How our choices impact our stories
Our current decisions lead to the future stories we’ll tell about our lives and businesses. What story are you writing?
Two weeks ago my husband, Matt, and I surprised my 18-year-old brother with his first big hiking trip to Yosemite National Park. (If you’re thinking about going there, shoot me an email! I have lots of thoughts on what went well and what didn’t go so well).
We spent a couple days “roughing” it (although we really were just glamping). I think my husband and brother called me a “diva” a few times on our trip. But here’s the truth: I just don’t like sleeping on two-inch-thick mats with spiderwebs looming over my head. I don’t love sneaking out at 2 a.m., clutching bear spray in my right hand, to use the restroom.
One night, the few options we had for food were slim to none. It was freezing outside and we didn’t want to wait in line for an hour or more for an overpriced pizza. So we went to a tiny convenience store, which was basically a gas station without the gas pumps, and decided to find dinner there.
We spent that night eating “dinner” at a picnic table under the stars, headlamps illuminating our loot, the shadows of the granite walls surrounding us. We giggled over our meals, which weren’t really meals. My brother Isaac bought himself a big bag of broccoli, a box of pop tarts, and a bottle of ranch. He nearly finished his entire bag of broccoli before we stopped him (“We have to sleep in the same tent with you later!”). Matt coughed as he stomached his microwavable Asian noodles. (“It’s sustenance,” he said). I picked at my salad kit, bragging at what felt like a far better meal than what the boys scrounged up.
Looking back, that awful dinner was one of my favorite memories from our trip.
Even though I’m not much of a camper, we don’t invest in fussy vacations that feel luxurious, because luxury doesn’t create stories. Luxury doesn’t lead to eating broccoli for dinner as we laugh until our stomachs hurt. As much as I longed for a bed and clean shower for the three nights we spent inside the park, looking back, I wouldn’t have traded our little glamping tent for a five-star hotel with continental breakfast.
My point is this: without even realizing it, I make decisions based on the stories I’ll be able to tell in the future. What’s a cooler story? I ask myself. Renting a nice, manageable apartment, or pouring our sweat and tears into an old fixer-upper cabin by the lake?
As humans, we gravitate towards the choices that include more work, more difficulty – because the best stories are created from adversity.
Maybe for you, decisions you’re making about your current situation have nothing to do with memories and stories you’ll be able to tell around a fire 15, 20, 40 years from now. Maybe I’m weird.
But I like to think we’re all a little weird, because we all know how much story matters, and we all know that how we live now determines the types of stories we’ll be able to tell in the future.
What type of story are you writing? What type of story is your business writing?
Is there a little adversity mixed in? Are you “roughing it” a little bit?
That’s a good thing.