The SUV had been bouncing on the dirt road for at least an hour when the driver made a sudden stop. Matt looked up from his video equipment to see that a truck had stopped a few yards ahead, thus impeding his vehicle’s progress. It wasn’t the first time that he had seen something like this. The news cameraman had witnessed dozens of broken down vehicles during his assignment in war-torn Nicaragua. But something about this particular instance felt different.

The driver pleaded with both Matt and the reporter to stay in the SUV, but they got out to investigate anyways. That’s when the two understood the source of the driver’s anxiety. A military roadblock appeared about twenty yards ahead of the stopped truck. Matt’s American news team had stumbled into a standoff between government soldiers and rebels.

Instinctively, Matt stepped away from the SUV to get a better view and pointed his video camera toward the commotion. He zoomed-in to see a puff of smoke emerge from one of the roadblock guard’s rifles, followed immediately by the sound of it firing. The rebels countered with their own volley, escalating the standoff into an all-hands shootout.

Matt had placed himself in the perfect position to film the skirmish. By standing behind the rebels, his camera could capture both sides of the conflict. However, while this position proved perfect from a photographic perspective, it posed a safety issue. Standing behind a target increased one’s chances of becoming a casualty of war.

“Weren’t you scared?” I asked.

“I should have been,” Matt said. “I could hear stray bullets whizzing by my head. But no. I wasn’t.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because you can’t get hurt watching television.”

Matt explained that in the moment, he didn’t see himself as a cameraman in the middle of a shootout. Instead, he was an observer watching a movie scene play out in his viewfinder.

The stories that we tell ourselves are powerful. They can make us walk through fire or run from it. They can make safe situations feel dangerous, or give us a false sense of security as real bullets fly by our heads. We are motivated by the stories that we tell ourselves.

So, which stories are you telling yourself? Which ones are your customers telling themselves?


Photo Credit: Harris & Ewing, photographer. [Man and Woman With Rifle?]. United States, 1924. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,