I think I had a lightning bolt moment this week—a second of pure genius that will simultaneously put every fortune teller out of business, put some dollars in your pocket, and a smile on your face (from time to time).
Let me explain.
I’m a big believer in the power of storytelling. A great film, a compelling play, or an engaging speech can change the lives of millions in ninety minutes or less.
These forms of media are quite accessible and available at the click of a button or swipe of a credit card. We hear about them through advertisements and through word-of-mouth from friends.
But it’s not often we spend time looking at or listening to one of the most beautifully written and magnificent stories one could ever tell—that is the story of our future self.
On a personal level I spend time with two very extremes on the spectrum of life—1) People who are working hard, making things happen for themselves, who feel in charge of their destiny no matter how close or far away they feel themselves to be from their life’s goals; and 2) People who may or may not work hard, but who feel as if they have zero control of their destiny and that their lives and goals are entirely conditional to the current state they find themselves in.
I happen to love some people in the second category, but it breaks my heart to know that they don’t understand how much power they have to influence their future.
People can’t be forced into realizing their own power—they can only be led to it and even then, they have to find it and understand it on their own.
Just a wee bit more preface to the lightning bolt moment
The power of storytelling: In the past three years I’ve done a bit of life coaching, business/project coaching and consulting, written a book, done my one-man play in more than sixty locations across the US and Canada, and made hundreds of new, and life long friendships. And all of that is made possible by storytelling—not only the things you tell yourself during the course of your day, but the things you write down in the weeks, months, and years prior to the day you’re in.
So here we are at the lightning bolt. This week I’m doing a little prep work for a class I’m supposed to teach for a entrepreneur friend on “monetizing your passion project.” Most of it’s just going to be me gabbing away but I need to come up with some kind of class activity. But what kind of activity could I possibly give these early-stage business-owner students that could keep them engaged and productive in class, and leave them feeling changed and empowered to take action after class? (Like, zoinks, Scooby!)
Duh—a writing exercise. Essentially it’s The Good News Project, meets a bit of fortune telling, with a little bit of creative writing thrown in the mix.
It’s roughly a thousand words written in twenty-five minutes that foretells a future you want to see for yourself. The first paragraph is a quick intro about who you are and what you do (or what you’re all about). The middle few paragraphs should not be about you but someone else—a person who’s benefitted from the actions your future self has taken (could be a business, philanthropy, or a new attitude). The second to last paragraph should be about what you learned or an insight gained from the positivity someone else received because of your future self. The last paragraph will be left blank—a conclusion, something to be written once you’ve gained perspective after set into motion, actions to achieve this future outcome you desire.
The exercise is the beginning of what will be a series of actions that sets the writer on a long and winding course toward the life they wish to create for themselves.
I actually created this little exercise for myself once. It was in March, 2011 after a long bout of debilitating clinical depression. The writing exercise I gave myself wasn’t as structured as what I set out above, but I outlined what I wanted out of life. Slowly, piece by piece the things I wanted started coming to fruition.
Feel free to take on the same writing exercise (or come to the class my buddy has me doing on 3/29/14 at 1030am).
Stay the course and watch your prognostications come true. One of the cooler things you’ll find as your story comes to life—you’ll have many more stories to tell about the next chapters of your life… and your abilities to predict the future will get better and better.
We need your help! After a three year, sixty city tour we're bringing our "Little Engine that Could" The Gospel According to Josh back to the biggest stage in the world: New York City, Off-Broadway in May 2014. We're using the Off-Broadway run to raise awareness and funds for suicide prevention and mental health services. Please consider donating to our IndieGoGo campaign (HERE) to help bring this back to NYC and help save lives.
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