Theme 8: Storytelling & Bravery
Own your story and share it with the world.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
Dr. Brené Brown
Why is this theme important?
Everyone has a story. Whether you have the courage to own it, risk the vulnerability you feel in telling it, and are brave enough to deliberately write your future story is entirely up to you.
Own your own story & embrace your vulnerabilities.
One of the bedrock practices we’ll engage with throughout this Escape Tribe experience is something called Open Mics.
Open Mics are simple, but as you’ll quickly learn when you step onto the stage, not necessarily easy. At least if you’re willing to be honest with yourself and open with your fellow Tribe, and embrace your fears, doubts, and vulnerabilities, it won’t be easy. Here’s why:
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” –Dr. Brené Brown
An Open Mic is an opportunity for you to offer us a peek inside your mind – maybe it’s a story you’ve never told. A moment in your life that shaped who you are today. Maybe it’s a revelation about yourself that you’re only uncovering today. It could be the honest truth that you’re struggling with the Escape Tribe exercises or this whole experience entirely. All of this is fuel for an Open Mic. Please use it.
Open Mics are just one example. Every day and every moment you’ll be confronted with a choice: to be honest and to risk being ‘seen’ or to not be. The choice is yours.
People who stage successful escapes work diligently to scrape away the unhelpful masks and untruthful layers that have been building up on us over time. And be patient. This will take time.
Power, courage and self-knowledge comes from confronting these layers and carefully peeling them away. Courage is letting the real you shine through. Your escape depends on you being true to us (we’ll be able to help you more), but more importantly, being true to yourself. Even if you’re not even sure who that really is yet.
If you can’t find the words, try letting your heart and soul speak for you. You may find that it takes more effort to conceal that person than it does to let that person speak. Speak your truth.
Being vulnerable and honest about who you are and what you’re experiencing will allow us to connect with you and will give us a glimpse into who you are; a human being like the rest of us, just trying to figure out this thing called life.
Understand the building blocks of a great story.
Think back to your favorite movie, novel, documentary or real-life story. Not just one that entertained you, but one that made you feel something. One that stuck with you and struck a chord within you.
Stories that deeply move us tend to follow a familiar structure. It’s not always intentional or precise, but great stories that resonate undoubtedly have the following building blocks:
A Protagonist: This is our hero/heroine – the central character (or characters) around whom the story revolves. The one we want to succeed.
The Protagonist’s Desire: What the hero/heroine desperately wants: to capture the holy grail; to save a loved one; to protect their hometown; to get the girl (or the guy); to defeat the bad guy.
An Antagonist: An external force — the bad guy, the alien, the natural disaster. Sometimes the antagonist is internal — the protagonist’s own flaw holding her back. It’s the force keeping the protagonist from realizing their desire.
A Quest: This is the quest of the protagonist — the story arc itself. It’s the story of the hero as they pursue their goals and desires. If it’s a great story, the protagonist will be transformed in some way.
So, what does this have to do with us and our escape?
Viewing our own escape through this storyteller’s lens can be a powerful tool, especially when things get tough. And understanding what makes a story great can help instruct us on how to live a more interesting and meaningful one. More on this below.
Choose to live an interesting story.
Whenever you’re feeling stuck, challenged, like the burden of it all is too tough to bear, try this:
Zoom Out and view yourself and your story in the 3rd person watching your story unfold. View your current life situation as an observer who cares deeply about the protagonist and wants her to succeed in her pursuits. When we zoom out, your story looks quite similar to the great stories that resonate with us:
You’re the protagonist. You’re the hero/heroine. You’re the one we want to see succeed in your pursuits.
Your desire is what you’re pursuing. What do you want? What are you working toward? This is perhaps the toughest (but most important) piece of the puzzle. Without this desire, we have no story.
“If a character doesn’t want something, they’re passive. And if they’re passive, they’re effectively dead. Without a desire to animate the protagonist, the writer has no hope of bringing the character alive, no hope of telling a story and the world will almost always be boring.” — John Yorke
Your antagonist is the force you must confront in pursuing that desire. The obstacles, the challenges, your own self-doubt, fears and flaws.
Your quest is your story of transformation. This is the very journey of your escape. Your quest and your transformation is a choice that only you can make. As John Yorke says of a protagonist’s quest:
“Change of some kind is at the heart of this quest, and so too is choice, because finally the protagonist must choose how to change.”
When we live our lives as if it’s an interesting story, we accept that, like a story, it comes complete with secret twists and unforeseen turns, euphoric highs, gut-wrenching lows, and moments where we see how our story fits perfectly into an even bigger story.
If you’re worried, if you’re having a “wobble,” if you’re feeling lost or stuck (or all of the above), remember: Zoom Out. How would you want your favourite protagonist to act in this situation? When in doubt, go and do that.
You have the power to write the future of your story. Try making it an interesting one.
“Every day we’re writing a few more words of a story. And when you die, it’s not like ‘here lies Drew, he came in 174th place.’…I stopped trying to make my life perfect, and instead tried to make it interesting. I wanted my story to be an adventure — and that’s made all the difference.” –Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox
- Understand the essence of a good story and the ways you can live one.
- Map your current story onto The Escapee’s Journey to understand your next move.
- Practice speaking a new story or new stories into the world.
- Plan and execute the next brave steps in your story.
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