Historian or Futurist?


We seem to like history, especially our own history.

Our history was created through a series of events. We get comfortable telling that story. We have told that story many times. We keep telling that story. We like telling that story.

The pain, the struggle, the successes, the joy.

But those things happened in the past, they are not currently happening.

We keep telling that story.

We are the historian. We gather the crowd around us, and take them on the tour. We rehearsed the lines, know when to pause, and draw them in.

But the crowd eventually fades. The story is old. Tickets are unsold.

But there is something else.

Something different and new.

We can become a futurist.

The futurist tells a new story.

The futurist is setting new goals.

The futurist is moving forward.

The futurist understands past events, but not through a distorted lens of over-emphasis or limits.

The futurist embraces today while envisioning something better.

The futurist is creating.

The futurist is risking.

The futurist is living.

We have a choice to make: remain the historian, or become a futurist.




A New Story

We all have a story.

There are events that shaped us, helped us, or hurt us.

These events shaped our story.

We tend to tell others this story, intentionally or not.

But time and new events also create a story.

Maybe we are stuck in an old story.

And the old story likes being told.

The old story wants top billing, even if that show hasn’t played in years.

“I don’t have close friends who connect with me.”

While out with a group of friends who are trying to connect.

“I was never good in school.”

While getting your Masters’ Degree with honors.

“I will never be able to do the more challenging work.”

While being asked to be part of projects and initiatives. 

As this New Year begins, maybe we need a new story.

But in order for this new story to be told, we need to let go of the old story.

The new story is waiting to be told.

A new story that reflects where we are heading.

A new story that doesn’t miss what is happening right now.

The Hero’s Journey

“Why should I watch these movies? How many hours are these? That is a lot of time to commit.”

“Yeah, I know. But there is something about it that seems important.”

Trying to explain the impact, importance, and the journey of watching a classic story like the Lord of the Rings trilogy to someone who has not read the books or viewed the 9 to 12 hours of movies can feel almost impossible.

However, this story follows Joseph Cambell’s Hero’s Journey that makes up most the classic stories that seem to resonate with us. These are the stories that are told for generations.

Instead of trying to explain the Hero’s Journey, just watch this Short Video by Iskander Krayenbosch from Leiden, Netherlands. Nice work Iskander!

These stories begin with ordinary people being called out of an ordinary world, into a world that is large, filled with peril, and they are filled with doubt and fear. Ultimately, the hero overcomes fear and gets the reward, and is changed.

To make the case for watching these films, I sent a video along with one of the greatest moments of fear, doubt, peril, and ultimately triumph from a seemingly underrated hero.

In a strange coincidence, I was in a meeting within the next hour. During the meeting there was music playing in the background. Not just any music, but the soundtrack from the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings.

Somehow the memories, the journey, and the story was weaving its way into my day again. The music and memory cocktail made this meeting feel like the start of an epic story, with a hero that is being calling into a larger world, but will face doubts, fears, and setbacks, and ultimately will change the world and themselves in the process.

The handful of people I originally watched these movies with are still close and in my circle. We spent many hours together, and although didn’t actually go on that specific quest of trying to destroy a ring, have had quests of our own.

We felt ordinary.

We felt like we were thrust into a larger world.

We doubted ourselves.

We had setbacks.

We stood together.

We triumphed.

If Joseph Campbell was right, all great stories follow the same pattern. The resonance may be our own desire to live a story worth reading.

How will your story read?

Mourning the loss of who you thought you would be

cemetery 8

(Image Courtesy of the Great Robin Lake)

We start out in life thinking we are going to be a certain thing.

We make plans. We make choices. We move in a direction. We become invested in who we are going to be.

Sometimes dreams don’t work out. Plans change. Choices are made. Sometimes we fail. Maybe we succeed at different things. Our journey took us in interesting directions, and the people we met and experiences we had created forks in the road. We took some of those forks.

We are “here” today, right where we ended up. Not to say that “here” is a bad place.

In some ways “here” is better than we expected, in other ways maybe not as good.

However, there was a lot of us in the original plan. It was part of our story. Part of our narrative about who we were, and how we described ourselves.

And if, as I recently realized about my own original plan, it was wrapped up in a healthy (or unhealthy) dose of ego and pride, part of it remains with us years or decades later.

A few recent events triggered some interesting emotions surrounding an old plan. What I thought was long gone, had just been lying dormant. The freshness of the ego and pride associated with these events caught me a little off guard.

But I had to ask,

“Why are these emotions still here years later?”

“These plans, or goals are long dead, how did they return?”

It was in asking the questions that the answer came into focus.

Long dead.

What do we do when someone or something dies? We mourn.

Mourn:to feel regret or sadness about (the loss or disappearance of something).

When we don’t mourn, losses remain.

Even when we move forward, un-mourned losses lay dormant.

I never took the time to mourn the loss of who I thought I would be. Life moved forward, the plans changed. Life turned out better than the original plan.

But the un-mourned losses remained.

Where has your life taken you? Where have your plans changed, and your dreams shifted?

Where should you be mourning the loss of who you thought you would be?

Mourn. And may mourning help you move forward in your journey.

Their Own Role In Their Story


(Image Courtesy of soulseeds.com)

During the final session of a five-part series with leaders, we asked them to create an intentional leadership plan and present it to the rest of the group. Each leader tackled the greatest challenge before them in the next year, and described how they were going to make progress.

This can be an intimidating group. They are the top in their field. They have accomplished a lot. They are all viewed by each other as very successful.

Many outlined how knowing themselves helped lay the foundation for this project. Some had slides and handouts. Others simply stood up and talked. All were open about their own weaknesses.

It was the weaknesses that resonated with me the most. These leaders were pretty hard on themselves. At times, the group would interrupt the presenter, just to encourage them and remind them how incredible they really were, despite those weaknesses.

I was having a conversation with one of them afterwards.

“It’s funny, we see others strengths, and our own weaknesses filtered through some insecurity.”

They replied with something that stuck with me.

“Totally, though I was surprised at some people’s inability to see their own role in their story, including me.”

Their own role in their story. It is so easy to see others as strong, courageous, determined and successful, while discounting yourself.

We see their strengths, but know our weaknesses.

We see their success, but see our failures.

We hear their words, but hear our inner voice.

Where have you discounted your own role in your story? Where have you focused on your weaknesses, while forgetting the strengths?

You have an important role to play in your story and your life.

If you could only see yourself the way we see you. You’d be surprised at how strong and courageous you really look.

Keep Your Story Fresh

“What do you do with all that random information?”

A close friend asked me the other day. I must have been spouting off about some random facts that I had learned, but the details today escape me.

Apparently, my habit of trying to learn everything about anything I can get my hands on can be a little annoying if you are on the receiving end of my latest rant.

Within a week, during a routine drive time conversation with another close friend they experienced a question from a colleague after presenting to a large group.

“How do you know all that random information that you somehow weave into your presentation?”

“I need to keep my story fresh” they replied.

Those words resonated.

I need to keep my story fresh.

If we are going to stay relevant, current and in demand the old stories won’t do.

We have to learn, grow, develop, and stay teachable.

The seemingly random facts.

The new interactions.

The new class.

The new book.

The new experience.

They all join together to keep your story fresh.

To my first friend, I finally have the answer about my random rants and continual need to devour any information that comes my way.

“I am keeping my story fresh.”

To my second friend, thanks for the words we all needed to hear.