Hello MFJ Readers. This issue explores the unspoken and
unexamined "stories" that we are enacting both as
individuals and as collective members of larger groups. The
issue provides an interesting exercise to "reverse
engineer' the story you are enacting. The bottom line here is
this: a story you're unconscious of enacting cannot be changed.
Getting conscious of "your story" gives you power over
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Thanks for reading!
Story are you Enacting?
How much of your life
is directed from the foundation of unexamined mythology?
What if we are all enacting some
sort of story in our lives?
Now what do I mean by story? I mean that we have some
vision, set of ideas, or beliefs about ourselves that define us
as a central character in what could be called a
"myth" or "story" that we're living out. All
of the elements of the story have been either passed down as
part of our culture or upbringing,
intuited, or we've just plain made up. We then go about enacting
our stories as if it they were true, thus embodying the script
from which we live our lives.
So now you may say, "yes I can certainly buy that, I'm very
well aware that we are a product of our own thoughts and
beliefs. So what's the big deal?"
The big deal is this. The vast majority of us don't know that
we're enacting a story. We actually think this is real life
that we're living! (see the movie Matrix for a great metaphor).
By real life, I mean that we're approaching life based on a set
of assumptions that aren't necessarily backed by good evidence.
So when you don't know that you're enacting a story, you are
completely at its mercy with little control over the role you
play and the course it takes.
The story we enact often comes to us piecemeal and/or
non-verbally. It may include the stuff we "read between the
lines," and unexamined assumptions. If you were to examine
each single element of your story by itself, it might appear
obvious to you, even if you'd never articulated it before. If
all the elements, however, were collected and given voice so
that they were presented to your conscious awareness, you might
be very surprised at what you find. In fact, you may be shocked
to the point you would want to forget the story entirely.
Now to make matters even more complicated, in addition to
enacting our own individual stories, we are also part of stories
which are bigger than us. We are enacting stories within our
relationships with individuals, and the groups we are involved
in, such as our families, work groups, community organizations,
our countries, etc. Even our civilization itself is acting out a
story, much of which we may not even be aware.
As a facilitator, you will encounter groups who are troubled,
often because they are enacting an unexamined story whose course
they feel powerless to alter. Helping them unravel their story
will grant them power over it. In other words, until you know
you're an author, you cannot change what you're writing.
I propose that we will enact
whatever story we choose to adopt as our own, and will settle
for the best one available. If we don't take the time to create
a better one, we'll continue enacting our current story, even if
it isn't working all that well for us.
Discover your story.
Whether you're working with a group or an individual, ask them
to assume they're enacting a story. Now based on this
assumption, have them uncover the elements of their story. Ask
them to be detectives, hunting for clues. Looking at their
behaviors alone, have them describe the story they are living,
piece by piece, until the "whole" story emerges.
Evaluate your story.
Now have them assess their story. Ask them if this is a story
they are happy with. What would they change, remove, or add to
this story if it was ideal? Help the group come to consensus on
the authoring of the grandest story they can envision. A story
that inspires every member of the group.
Tell your story.
Facilitate a commitment from all group members to begin
sharing their new story amongst themselves and with other
important people in their lives. Encourage individuals to talk
about their specific role in the story and why it appeals to
them. The more they talk about their new story, the more it will
become a part of them.
Rehearse your new role.
Finally, encourage individuals to commit to living their new
role in some way. Ask them to commit to making a change or
changes in alignment with the new story they wish to enact.
Assign a "narrator" for the group that will report the
unfolding of the new story each week. The group may even assign
a "story time" where they explore what kind of changes
are taking place and the challenges that are showing up as they
attempt to enact this new story.
Explore how your new story fits into the bigger story of your
family, organization, corporation, country, and world.
Your new story may be at odds with the bigger story in which
your particular group resides. Explore the contribution to the
bigger story your new one can make. Explore any obstacles
presented by this bigger story and refine yours if necessary so
that it isn't overpowered or subverted by the bigger one.
Remember, you are the authors and you can write it any way you
wish. You're only limited by your imaginations!
the above exercise either with yourself, looking at your own
life as a story you're enacting, or with one of your groups. I'd
love to hear what happens for you. Please email
me your comments.
This is one of my favorite
books of all time. Though couched in a fictional account between
a teacher (Gorilla) and student (man), this book will change you
if you let it. It explores the unspoken story that our
civilization has been enacting for the past 10,000 years that is
taking us to the brink of extinction. It is a lesson in critical
thinking, history, ecology, theology, and philosophy that will
turn your world on its ear.
What is your favorite "exercise" as a facilitator?
This week, we're asking you share with us your favorite
experiential exercise you've either delivered or experienced as
a facilitator or as a participant.
descriptions of exercises you've found useful in your work. I'll send the entire collection
to those who contribute.