We all love a good story, but how many of us actually live one? Too many of us settle for a yawn-inducing life of security that could have been a lot more interesting.
Living a good story requires risk. If a story is to be interesting, it needs the element of suspense. If, for example, you're in a place of comfort, you need to leave it. If you have resources, they must be deployed for some cause greater than yourself.
Without really understanding what I was doing along the way, I've tried to live an interesting story. I've traveled the world, started companies, experienced tragedy, and done life with a wonderful cast of characters.
As I've analyzed what makes the difference between the boring story and one that captivates us, I observed the following seven keys.
1. The yearning and waiting
You know there's something more, but you haven't experienced it. Maybe you've dreampt about it. You yearn for it and hope to summon up the courage to take a risk in the hopes of seeing it happen. Before then, you wait. Wait for your big chance to come.
2. Leaving home
The comforts of home protected you while you were growing, but they're not a great place for interesting stories. The element of suspense comes when you take the risk that puts the story in motion. At some point, you dive off the high dive and hope there's water in the pool.
3. Community and meeting the cast of characters
Leaving the familiar, you meet new people. Some of them become important parts of your story. Some of them you come to love. These are the characters in your story.
4. Adventures along the way
You encounter challenges and tests. Your expectations get dashed and you survive anyway. Your resources run out and you're forced to improvise. Your dreams meet reality and your thinking changes. Threats and opportunities show up and you grow from them. If you persevere, you may create something others find valuable.
5. The Conflict: The battle for self-discovery
The theme of self-discovery is always interesting. People are so multi-dimensional. Peel back the layers of the onion and what will you find underneath? Discovering brokenness is usually a turning point. Brokenness lies hidden in us all – what will we do with it when we smack into it? And how will we handle success?
6. The change: A new self
If you live a good story, then you must be prepared to change. Change is an inevitable result of conflict. Will you retreat within yourself, becoming more selfish? Or will you grow in ways that are surprising? What parallels will show up between your outward journey and your inward one?
7. The return
If you go away and are changed, the question about how the world you left behind has changed will haunt you till you return. And when you do return, will you be recognized? And if you're recognized, will you be appreciated? Will the changes in you be appreciated? The story may not end here, but if it does, whatever rest you enjoy thereafter is welcome.
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I pray that you're telling an interesting story. It's worth reflecting on whether it is or not. What does the story that you're telling with your life look like so far? Is it interesting? Have you risked enough? What dreams lie dormant within you waiting for your commitment for your real story to begin?