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How Our Stories Shape Us


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Key to understanding how to navigate conflict and stay in the Blue Zone is understanding how our personal stories shape us in profound ways. We live our lives according to certain scripts, many of them crafted in our childhoods. If we know and own those stories, we can live in the Blue Zone. If they remain unexamined, life in the Red Zone is nearly inevitable. This is an excerpt from our book in which one of the main characters must grapple with the story of his life.

“‘Bob, here’s the deal. All of us are telling a story with our lives. It may be a good story, a bad story, or a mediocre story. But every life is a story. And every story has a script. Most of us were given our scripts at a fairly young age, and we spend our lives either living them out or writing our own unique script.’

‘So we are living out this story, and then the story starts to contain expectations- in your case, expectations that you would take over your dad’s company and enjoy smashing success. But the problem is that those expectations collided with your script’.

Bob held up his hand. ‘Script? Story? Look, David, I appreciate your trying to help but personally I don’t speak the language of Hollywood. I live in a world of balance sheets. P&Ls, and  hard-nosed decisions with very little margin for error.  You’re going to have to help me relate here’.

Undeterred, David pressed on. ‘Your personal script says that you don’t measure up. That you might not have what it takes.  That you might do ‘fine’ but you will never be as successful as Michael. And that script – which you hate , but which you are living into – collided with the expectation that you are  supposed to take the company from strength to strength. I can only imagine the pain and anxiety this has created within you, Bob.’

‘There is a part of you that believes the script that says you don’t have what it takes. It says that is people knew you, they would know you are a fraud who is only in the position he’s in because he is his father’s son. This message about incompetence is a message that far too many people get in our culture, and we internalize it at a young age. I believe you have done that.’

Bob felt dizzy. Everything in him wanted to swat away what David was saying, but he remained silent.

‘Bob, I want you to consider the possibility that Michael represents that core message for you: that you are not a adequate, that you don’t have what it takes, that you are a fraud. You have excellent prowess as an interpreter of balance sheets and profit and loss statements but all of that pales in comparison to what you really believe deep down: that you are a fraud…’

‘Right now, you are transferring your fears and anxieties to Michael because that’s safer than facing them in yourself. your new strategy must be acknowledging these things in yourself and holding them up to the light where they can be seen for what they are'”.

What about you?
What does the script of your life say about you as a person – better, what is it TRYING to say?
Do you see ways in which the script of your life affects your actions in the present, especially in relational or professional conflict?

To read more of  Bob’s story, get the book here!