I invite you to join me for the next Story Talk session Thursday, April 15th at 12 noon Pacific where I facilitate a discussion with a thoughtful group of individuals working to make change and how we can use story to achieve it. You can register here. It’s fun. Do it.
Here is what one attendee said of past sessions: “Thank you for the beautiful opportunity to connect with you and others regarding storytelling and how we can use it to empower our missions. It was inspiring to see different facets of the non-profit world come together and brainstorm ideas, and I deeply appreciate the space you created. ” – Julia Iannielli
Question: if you were able to follow two, not one life path(s), what would your second/alternative life be like? I would be a fashion designer living in New York City or Paris.
Like the movie Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow, I love the concept of having two lives separated by one micro-moment – missing or catching the train. The plot essentially follows what happens when Gwyneth’s character descends to the Tube station in London and begins sprinting to catch the train arriving in the station. Her life, and the movie plot, take a fork when she makes it, and it goes an entirely different way when she misses it. The rest of the movie shows the considerable difference in trajectory in her two lives.
Think about how many times our lives take a fork in the road at every single moment based on a decision or action we take. None of this means we feel regret for a life chosen. It’sIt’s just hard to pick one life. So I’ll ask you again because I’m curious. Hit reply and tell me what your split-screen moments look like.
Some people are lucky enough to merge different loves into one thing.
One of the many reasons I love talking to people for my Breaking Trail Podcast is because they have found a path, it’s almost always by accident, based on pursuing things they love and being open to opportunity. Usually, they have varied experiences, and somehow serendipity connects two disparate things to form one extraordinary position. Take Brett Kruse, for example. His international upbringing informed a very open perspective to very different people and cultures, which contributed to his excellent human skills. He is also an Ironman athlete and an avid outdoors person, so when he joined Outdoor Research as their VP of people and culture, it’s another perfect example of serendipity at work. I’m sure Brett also has his own split-screen moments, but how cool is it when two different things come together to make one thing better?
But what if you feel lost? Are you reading this thinking, “I don’t have multiple things I’m trying to choose from. I can’t think of a single thing. ” I spoke to someone last week who felt this way, and it’s this conversation that prompted me to write this today.
This person is in her mid-thirties and feels like she is wandering aimlessly, When she told me about her life and where she is at this point, I didn’t see it as she does at all. I don’t want to share the details because it’s not my story to tell, but here is what I will say: I was struck by how fascinating her job is, how varied her background and experience are. Also, she has a fascinating side passion.
To me, she had her shit together. She said to me, “I don’t know what to do with my life.”
Her sentence faded away into silence, and I stared out to the horizon, wondering what to do with it, <internal dialogue: she doesn’t really want me to answer that question, right?”>
And she broke the silence with:
“Do you know (what I should do)?”
We both laughed. I stalled for a bit with other questions, and it all came to me like a flash.
She’s asking the wrong question. She doesn’t have to figure out “what to do with her life.” Neither do you. Who the eff has a life plan, anyway? She just has to figure out what she is going to do next.
When you are in the middle of your story, you don’t see a story. ESPECIALLY when it’s your own story. You are the mouse in the maze wondering if you’ll ever get to the tasty piece of cheese.
“All these people,” I said, “who look like they have their shit together? They do not. They did not have a life plan.”
It might seem neat and tidy when you look back and tell the story, but I assure you, more than likely, it was not part of a plan (maybe other than that of the Universe).
I remember when I felt in that lost and unhappy situation. (As I type this, I realize I too was in my mid-thirties) I’ve written about it before. In short, there was a moment during my Monday morning commute to work in downtown Seattle when I realized I didn’t want this life anymore. But I wasn’t sure what I did want in its place. I began to formulate a picture of it in my mind: I wanted to live in a small mountain town and do creative work independently. I didn’t know what exactly, where or how I’d get there. I started talking about it, thinking about it, researching about it. You can read about it here.
Opportunities and things started to open up from the discussions and research. One morning five years after that Monday morning, it struck me – I remembered that vision I carried in my head, and I had it.
It took five years to get there. I didn’t sell my belongings and backpack around Europe. Nothing dramatic happened. I found a job in a place I wanted to live. It wasn’t part of a master plan, and it certainly didn’t last long. Just three years – until I figured out what I wanted for the next step.
I think planning is overrated. Just take the next step. We are all still in the middle of our stories, that mouse in the maze. But we need to get out of our heads to see it.
Take care out there,
Some ways I may be able to help you and your team:
Want help seeing things differently? Ready to make that idea of yours happen? I have two slots available in April for my Take a Big Leap Coaching program for purpose-driven individuals who want to level up their career, business/organization, or want to strike out on their own and launch their thing. This four-month, one-on-one program will help you articulate and make your idea of change happen. Respond here, and we can schedule a time to discuss.
Help non-profit team members level up their storytelling. In this three-part series, I can work with your team to help you elevate your organization’s communications and storytelling skills. Want more details? Respond here to schedule a time to talk.
Digital Transformation. Need to bring your work online? I’m here to help. Contact me for details.
Stay in touch.
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