Narrative bliss: say yes to the adventure …
What am I good at?
What do I love?
What does the world need?
Nearly a decade ago, I found myself reinventing my life. Again.
I grew up on the Iowa plains and in the Minnesota pines. Went to college, studied history and literature. Served in internships for media powerhouses. Followed my passion for journalism to graduate school. Worked in press offices on Capitol Hill. Advanced through the ranks at global PR firms. Moved across the country. Consulted for a large tech company, a few startups, and several philanthropies. Became a parent. The “on-ramp” became an “off-ramp” and then an “on-ramp” again. Life was changing at fast -- then it did that thing that it does -- I was on my own and it was time yet again to reinvent my world.
Today, almost 10 years wiser, I now understand this central truth: this is life. And business. It’s the way it rolls. We set out. We succeed. We fail. We dust ourselves off. And do it all over again. Powered by grace, grit, and good people who show up, we just keep going.
This is the journey, I later realized. And the gift. And what I now know is true? No struggles, no stories.
Three questions were my daily companions during this era: what am I good at, what do I love, and what does the world need? I had been a writer all of my life. Things tend to show up early as first loves, and asking people what was their favorite thing to do as a child is one of my favorite questions. I decided to pursue Storytelling in business. In the beginning, some people were fascinated. Others? Mystified. Still others? Not convinced. Hard to believe that less than a decade ago, there was limited understanding about what this new (and ancient) discipline was or could be. Whether people embraced it or not, Storytelling as a business discipline was evolving rapidly, while digital transformation simultaneously rolled across the planet, changing everything in its wake. Now just a few years later, the lesson is clear. Shakespeare was right: all the world's a stage.
Today, that stage is calling all of us, ready or not. We’ve always been storytellers. We’re wired for story. And growth is our opportunity. The sheer speed of innovation drives our need for perpetual evolution and the ability to talk about it. Round and round we go, if we say yes to the call. Joseph Campbell made it his life's work to study comparative mythology and discovered the essence of every great story ever told: what he called the Hero's Journey. Answer the call, set out on the adventure, seek mentors, struggle with challenges, return with the treasure. Today everyone -- from individuals to global corporations -- is seeking to master how to communicate through various forms of narrative expression to transform themselves, their products, and their brand. Find the soul of your story, take the audience on an adventure, and move us. This is the challenge for all of us, and why we do what we do.
In our 21st century quest to advance ourselves and our ideas, narratives lead the way. "The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to the adventure," Campbell wrote. Embrace the struggle. Move forward. Then get real and share what unfolds. It will change you, your work, and your world. Whether you're a person or a company, what is the story you want to tell? What are you good at? What do you love? And what does the world need? That's the story we want to hear. The world awaits.
Photo: How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? The inspiring sky above Saguaro National Park, Arizona, 2018.