When OpenAI released its most current version of GPT-4 on March 14, 2023, one thing was abundantly clear. A whole new world of possibility is opening up and simultaneously closing doors. There will be no more need for a whole cottage industry of people (like me) helping clients craft their leadership stories, when a mere comment can produce something like this:
“Write a spoken word poem about the importance of leadership storytelling.”
Excerpt From Chat GPT-4
Leadership is more than just a title or a role
It’s the power to inspire, to motivate, and to console
And in a world where change is the only constant
Leadership storytelling is the key to staying relevant and consistent
Because when you can tell a story that connects with your team
You can create a vision that’s as clear as a dream
You can inspire action and build a culture of trust
And that’s how you lead with purpose, that’s how you must
Storytelling is a powerful tool, and that’s a fact
It can cut through the noise and make an impact
It can help you convey your values and your mission
And that’s how you build a legacy that will last for generations…
This jaw-dropping first attempt was completed in a matter of seconds. The amount of time required to spin out a Shakespearean take or a Lin-Manuel Miranda approach is no different. Here’s another example.
“Write a Lin-Manuel Miranda rap in the style of his musical Hamilton sung by the character Alexander Hamilton about the importance of leadership storytelling”
Excerpt from Chat GPT-4:
Lemme tell you ’bout a story,
‘Bout a leader with some glory,
And how he used his words to change the game,
And made a name, that’s still felt today.
Alexander Hamilton, that’s me,
And I know a thing or two ’bout leadership, you see,
It’s all about the narrative you spin,
And how you make your people believe, and win.
I came from nothin’, just a Caribbean kid,
But my words became my sword, my pen my shield,
And I wrote my way to the top, you see,
With stories that inspired and set us free.
From the Federalist Papers to the Battle of Yorktown,
My tales helped turn the tide, and shut the Brits down,
And when I wrote the Constitution, I knew,
That my leadership story, would pave the way anew.
For every leader needs a story to tell,
A narrative that captures and compels,
A vision that ignites and inspires…
While Mr. Miranda might consider this poem indigestible, it is a first draft, nonetheless. And a first draft is typically one of the most challenging stages in the story crafting process. AI cannot replace hundreds and thousands of jobs in the business of storytelling, yet, because it is still often riddled with errors. But the path is clear and the direction is unmistakable. When it comes to storytelling, artificial intelligence can do the heavy lifting for us, except for this.
If challenge is the nerve center of a story, change is the soul of it.
A straightforward story filled with nothing but glory and happiness is a boring story. What draws audiences to a story, what makes people feel a sense of connection, is the difficulty we face, the pain we endure and the revelation we arrive at. Above all, what makes a story memorable is the meaning that we generate from the experience. For most people, coming to one’s leadership story requires the passage of time, the willingness to reflect, and the skills of storytelling.
Take, for instance, the film critic Walter Chaw’s journey in reconciling his resentment toward actor Ke Huy Quan, who just won an oscar for best supporting actor in the critically-acclaimed film “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”
When Chaw was growing up in a small and mostly white town, Quan’s stereotypical characters of Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Data from Goonies were the only popular representations of Asians available to him and his friends. He played along, performing and perfecting his “Asian accent as minstrelry” while harboring deep anger and resentment toward these depictions.
Yet, a tumultuous multi-decade journey brought Chaw to a place of profound respect and understanding of Quan (and himself). This journey of discovery was only possible because Chaw was open to reflect. As summarized in the last few lines of his recent article, It Took Me Nearly 40 Years To Stop Resenting Ke Huy Quan.
“But here’s Quan, the same as he was when he was a kid, embodying all of the qualities that actually matter in the pursuit of a life well-lived: love for and faith in the people in your life who see you, and the candid recollection of the journey it took to get you to a place where you can finally see yourself. It’s not the awards that matter, it’s only this. I used to be embarrassed to be set against Quan in some way; now I can’t imagine a kinder comparison. I’m old, but I’m teachable. Maybe there’s hope for us, yet.”
Chaw is open, teachable, and willing to tell the world his story. Can ChatGPT do that for him?
If you are still worried about AI taking over the industry of leadership storytelling professionals, here’s another an article that will make you feel better.
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