Let’s start in the most basic of assumptions: Everyone has a story to share.
Every story, yours included, has a beginning, a present and a future. Every story, yours included, has moments of triumph and moments of tragedy. Every story, yours included, has highs and lows, challenges and opportunities, friends and foes.
Every story, yours included, is worth telling.
In various careers in my life — journalism, academics, ministry and writing — I’ve had the chance to listen to a lot of people talk about the story of their lives. Many of those stories I encountered began with a statement along these lines (and admittedly, I’ve said this about my own): My story isn’t very interesting. Why would anyone care to listen to it?
But the truth is that you and I have stories. In fact our stories are filled with the elements that make up an exceptional story. I came across this list of seven elements of good storytelling and I thought I’d share these with you so that you and I can understand that we do, indeed, have a life story.
- Every story has a central premise: There is a theme to your life story. Maybe it’s that “good overcomes evil,”or that “family matters.” Maybe it’s a story of hardwork that overcomes the odds. Or, it’s simply a story of persevering through all that life brings. But the individual pieces of the puzzle of your life story will point to a theme if you are willing to find it.
- Every story has characters who change over time. You are not the same today as you were at this time yeseterday or a year ago or the day you were born. In your life story, you have changed. Your beliefs have changed and your assumptions have changed. You’ve learned to adapt over time. In your story, the changes that have occurred in you have also brought changes to others around you. Your story is a story of change.
- Every story involves a crucible. A crucible is a place in your story where the heat turns up and where it brings a change in you or the way you see the world. Life stories can be defined by many different crucibles over time. It’s what happened to you in the early years, the school years, the college years, the work years, the family years, and the challenges you faced in the short term and long term. You have discovered who you are when life has turned up the heat.
- Every story has a protagonist who is on some sort of quest. The protagonist is the character that carries the story — the central character. You are the protagonist of your own story and the quest for you is the life that you live. Some might say that the protagonist is the “hero” of the story, but in the future, we’ll look at how there is a bigger hero in our stories.
- Every story has an antagonist of some sort bent on stopping the central character. Along the way, you encounter something that or someone who stands in the way of you completing your life quest. Maybe it was someone who said, “You’ll never make it,” and, then, you decided to prove them wrong. Maybe it was the medical diagnosis, the family challenge, or the work challenge. Maybe your story has a nemesis. Somewhere in your story, you’ve had to overcome the odds.
- Every story is a story of change. A more traditional way of saying this is that every story has an “arc.” The arc spans across every part of the story of your life. At the heart of your story is the element — the arc — of change. Something has to change from what it was to what it is now to what it will be in the future. Our stories are built on that change.
- Every story includes conflict. Maybe, at the heart of it, we’d like to avoid conflict and drama in our life story. Yet, we need to be realistic and know that it is always going to be there. It is the conflict and our ultimate response to it that lead us to the changes in our stories. The conflict gives us an opportunity to say or do something important. The conflict is what we overcome. The conflict is where we sometimes fall, learn from our mistakes and, then, face it again. When we share that story with others, they can hear our life lessons in response to the conflict that we endured and overcame.
Everyone has a story to share. You and I have stories worth sharing. You and I have stories that others would listen to, connect with and learn from.
In our future core beliefs, we’ll talk more about our stories and how they connect us to something higher (a higher purpose) and to one another.
So, what kind of story are you telling with your life?
ReigniteMyStory.com is based on the idea that every life story can be reignited when we reset it, renew it and redeem it. You can contact me with ideas, questions or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org or by following me on Twitter at @reignitemystory.