We have now entered the second week of the New Year and I am ready to put into action the resolutions I created for myself during the first week. Technically, the process could have begun on January 1 but I am a creative person: sometimes easily distracted, often suffer from procrastination and at times deal with a dose of (unhealthy) perfectionism which means lists need to be fully itemized and color-coded before they can be implemented. So now- I’m ready.
As I began to reflect on my 2017 resolutions there was a common theme that emerged: they all somehow tied to traits or things I already possessed. My goals all center around how to make better use of them, not waste them, create opportunities so that they can be used more purposefully and somehow impact our city’s and world’s greater good. The more I pondered “how”, the more I contemplated a recent speaking engagement I attended last month at the FedEx Forum.
Donald Miller, the founder of StoryBrand, was the first speaker at the newly established Memphis Grizzlies Keynote Speaker Series. While StoryBrand’s focus is on helping businesses better communicate their messages in ways that are clear and concise to customers, I found the advice and wisdom Miller shared easily applicable on a more personal level as well. It was clear that there was a fundamental understanding that companies are run by human beings and our focus must ultimately include their growth and well-being.
Miller explained the anatomy of a story and how an understanding of it could help us as professionals and, more importantly, as people: the story is made up of a character with a problem who meets a guide. The guide gives the character a plan and calls them to action. That action results in either success or failure. Hence, the success or failure rests on both the character and the guide. Because of this, according to Miller, a guide needs to do two things: have empathy and demonstrate authority and competence. And while it may seem contradictory (at least it did to me, initially) I learned that we as human beings do not follow heroes. “We honor heroes, we don’t choose them to follow. We choose guides,” says Miller.
In order for a story to exist it has to have a problem and Miller maintains that there are three levels of problems found in any given story: the external, the internal and the philosophical. “The purpose of the external problem is to manifest the internal problem.” He explains to the many executives and company leaders in attendance that consumers seek to buy solutions to internal, not external, problems. And I consider, as Miller is speaking, that this train of thought can be applied to our lives outside the realm of consumerism, too. I have mentioned before in previous blogs about the idea of looking beneath the surface and believe that would also apply here, as the elements of a story are dissected. If we take the time to compassionately address external problems, the underlying internal problems will reveal themselves. It is then that we can seek ways to solve them and, in turn, if we allow our empathy to go into overdrive, turn our attention to the philosophical problems that have ensued.
So while StoryBrand is geared towards helping companies, and has been hugely successful doing so, in essence it is also geared towards creating a better understanding of/for our collective humanity. For me, Donald Miller proved to be a most-perfect guide as 2016 ended and 2017 began: a new year filled with impending possibilities to solve our stories’ problems.
to learn more about StoryBrand go to https://storybrand.com
to learn more about the Grizzlies Speaker Series go to www.nba.com/grizzlies/tickets/groups/keynote/
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