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What's The Story Exercise

Lesson 14 from: FAST CLASS: Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life

Bill Burnett, Dave Evans

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Lesson Info

14. What's The Story Exercise

Lesson Info

What's The Story Exercise

So we often get asked, could you help us to do choosing better? You get biased action, how do you do that? And oh, by the way, that EQ plus IQ is better. How does that actually work? Okay, so we have an exercise here that hopefully will allow you to both work on your choosing and bring EQ consciously into it. Now, we already said, you know, the emotional center of your brain does not communicate in words so you can't get it to hang out with your, verbal center, but you could get your left brain to go down and hang out and visit with your emotional center. And that's what we're gonna do right now. We're gonna do that because our friend Dan Goleman, would say, "We depend on the wisdom, "the emotions, which has a lot to do with the imagination." Imagination is a very, very powerful tool. So we're gonna use our imagination because it's all about the story. The promise we're about to give you is, that decision making when you're doing the kind of decision making we do in a life design class...

, which is all decisions about competing goods. My guess is none of the stuff you're struggling with, has to do with the good thing versus the bad thing. Or the obvious thing versus the stupid thing. That's not hard, that's easy. It's the good versus the good that kills... I mean, which of these good things do I do? In that situation, your life design decision is really just picking which story is right for you. I will argue you're not making a decision. You're just selecting a story. Because again, these three versions, you remember the three versions thing? Thing one, thing two, thing three? Well, let's take our friend Alan. So actually, I was having the conversation with some MBAs one time, and let's call one of these guys. Alan, true story, real guy, and he said, "Oh, the three thing that doesn't really work for me, Dave." And I said, "Quickly, let me show you Alan, "how it works, what's that thing you want to do?" Oh, I'm gonna go work for a medical consulting firm. So I'm gonna hang on the medical field. That's great, oh guess what consulting is over Alan. Nobody does that anymore. What do you do now? Oh, my God, no, what do I do? Oh, well, I guess I would do strategy for a media company. I want to be in a large media company. I think that might be interesting. Okay, and Alan, that thing you like to do, that thing you don't talk about very much you know what I'm talking about, You know it is... what is it Alan, I promise you, you can make enough money and no one's gonna laugh at you and the real Alan the real not his name said, "Do you promise that won't laugh?" (audience laughing) I said, "Yes Alan, I promise that I won't laugh. "What is it?" He goes, "Well, I'd like to do boutique wine distribution." And by the way, I've told that story lots of times, no one's ever laughed. Oh, that sounds interesting, most people say. So that's Alan's three versions of himself, right? Now the question B says, okay, those are really three legitimate versions of who Alan could be. And each of them come with a story. So what's the story Alan? That's the exercise we're gonna do. We're gonna do the what's the story exercise. So for instance, the way it works is, imagine actually living into some of your alternate plans, you've already considered actually being those people, let's say number two, and number three, you can put... we're gonna do this twice. You can pick any of the three that you worked on. But let's imagine for the example here with Alan that his number two and his number three are the ones he wants us to play with for the moment. Imagine you've actually made this decision, you're actually this person. I am in fact, strategy media guy Alan, that's who I really am. Or I am actually wine distribution guy Alan and it's two and a half years into the five, I'm halfway through this five year experience. And I'm going along, and I'm living it and it's working for me. I mean, the good, the bad is not perfect. Don't get me wrong when they're compromises that hey every (indistinct) be making so much more money if I was consulting, but that's okay. Whatever it might be, that's the reality of it. And then you bump into this old friend on the street, and he goes, "Hey Alan, how's it going?" And you say, "It's going really good." Alan says is going really good. And then the friend says, sweet, What's the story? Hey, Alan, what's the story? And then Alan answers the question. So in this case what I'm saying is okay, so let's say I'm Alan, and I'm doing media consulting goes, "Hey Alan, what's the story?" Oh, sweet and what's the story there? So well, the story. You know, I kind of tell you, it's I mean I work with people who are right on top of the whole, digital communal thing, this media thing is really happening, the online world is going so incredibly fast. I just feel like I'm riding this tsunami cresting at 1000 miles now it's really fun to be on the leading edge of a fast moving thing. I'm really enjoying that, and I'm working with very different kinds of people. And I'm just getting a really big kick out of that. The hours are incredibly