If you’re here, you’ve likely read a few of my posts and my references to taking command of your story.
What is this venture, you ask. Is it a writer’s workshop?
That’s not what I’m offering, although as an avid reader I’d love to hear about your book if you are working on one…
Oh, are you a ghost writer, writing stories for other people?
I’m doing a bit of that, yes, but it’s not visible work. I’m a ghost, after all. (Boo!)
No, I’m talking about a different kind of story. The one that unfolds page by page every day.
It’s the story of YOU.
I had previously written about the prevalence of stories in Why Stories?
But maybe it needs further explanation…
So, what does it mean to take command of your story?
It means thinking about how your past has influenced your present and doing the necessary introspection and planning to ensure your present creates a positive storyline for your future. It means fully knowing and understanding the motivations of your central character (that’s YOU!) and your cast of supporting ones. It means envisioning the driving action of your next chapter while preparing for the plot twists that may trip you up. Most importantly, it means you OWN your story. At any given time, you have the power to end a chapter that’s not working for you and to craft a more satisfying one.
What’s the impact if you don’t assume command?
You may look around one day and say, “How did I get here?”
You may find yourself a mere bit player to someone else’s starring role.
You may wind up in chapter ten, wishing you could change the previous nine.
You may even feel it’s too late to change your storyline. This is just the way things are and there’s little chance to change the narrative at this point. Let’s just close the book now, it wasn’t that great of a read anyway. Sigh…
Since launching Commander-in-She, I’ve had a number of people share their stories with me, each acknowledging missed opportunity to author their own adventure. Now we’re working on getting them in the driver’s seat with both hands on the wheel.
Take “Sue”… Sue’s first job wasn’t her intended career path but it was with a solid company and she needed the work to pay her student loans. She did well, progressing from temp to full-time, taking on increasing responsibilities. So motivated was she by positive feedback and her quick trajectory, she never gave much thought to where she was headed. Years passed and she survived not one but two rounds of layoffs, each time taking on the duties of those the company had let go. Now, more than eight years in, she’s had no time to think about where she’s headed or the energy to change it. With little life outside of work, she’s questioning whether it’s worth it. Sue’s not sure what comes next and wonders how she got here.
Or what about “Cassie”… According to her boss, she’s been doing a “good job” for the years she’s been in the role. 11 of them. For 11 years, Cassie has been cranking out good work. She’d like to know what’s next and has asked for more responsibilities and a promotion but her boss feels she’s “not ready.” What’s worse, he cannot define for her what would make her ready. “I’ll know it when I see it,” he tells her. That doesn’t give Cassie much to go on. So she keeps going, now in her 12th year, feeling she’s put too much in to pull out now but wishing for more.
It shouldn’t take burnout or a bad boss to make you question where you’re headed. And taking command of your story doesn’t have to mean a daunting total rewrite. It means being aware of your story components and how they change – or how you’d like for them to change – over time.
After all, you are the one crafting this story. Don’t let anyone else define it for you. And don’t look back at your past chapters with any sense of regret. Evaluate and use them to plot your next one. “Stuck” is only a temporary chapter. Action of any type drives our stories.
Stories are ever-changing, always-developing, amazingly powerful things. By examining the basics of storytelling – character, plot and point of view – you can enhance YOUR story.
Make it a page turner. What happens next?
Curious? Ready to take command? Commander-in-She offers career strategy sessions, action planning and resume writing for individual clients and storytelling workshops and keynote presentations for corporations and professional groups. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for pricing and to make an appointment.