I’ve recently finished reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Don Miller. The story begins with two film-makers contacting him about making a film of one of his earlier books. As they talked about how they’d need to re-write some of the story to make a successful film, he realized that were some parts of his life that were a bit dull. As he writes at the opening of the book:
‘If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield wipers. You wouldn’t tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on to think about the story you’d seen. The truth is, you wouldn’t remember that movie a week later, except you’d feel robbed and want your money back. Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo.
But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to feel meaningful. The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won’t make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either. Here’s what I mean by that: (to be continued)’
Don Miller decided that instead of simply being a consumer of his life, he’d become its producer. I was impressed by the courageous and honest way in which he looked at his life and took the deliberate decision to write a better story for himself. It was clearly a profound experience for him and has left me with a lot to think about.
Remember how all the episodes of ‘Friends’ are called ‘The one where …’? I was thinking about this with relevance to my own life. What would my episodes be called? What might your episodes be called? ‘The one where you start your own business’? ‘The one where you sign up for your MBA’? ‘The one where you buy a small-holding?’ ‘The one where you present your new product launch to the Board?’ ‘The one where you move back to your home town to be nearer family’? ‘The one where you send your manuscript to a publisher?’
What we say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to will shape our stories. To say ‘yes’ to studying might mean saying ‘no’ to a trip overseas. To say ‘yes’ to that job opportunity might mean saying ‘no’ to a house move. If we say ‘yes’ when we should say ‘no’, we’ll end up overwhelmed and ineffective. If we say ‘no’ because we fear the consequences of ‘yes’ – risk of failure or embarrassment or simply because it might be difficult – we will become stuck and so will our story.
It’s your story – no-one else’s. I’d like my story to be one in which our plucky heroine lives a life full of fun and adventure. According to Don Miller, it’s my job to make this happen. For my first step, I’m going to create a storyboard, with a big sheet of paper and my favourite fluorescent sticky notes and I’ll take it from there. I’ll keep you posted.
Today’s pebble for you: what story do you want to create?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
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