long. I gotta tell you, 'cause you know, there was deadlines all the time, and and it moves so fast we're constantly producing but part of that feels great I mean, we put up stuff so fast I'm incredibly productive. And that's what he sounded like Oh, that's cool. You know, no, no, no, no, I'm sorry no no no you should have your wine distribution Alan so I take five minutes I imagine that, I'm where I'm living now moving to different place. I see different people watch my life really like (mumbles) Then I bumped into Bill, "Hey, Alan, how's it going?" It's going great, sweet. Tell me the story. What's the story? Well, I gotta tell you, I have an MBA and I spent half my time outdoors. How cool is that? I wear jeans every day, I get to go talk to vintners, I deal with distribution people, we do private buying on behalf of mostly really wealthy people with amazing wine collections. I mean, I deal with the most amazing range of socio economic people from immigrant workers in the field all the way to these wealthy venture capitalists and everybody, even the truck drivers, and by that variety just, it's really a gas, I gotta tell you, and there's something about bringing a little joy into people's life, I mean, a nice glass of wine, that's really a pretty sweet thing. I do wonder sometimes where they like, does it really matter? I mean we haven't taught anybody to read or anything. But, you know, it's, I mean, somebody's got to do it. I kind of feel privileged I get to. So he just makes up the story. And then the precedent and then you hold that story and think, what do I... and we'll give you some tips on when you do with that story if you build it, but that's what we're gonna do. Because at the end of the day, Alan could be any of these three people happily, if he truly chose into it, and then that story tells him what that life is really like. Does it make sense? Great, okay, so let's do it. Again I try to see plan sheet. Now that energy over you don't need that yet. Don't worry about energy Odyssey plan. You got it too soon. That's right, Odyssey plan? Odyssey plan with all that stuff on it now, hopefully, if the back is blank, you're gonna write your narratives there. If there's not blank case, you will get you a piece of paper when you plug paper, raise your hand or do it in your journal. If you got a journal, or you are a journaling person, that's the best place to do it. So step one is very simple. Pick, we're gonna do this twice so you get to have two of your plans be narrated later on new to all of them, do more of them. So pick two plans you'd like to do the story for. Pick which of those two you want to do first, okay, just pick one. Now, we're doing guided imagination here. Imagine you are that person. I am living that life. Now, I'm not going to live it I am living in fact, I've been living it for two and a half years. It's late in 2019, you're trying to decide what Christmas presents to buy for people and can't wait till the celebration of the upcoming new year in 2020. You're living this way you're doing this work, who do you see? What's your lifestyle like? what time of day do you get up? Do you have a commute? If so, where? What are the issues you bump into all day? What's your favorite part of the week? What's that grindy stuff that you and everybody has to put up with in this life? How are your relationships? You're worried about money. Are you okay for money? How's that going? Just be that person. And then you bump into an old college roommate on the street. Oh my god, oh my god. (indistinct) I have not seen you in years. Oh, how the heck are you Derek? How's it going dude? It's going pretty good, sweet. What's the story? Get a minute or three, journal your response. What's the story? You've written your brief response and now we're just gonna do it again. Okay, so kind of wiggle a little bit so I get that straight (mumbles) Now, pick another one. One of your other plans. Jump down the page, turn the page, your journal or grab another sheet whatever might be. Now clear your head. You're just your regular self again and now I've picked plan the other, second plan. By the way, if you are back to looping back to the IQ, let's say like a one on one make a good solid objective decision, great. Third pass, this is extra credit homework. Go back through your narratives. And notice that those narratives are organized probably a little differently, one or the other, right? What's lurking behind your story or criteria, right? When I told the Alan stories a wide range of people... so apparently, so growing rapidly in technological edge, that's a value, high productivity, putting up a lot of products. So, I like this life because it is technologically advanced. I'm learning a lot of things, and I'm highly productive. I like this life because I'm socially aware in broad ranges of the human experience, there are criteria, nice objective listing bulletizing quantifiable Excel spreadsheet of bullet criteria, buried in your stories. And if you like lists, go get your list after your story. And then you can combine the two and see how they intersect. So have a meeting, have your IQ and your EQ sit down, have a conversation and help you make a good decision. So takeaways choose well to set yourself up to win. Don't agonize let go and move on. And remember, you choose your own story.

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