plane crash their lives could be changed. But that wouldn’t be of their choosing. Shifting your narrative puts you in the cockpit of the plane.
There are two classes of readers who might find a narrative shift to be valuable. The first are those who are dissatisfied with an aspect of their lives. The second are those who are already satisfied with their lives but should read this book to make sure they’re not missing something.
I would like to see Shift The Narrative create an awakening for people that motivates them to say, “I want to have more responsibility in my own life and I’m going to start today. I choose to do whatever I can to affect the outcome of my life versus waiting for life to happen to me.”
Now, what is the rate of your return on your current narrative, and are you satisfied with it?
Russell Redenbaugh is a successful investor and economist and is a member of the board of directors of the Lexington Institute. Redenbaugh has served as Civil Rights Commissioner under three U.S. presidents and is a black belt, three time gold medal jiu-jitsu world champion. He is the founder of Kairos Capital Advisors, and the author of Shift The Narrative – A Blind Man’s Vision For Rewriting The Stories That Limit Us.
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