The Story of Our Lives
What makes a great story?
The question is anything but simple. Especially, when you consider the same elements that make a great novel apply to the story of our lives, as well.
The difference is, when it comes to the story of our lives, each of us is his or her own author. We get to breathe life into our characters. We get to create the storyline. We get to develop and define the characters. And, we get to recognize the conflicts and resultant tension that only you and I can resolve.
I discovered the parallels that exist between writing a good story and crafting a better life while writing Misfire, the book I just completed. The similarities are compelling. Because, once you realize that you are the creator of your own life’s story, there is no excuse to not write the best, most compelling tale you are capable of writing.
There are a few key components of a good story that also apply to everyday life. First are the characters. If the parallel that exists between a great story and the story of your life is real—and, I believe it is —you have to ask yourself about your character development: the persona you have created for yourself. And, then, ask that same question about the characters you have surrounded yourself with at home, at work, and in life. Are they compelling? Are they contributing to your story or are they a distraction? Do they help move your story in a direction you would like to go?
Next comes setting, where the story takes place. Is where you are everything it needs to be in order to take you where you want to go? When you look at your business — preferably, with someone else’s eyes — is it what you’ve always dreamt it would be? Or, has it become a perversion of that dream?
Next comes plot. One of the most important things I’ve learned while involved with my book was that great characters—much like great clients and employees—aren’t always satisfied with the story you’ve chosen. Full-functioning, fully-developed characters often cultivate a vision of their own and embrace difference goals and objectives. Are you aware of what those goals and objectives are? Are they consistent with yours? If not, you’re very likely to experience the fourth story element, and that is conflict.
Conflict occurs when characters are faced with insurmountable circumstances. It could be pursuit by a predator, a natural disaster or a family crisis. It could also be making payroll, a human resources challenge, or a worker’s comp claim. Conflict invariably leads to tension: the tension between your perceived goals and objectives — your vision for the future— and your current reality.
The end of every good story has a resolution. A place where the tension and the conflict are resolved. It’s up to you as the author to figure out how to make this happen.
If you recognize the story of your life remains unfinished: a work in progress, and that, as its creator, you can take that story anywhere it needs to go to provide the conclusion you want and need, you know the time to edit that manuscript is now.
Tired of the conflict and the tension you suffer as a result of someone else's writing of the story of your life? Go hands-on! Find a pencil and a piece of paper and get to work writing something that works: something you would be proud of.
Your life’s story doesn’t have to be this way. It certainly doesn’t have to end this way. You have the power to take that story anywhere you want to go. It’s your story. Your book. You are the author and you have the power to create the kind of world you yearn to inhabit.