The stories we tell ourselves frame how we view the world, our place in it and how we respond to it. I call this internal viewpoint our myths, our prisms that interpret the world. The myths we create for ourselves have a profound impact on our ability to recognize and respond to change. The prism through which we see the world is formed for each of us, not surprisingly, during our formative years. For example, the children of the depression in the 30’s were adults in the boom years of the 50’s but they never took prosperity for granted and made decisions based on that view. The children of the depression could never have been the free spenders of the 80’s and 90’s.
The myths of credit unions developed in the formative years of credit unions. Credit unions were a movement then, not an industry. Members were drawn to credit unions because credit unions met the financial needs of members who were underserved and overcharged by the banks. Credit unions had better rates and intimate, customized service levels. Member ownership and self-government gave members a sense of empowerment and independence from the factory owners and bankers who otherwise ruled their worlds. The “goodness” of credit unions was self-evident and did not have to be marketed. From those myths we tell ourselves that only credit unions really care about the members and know how to serve them. Only we know what is best for our members. These myths comfort credit unions with a false sense of security that the natural order of things will always contain credit unions and people will know through their DNA about the “goodness” of credit unions.