Chances are you've seen a movie or read a book that ends with something like, "And they all lived happily ever after." That's bullshit. We all know it. So why do we keep telling ourselves the same tired story? What is that doing to our lives?
Here are the top 4 stories that we tell ourselves that hold us back from experiencing a fulfilled life:
1. A Hero Will Save Me/Us: If you believe in a white knight coming to save you or enlist you... you're missing the reality that you are the person most responsible and most capable of leading your life's charge. By ceding your power to the super hero, you pass the buck and miss the chance to feel your own latent power. Rather than play the victim or the bystander, you can play the hero! It's more fun. The first step? Accept the role... knowing that "With great power comes great responsibility."
That responsibility requires you to grow into yourself. Which leads to the 2nd dangerous story:
2. I Have to Change To Become A Hero: I have to invent an iron suit or be bitten by a radioactive spider or I need to be knighted by a king or I need to become a crime-solving savant. It's not about becoming a better person, it's about becoming your best You.
I see this in myself and in my clients all the time. I call it the glossy mask. What do you tell the world that you are that you really are not? Is it, "I know exactly what I'm doing, I'm a 100% thoughtful spouse, I'm an artist without creative blocks or challenges, I'm a hyper evolved sex guru with personal awareness out the yin-yang." Just be you. Be you with your flaws and your curiosities and your idiosyncrasies.
And everything you need to learn... you can learn. But nobody is going to find you and teach you... you have to find your way to learn it yourself. Which is the 3rd dangerous story we tell ourselves.
3. Merlin/Mr. Miagi/Obi Wan Kenobe Will Find Me: This is a variant of "the hero will save me," but it is even more challenging. If you're waiting for Joseph Campbell's mystical mentor figure to magically show up and teach you the crane kick or how to use your sword... you'll wait your whole life. You actually have to want to learn, first, and then you have to want to be taught, second. Only then you can start to look around for a mentor.
Guess what? Mentors are all around you right now, but they don't just inject themselves in your life. Imagine if they did, you'd have people correcting your driving in traffic, your golf swing at the range, and your penmanship at the bank while signing checks. You have to decide you want a mentor, figure out what kind, be prepared to show up and potentially pay for the advice, and then ask for help. It's not sexy, but asking for help is the best way to speed up the process of learning.
Oh, and just like Luke Skywalker. Sometimes your mentors bow out because they've taught you everything you need to learn... and because there is no happily ever after (nor is there an end to sequels)... you will have to saddle up again and go find your next mentor and your next level.
Which leads to the 4th Dangerous Story we tell ourselves.
4. Someday, I'll be done and there will be a Happily Ever After: This thought breeds stagnancy and isolation. Happily Ever After leads down dark roads. If you think you can "achieve" greatness and then you're just great forever... then you'll find goals to be very unmotivating. How?
If accomplishing your goals is the definition of "done" then you get into two dangerous cycles:
A. If you don't accomplish your goals, then you are "not good enough" and therefore must not be the hero in your own story, or...
B. if you do accomplish your goals, then you'll find yourself asking, "Was that it? There must be more to life?"
So what's the Better Story?
Well, there are many variations of the same basic story, which you can start today with the Quickstart Guide to Purpose:
- Accept your intrinsic ability by naming your superpower.
- Set your compass based on principle and purpose! Create daily habits around your highest intention in life - what we currently call "purpose." Know you can't finish it, it's like finding the end of a circle.
- Imagine in concrete terms a future you want to create. Draw a life road map that motivates you to get moving.
- Do it. Start doing things that matter today. Don't wait to ignite your life's fire. Jump in!
- Form a team. Remember you are interconnected with the people, society, and world around you. You can find a mentor and team by clearly defining what you want to give/receive in those relationships... then asking people who fit your definition. In my program we actually create a Mentor Job Description.