Byron's Babbles

The Entire Arc Of The Experience

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on September 12, 2022

It has been said that endings have a disproportionate influence on any narrative. So, why do endings disproportionately influence our memory for an entire experience? Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman distinguished between the experiencing self and the remembering self. He concluded that we experience as events and life is happening but we remember based on the ending. Our narratives thus become either successful or unsuccessful.

“All’s well that ends well.”

William Shakespeare

In the way that we think, William Shakespeare was right, “all’s well that ends well.” The problem is this leaves out the “middles.” We must take into account the entire arc of the experience. This means we need to reflect on all the benchmarks in a story or memory. For example if I reflect back on my mom’s stroke with only it ending in her death, I miss reflecting on some of the most incredible moments spent with my mom at the hospital.

As leaders and humans we must be careful of over emphasized endings. Think about the way a fiction novel ends very differently than a biography. We don’t script our endings to any of life’s or our organizations’ happenings. Those stories are messy and have lots of points of interest and context along the storyline continuum. By reflecting on the entire arc of the experience we can learn so much from all the stories we are living. Instead of just the “ends” we need to be highlighting points from the “middles.”


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