Simple Story Model
We're in the home stretch, y'all, which is a metaphor, 'cause I didn't say 'like a home stretch'. That's a little refresher for you, as we jump back in. So we're gonna go into a model now. And this model for storytelling is gonna be a simple model you can port anywhere. I like this model. There's lots of models for stories. I like this model because it's the simplest one I could find. It's the one that helps me think through, when I'm like 'Ah I wanna tell a story, but I don't really know how to tell it'. If I work through this it's got a rule of three in it, and it's simple, so you can do it fast. And I'm gonna ask us to do some work with model quickly. And then we're gonna apply this model to a larger topic you wanna influence on in your life. It could be professional but it could also be personal. Something you want to have happened. So that's where we're heading, but to start let's get into the model so we have something to work with. The basic model we're gonna work with today, is...
challenge, choice, outcome. Challenge, choice, outcome. I want you to drill this in your head, say it along with me. Challenge, choice, outcome. Because if you forget and you're anywhere in the world, and you've gotta tell a story, you can just literally remember challenge, choice, outcome. Write those words out and then plot your story inside of that. And it will help you. It's so easy. So it's got three parts to it, but there's really a fourth part, as well. And kinda a fifth part, but the fifth part's not really... That's the character. Now most often if you're gonna be telling a story, at least in this course, it's gonna be you're the character. But in fact, you don't need to tell a story about you as the character. You can tell a story about someone else, that will then illustrate your point. Often stories about ourselves are more powerful, because people get to know you, and people can get to know you by the story you choose to tell sometimes. So, anyway. You start with who, what's the point of it, who's the character, you do need to know who that is. I'm gonna ask you for this, for the purposes here to think through a story of yourself, 'cause that is a good place to start and it'll give you a lot of power in a lot of situations. I'm gonna break my own rule but I'll come back to it later and I'll tell you why. So within challenge, okay there's a character and let's say that's you, and you're humming along in life and all of a sudden something happens. Something emerges, there's a challenge now. Your boss says, you can only pick one of these, which are you going to pick in your career? There's your challenge. Okay, then you have to then... 'Then you have to then'. (laughs) You have to make a choice at that point, or the character has to make a choice. When you're telling the story, you can let the person know, the audience know, I could've chose this, I could've chose that, but I chose this. Or you could just say, here's what I chose. Based on that choice, there was an outcome. That choice led to something happening. And based on what you choose, for that model, of what the challenge is, of what the choice was and what the outcome is, there's a lesson inherent in that. So sometimes, you can guess the lesson by just based on the challenge, choice and outcome. Sometimes it's really helpful for the other person to tell you what the lesson is, 'cause many stories can have multiple lessons. And the specific lesson that you want them to receive should be communicated to them. And often if you have the lesson very clear, and you can communicate that, that allows us a jumping off point to talk about something extra, something next. Maybe what you want to have happened right now based on that lesson. So I'm gonna tell you, I'm gonna give you an example of this using my favorite movie, Top Gun. Now is it my favorite because I think it's the best movie of all time, no. It's just the movie, that I watched the most growing up, which I'll come back to more later. So the basic, you can basically, you can take the basics of any story, and break it into this model. And you can use more information, more depth, or take a piece of the story and use it, and simplify. I'm gonna tell you a very simplified version of the movie, Top Gun. And the basic story is: There's this character, his name is Tom Cruise, or Maverick in the movie. He's cruising along, things are going well. He's in the Top Gun Academy, means you're one of the best Navy fighter pilots in the United States Navy. Now, he's kinda a rogue and a rebel, but he's doing pretty good, and the guy that keeps him on track, that's his partner, Goose. And what happens is they're on a training mission and Maverick kinda screws something up and because of that, Goose gets killed. And that's a very sad part of the movie. So what happens after that is, Maverick goes into a tailspin, but then the Russians come and the Russians are challenging our air space so we have to scramble our pilots out to beat the Russians. And our best pilot is Maverick, but he's not able to fly because he's grieving Goose. He hasn't gotten over Goose. So what happens is they don't trust him, and they don't send him out. But then, the people that get sent out get into trouble, so they have to send Maverick out anyway, even against their wishes. Against their better judgment they're gonna send him out there to help his buddies. So Maverick gets out there, and he freezes. He's up in the sky, his friends are in peril and he has that moment of panic where he can't engage the enemy because he's too broken up over Goose. And then, there's the crescendo and the breakthrough, and he decides, screw it, I'm gonna engage and help my friends. And he gets in the fight and of course the Russians get beaten away. They either get shot down or they run away. So that's the basic challenge, choice and outcome of Top Gun. I think that's the crux of it. And part of the outcome is they beat the Russians, and part of the outcome is he gets the girl. Always gotta have that part of it, right? Or the girl gets the guy, that's the way we do that. Or whoever is the romantic interest. So what is the lesson, if you had to guess? What is the lesson from that story?
I just can't stop thinking about the 'Volleyball Scene'. (Instructor laughs) I think the lesson would be, that you can overcome your fears even in the face of serious pressure.
