We all lead storybook lives. It’s just that some of the stories are real page-turning-barn-burners, while others are as ashen as the dust that blankets their covers. In every life there is a great story to be lived and told. We simply need to wipe away the fog of fear that keeps us from experiencing our epic.
I believe my story is somewhere in between: Not a classic yet, but not a snoozer either. This was made even more obvious to me after reading Donald Miller‘s book, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life.” My friend Margie Albert, knowing my compunction toward telling tales with both my ad agency and my life, thought this would be the perfect read. And she was right.
Miller’s premise is that we all have the capability of changing our life’s story. What role do we want to play, and how will our story be told when we’re dead? He’s living proof.
After becoming a successful writer, Miller found himself an eye-growing couch potato living a fairly ambitionless life in Portland, Oregon, until two screenwriters shook him out of his stupor by teaching him about the real power of “Story.” Miller learned he needed to begin a rewrite on his own life to bring more meaning to his time on Earth. He got his ass off the couch, got in shape, climbed the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, rode a bike across America to raise money for wells in Africa, and started the The Mentoring Project to help fatherless boys. His story also finds him in Obama’s task force on Fatherhood and Healthy Families.
My favorite passage:
“Once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”
I loved this book. It offers hope and inspiration by placing the pen squarely in our hands to rethink and rewrite our role as the protagonist. Epic stories are created from great scenes. Each of us walks onto a stage everyday, and we make the decision whether that scene is going to be compelling or not. The more inventive, adventurous, and brave we can be with our own scenes, the more remarkably our story will unfold.
11 of My Favorite Scenes in My Story (Not including the more private family stuff or the really scary chapters that are the seeds of my epic)
- I came into this world a storyteller as the fifth of seven kids
- My improbable story of survival during the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens
- Moved to Phoenix after graduating with degrees in music and communications from WAZZU; studies that later got me featured in this business book
- Act II, the love story with Michele, my wife of 22 years, and the mother of our three kids
- Opened Park&Co in 1995 to focus on sustainable marketing and storytelling
- Created the world’s largest water conservation campaign, which lead Michele and I to the island of Cyprus where we taught the Turks about activating conservation outreach through a U.S. AID program
- Worked with the Swedes in Skelleftea at BROKK to promote a safer and greener demolition technique
- Our idea of sustainable marketing was featured in Stanford University’s “Social Innovation Review” magazine, and in Philip Kotler’s college textbook, “Corporate Social Responsibility, Doing the most Good for Your Company and Your Cause”
- The greatest lesson I learned from hiking the Grand Canyon; still the single most spectacular trip our family has ever endeavored
- Being recognized as the 2010 “Ad Person of the Year” by my peers, which is really a nod to the brilliant, caring people that I am fortunate to be surrounded by in our pursuit of making the world a little bit better place
- Working with our creative team at Park&Co to launch HerHear.org, an online community that amplifies the voices and stories of the beaten, abused, hushed and hidden survivors of domestic violence.
I have so many more scenes ahead of me, and now, with Miler’s inspiration, I am living with greater intent to make my life’s story meaningful…warts and all.
What’s your story?