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Bring Your Vision to Life

December 16th, 2015

Hello, Trailblazer!

We’re in the middle of December and I am almost overwhelmed by excitement that it’s almost here. Just a little bit longer. I can hardly wait!

Of course I’m talking about the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s WAY bigger than Christmas to me this year. Heck, we have Christmas every year. But a new Star Wars movie? It’s been 10 years!

Scouring the internet for theories and rumors and possible “leaks” from the story has been as much fun as shaking and squeezing presents under the tree when I was a kid. I am stupidly giddy with expectation.

My younger son and I have reserved seats for a showing Thursday night. I really hope I can keep my gasps and cheers and “oohs” and “aahs” down to a reasonably quiet level.

Playing with possibilities
A big part of the anticipation is speculating about what might happen and which characters might be connected to which other characters. It’s the fun of playing around with all the possibilities of a story.

Even after I’ve seen the movie, part of the fun will be considering what they could have added or could have done differently, as well as considering what elements of the story they didn’t address that could have meaning. Could that character be connected to the evil emperor killed in the first trilogy? Could this character be connected to a hero from long ago? So exciting!

The Power of Story Craft

The ability to get drawn into stories and to enjoy creating possible threads from the cloth the writer gives us is wired into our brains. Early in the last century psychology pioneer Carl Jung talked about archetypes, these Platonic patterns in our minds that show up as character types and story types across cultures and across time.

More recently neuroscience shows there really are some underlying patterns that our brains tend to perceive which serve as anchors for memory and meaning. In other words, we’re wired for story.

Meaning flows from story
That means the best way to communicate something important to people is by telling a compelling story. Beats streams of data and facts every time.

But it also points out that meaning is experienced as story. How things connect to one another, elicit patterns that relate them to other things, remind of us other experiences, and pull up emotions from related experiences, all together create meaning. And that connected understanding across patterns of experiences is story.

It can harm and it can heal
The bad news is everything we believe, everything that compels us, every value and principle that guides us, is a story. The stories we tell ourselves drive our behavior and our emotions. These stories can keep us trapped in our circumstances or cycling again and again through fear and anger and victimhood.

The good news is everything we believe, everything that compels us, every value and principle that guides us, is a story. And we can choose to rewrite the story.

Facts are facts. Things happen. But events have no inherent meaning by themselves. Their meaning to us is how they fit into a story we tell ourselves.

Weaving the threads together
The sudden death of a parent who is middle aged could be seen a tragic loss in a life of misfortune, or the beginning of the collapse of someone’s ideal life, or a powerful inspiration to live every day with purpose and vibrancy. It depends on what patterns it elicits and what storyline it fits in.

A friend forgetting lunch plans could be quirky old John just being his goofy self, or it could be that overworked friend who keeps trying to please everyone and just can’t say ‘no’ so he winds up too busy, or it could be that phony guy who keeps talking like he’s a friend but never really acts like it. The very same behavior from the very same person could generate very different stories for different people because of the other patterns and the other experiences in their lives.

Intentional author
The end of the year is nigh. People will be talking about looking back over the year that has passed and looking ahead to the one about to dawn. Remember, you write the story of what happened. Events transpired. But you thread them together to create meaning.

Choose well.

Application: Look for the elements of your story in the values and principles that showed up through events. Look for the strengths you displayed. See what’s really there, no fantasy writing! But remember that your strengths, principles, and values are showing up in your life in some way. Find them.

Question: What values and principles do you want to honor in your story, and what strengths do you want to spotlight?

We Star Wars fans can’t write Jar Jar Binks out of the movies. If you have no idea who he is, “do a Google,” or just click here and see a clip. He’s a foolish character. We can’t make Jar Jar go away. But we have had fun speculating about what could have been and what might explain his annoyingly goofy qualities. Sticking with events that happened, we have a lot of latitude in making up explanations.

Your experiences are a series of events. They aren’t the whole story. The story is the way you thread together the patterns across events to generate meaning and evoke emotions.

You are the author of your own story. You not only have the power to direct much of what happens in your life through your choices. You also have the power to choose the themes that create the meaning and mood of the story you tell yourself.

May you be agile – and a self-compassionate story crafter – on your trail.

Take Care,

Stephen Coxsey, MA, PCC
Professional Certified Coach (ICF)
Self Empowerment and Leadership

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About Steve Coxsey

Steve collaborates with his clients to design and implement a customized plan for success, well-being, and fulfillment for themselves and the people they lead. They thrive on a personally meaningful path and instill a culture of thriving wherever they lead.

Steve is a supportive ally to his clients. They are typically people in charge who have to juggle competing responsibilities in a variety of roles. They have a compelling vision of what they would like to create or accomplish and are committed to turning it into reality. To make that happen, they develop the agilities of leadership to be able to empower and direct themselves, craft meaningful work, and inspire others.

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