Yeah, like there's this adverse, something negative happens to us that we didn't ask for, and it may traumatize us even a little bit, but then you can overcome the trauma that you experience, to be the person that you had the potential to be. You can become your highest self, even in the face of serious adversity and trauma. Now, Top Gun is maybe a little more silly, but that lesson can be applied to a bunch of different stories. Is there any other lesson that, how would you phrase it a little bit differently? That was pretty much right, that's the kind of lesson to me, that really matters to me about that story. So that's an example of challenge, choice, and outcome. Now if I asked you to retell it, you probably could basically tell me what the challenge was, what the choice he ended up making was, and what the outcome was, 'cause I made it pretty simple. And that's all we're asking, just follows that model. There's a narrative form, there's a lesson at the end. Please do this for your story. I want you to pick a story of any key moment in your life. Any key story from your life. And I want you to quickly plot out, the challenge, the choice and outcome, and then what the lesson would be. Again these are like little phrases or bullets. Go ahead and do it right now. Pick the easiest story from your life. Easiest moment. Something you've told a bunch of times, something you know really well. And it's just... Who's the character. It's probably you. What was the challenge in that situation? And in the work books, there is sort of space to fill that out, on lines if you wanna follow the structure. Online, if you have the workbook, you can follow along there or you can just kinda write out the header: challenge, choice, outcome, lesson. There's a challenge, you make a choice, that choice has an outcome and what is the meaning of that? That's the point of that story? What should I get out of it? And if you're having trouble with the lesson, just be aware that there might be multiple lessons. And so just choose one. Don't think about it too much. If the lesson needs to be improved, we can help you with that. And as you're filling out, think about writing less and more having keys for you to tell it, 'cause you're not gonna want to read a story usually. We're talking about oral story telling in this case. So you wanna give yourself keys, we talked about those strategic anchor points. So just be drafting anchor points for each. That's gonna really help. I'm gonna give you about fifteen more seconds to wrap it up. And then I just wanna hear one, just to make sure we're on the same page, and so we all can learn along together on what went well, and maybe what we can improve as we go forward to a more impactful story. Is someone willing to share theirs? Kinda ready and willing?
Yeah, Andy, cool.
So I grew up in Hawaii and most people don't know this, but Hawaii is about 25% Caucasian. And, it's a lot better now but when I was growing up there was definitely hatred and discrimination against Caucasians and so I'm one of the only white people I know who got severely discriminated against for the color of my skin. So my story is, or my challenge is: I couldn't ride the school bus in middle school, because I'd be beat up because of the color of my skin. My choice was to not engage with that hatred. My outcome was that middle school is just a crazy time for everyone with hormones and stuff and come high school that type of violence decreased a lot. So the not engaging kept me safe and the not fighting and the tension dissipated as everyone got older. My lesson is I'm really grateful for that experience. I mean, how many white people can say that, so I tell that story often. Because I think it's really difficult with racial tensions to understand. We can have compassion but you can't walk in other people's shoes but I actually have.
That's great. Thank you for sharing that story.
I would say also, what I heard in your story, a lesson that might be very portable for you is that: you can't, it's less effective to fight hate with more hate, it just creates more hate. You neutralized hate by not engaging with it, or maybe even sometimes, being, staying loving. And sometimes being loving is avoiding not going towards it, but that's a lesson that could jump off to many other points you might wanna make. So there can be multiple lessons, not the lesson you said is wrong, it's more like you can think about other, what other lessons, there might even be more lessons than that even too, if we kept going with that. That's perfect, that's how simple it is, right? So if we wanted to supercharge that story, we could then take that structure and we could extend that story out. You could add a lot more richness and detail and super-words, and metaphors and similes. But right now that was perfect, because we just wanna hear the structure. It's very clear what her story is. So perfect. That's all we're looking for right now is so we understand that's what we want to make our story about. That's enough anchor points to not get lost, and then we can build on that scaffolding. Would anyone else like to share theirs quickly?
Yeah, Amber, thank you.
Hi, mine's a tough one. So to give some background on myself, I joined the U.S. army and I was going through basic training, and I came to a moment. To give you a little background, we had just gone through our gas chamber and we were really really tired. We have about a, I think, three mile walk back afterwards. And we got back and we thought we were done for the day. Our first sergeant wasn't impressed with our performance and so it came down to four hours of push-ups, mount-climbers, pack up your stuff, pitch your tents, take down your tent, put away your stuff. And through this moment, I'm doing push-ups and I started to tear up and I was just starting to get really weak, and a soldier next to me, who was good friends with me, she's like 'Come on Anderson, you can do this, you're the strongest woman I know. If you give up, I'll give up.' And so I kept going and made the choice to not stop. I didn't want to disappoint my drill sergeants. And I think the lesson I learned is that I had an impact on someone and if I would've stopped at that point, she would have stopped. Who knows, maybe other soldiers around her would have stopped. And I think the other lesson, was 'just keep going, even when the going gets tough'.
Beautiful, can we get a round of applause for that? Sorry, thank you for sharing that. (Applause) Thank you for sharing that. And you could see is, as things get emotional, we have two very emotional stories, we're all riveted by that in that moment. We really know these people better now and can connect with them. And I'd say for your lesson, the first lesson there, just to try to make it a little pithier for you, so you can port it and use it over and over again, is to say something like: Our impact can be bigger than we know. You might hear one tenth of the impact you actually have in this world, or a hundredth, or a thousandth of it. You heard it from one person but if you hadn't done it, what would've been the cascading effect if you had backed off of that in that moment? So just something like that, would help you, you could then port that and then link it to something else. I love it. It's beautiful, so simple. And you can see the character is her, the challenge that happened in that moment, and her choice and what the outcome was. And we even heard in there what the outcome could have been if we didn't do that. It's sort of like, giving us both. Putting that in relief, that's really great.