Why is it that whenever we meet someone for the first time, one of the first questions we ask to fill that fresh moment is “So, what do you do?”. I recall reading an article a while back, (I believe it was in Psychology Today) which challenged my thinking around this. This article stressed the importance of not having your job define who you are. The article also offered encouragement to approach each new encounter with a goal of finding out more about that person’s “story” and who they are as a character in their story. Afterall, isn’t life all about relationships?
A colleague of mine recently introduced me to an amazing book by Donald Miller entitled “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years“. This author has an incredible gift of helping the reader understand that life is just a good story, made up of many memorable parts. He also invites the reader to view themselves as a character who must encounter transformation in their journey – a character arc. Sometimes, a number of character arcs occur! As a character in your own personal life story, you must overcome conflict in order to attain what you want. Our lives are made up of a number of “mini-stories” which involve conflict we must overcome and incredible learning experiences along the way. I believe that each new challenge is just another opportunity to learn something new. New information. Or something new about yourself. Something new about your character.
As an educator, I believe we encounter many of these stories who help define “who we are” as characters in our life story. This book has inspired me to approach each new day as being another incredible gift to “add to my story”. When I meet new people, I’ve made it a personal goal to focus more on personal stories.
It has also encouraged me to reflect on the following questions, daily. I invite you to do the same.
- Who is the character I am creating in my story?
- What is it that I need to learn from the conflict of the day?
- What story do I want to tell the world?
- What story do I want my children to be able to tell the world?
Donald Miller ends his book with the following reflection:
If we want meaning in life, then live a good story. Propel yourself into noble adventure, endure difficult conflict for a cause greater than ourselves. Be a moral compass for others.
Speak a better story into the world!
How brightly a better story shines.
How easily the world looks to it in wonder.
How blessed are we who hear these stories.
And how happy it makes us to repeat them.
So tell me… what’s your story?