One of the main characters in our Transformational Journey from the Alamo is, of course, Davy Crockett. Like so many American heroes, much of what we think we know about Crockett is not based in fact but rather consists of stories created over the years in order to “sell” something.
For example, both the Walt Disney/Fess Parker TV show turned movie from the 1950s and the iconic Alamo John Wayne movie of 1960 tied into the then-raging Cold War by showing Crockett was willing to go anywhere to defend democracy and fight the good fight. History suggests otherwise. Crockett, defeated for reelection to Congress and financially broke, was looking for new opportunities. Enlisting in the Texas militia was a requirement before he could receive the free 4,428 acres offered all new settlers. The day of his enlistment, January 9, 1836, he wrote home to his relatives “every man is entitled to his head right of 400-428 acres… I would be glad to see every friend I have settled there… I am in hopes of making a fortune yet for myself and my family bad as my prospect has been.”
This anecdote makes two related points. First, years later we often “remember” alternate motivations for ourselves and our ancestors than actually existed at the time. Second, the stories we tell ourselves about the past serve particular functions. What stories does your organization tell about itself, and what is the function of those stories?