What Story are you Enacting?
How much of your life is directed from the foundation of
unexamined mythology? What if we are all enacting some sort
of story in our lives?
Now what do I mean by story? I mean that we have some vision, set
of ideas, or beliefs about ourselves that define us as a central
character in what could be called a “myth” or “story” that we’re
living out. All of the elements of the story have been either
passed down as part of our culture or upbringing, intuited, or
we’ve just plain made up. We then go about enacting our stories
as if it they were true, thus embodying the script from which we
live our lives.
So now you may say, “yes I can certainly buy that, I’m very well
aware that we are a product of our own thoughts and beliefs. So
what’s the big deal?”
The big deal is this. The vast majority of us don’t know that
we’re enacting a story. We actually think this is real life that
we’re living! (see the movie Matrix for a great metaphor). By
real life, I mean that we’re approaching life based on a set of
assumptions that aren’t necessarily backed by good evidence. So
when you don’t know that you’re enacting a story, you are
completely at its mercy with little control over the role you
play and the course it takes.
The story we enact often comes to us piecemeal and/or
non-verbally. It may include the stuff we “read between the
lines,” and unexamined assumptions. If you were to examine each
single element of your story by itself, it might appear obvious
to you, even if you’d never articulated it before. If all the
elements, however, were collected and given voice so that they
were presented to your conscious awareness, you might be very
surprised at what you find. In fact, you may be shocked to the
point you would want to forget the story entirely.
Now to make matters even more complicated, in addition to
enactingour own individual stories, we are also part of stories
which are bigger than us. We are enacting stories within our
relationships with individuals, and the groups we are involved
in, such as our families, work groups, community organizations,
our countries, etc. Even our civilization itself is acting out a
story, much of which we may not even be aware.
As a facilitator, you will encounter groups who are troubled,
often because they are enacting an unexamined story whose course
they feel powerless to alter. Helping them unravel their story
will grant them power over it. In other words, until you know
you’re an author, you cannot change what you’re writing.
propose that we will enact whatever story we choose to adopt as
our own, and will settle for the best one available. If we don’t
take the time to create a better one, we’ll continue enacting our
current story, even if it isn’t working all that well for us.
Discover your story.
Whether you’re working with a group or an individual, ask them to
assume they’re enacting a story. Now based on this assumption,
have them uncover the elements of their story. Ask them to be
detectives, hunting for clues. Looking at their behaviors alone,
have them describe the story they are living, piece by piece,
until the “whole” story emerges.
Evaluate your story.
Now have them assess their story. Ask them if this is a story they
are happy with. What would they change, remove, or add to this
story if it was ideal? Help the group come to consensus on the
authoring of the grandest story they can envision. A story that
inspires every member of the group.
Tell your story.
Facilitate a commitment from all group members to begin sharing
their new story amongst themselves and with other important people
in their lives. Encourage individuals to talk about their specific
role in the story and why it appeals to them. The more they talk
about their new story, the more it will become a part of them.
Rehearse your new role.
Finally, encourage individuals to commit to living their new role
in some way. Ask them to commit to making a change or changes in
alignment with the new story they wish to enact. Assign a
“narrator” for the group that will report the unfolding of the
new story each week. The group may even assign a “story time”
where they explore what kind of changes are taking place and the
challenges that are showing up as they attempt to enact this
Explore how your new story fits into the bigger story of your
family, organization, corporation, country, and world.
Your new story may be at odds with the bigger story in which your
particular group resides. Explore the contribution to the bigger
story your new one can make. Explore any obstacles presented by
this bigger story and refine yours if necessary so that it isn’t
overpowered or subverted by the bigger one. Remember, you are the
authors and you can write it any way you wish. You’re only limited
by your imaginations!
Try the above exercise either with yourself, looking at your own
life as a story you’re enacting, or with one of your groups. I’d
love to hear what happens for you. Please email us your comments.
About the Author
Steve Davis, M.A., M.S., is an Facilitator’s Coach, Infoprenuer,
and free-lance human, helping facilitators, organizational
leaders, educators, trainers, coaches and consultants present
themselves confidently, access their creativity, empower their
under-performing groups, enhance their facilitation skills, and
build their business online and offline. Subscribe to his free
weekly ezine at www.MasterFacilitatorJournal.com. Contact him at
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