The Power of Story is a long (really long) but worthwhile book about defining your mission and purpose in life.
We recommend picking up a copy (audiobook) and reading and slowly implementing the concepts yourself over time, but here are some notes to serve as a reference once you’ve gone through the book (it’s long, and a lot of the concepts can be lost/forgotten by the time you’re through the book).
The first metaphor is the idea that our lives are stories. It’s an interesting metaphor in and of itself, given that most works of fiction are usually centred around character(s) and their lives. Thinking of life as a metaphor lets us reinterpret what we do – are we writing an epic novel with our daily actions, or will our lives simply be brief short stories without any plot and character development?
The other metaphor that Loehr introduced is that of a cruise missile. For the less-informed, cruise missiles are essentially guided missiles with the capability to course correct towards their targets. In the book, Loehr states that we are all cruise missiles launched at birth, with no destination or target in mind. It is up to us to determine through our mission, our goals and our daily actions whether we determine a trajectory and destination that we are aiming for, or if we’ll simply burn through our fuel and fall to the ground.
The most important concept introduced in The Power of Story (and the main reason we would recommend reading it) is that of the Ultimate Mission. Everyone has an Ultimate Mission.
Take a look at this photo of the Petronas Towers in KL:
Now imagine a plank suspended between the top levels of the towers. What mission, or objective, or purpose, would make you willing to walk across that plank?
That is your ultimate mission. It is the purpose of your life. It’s what you dream about when you go to sleep at night, and it’s what makes you excited to jump out of bed in the morning. Now we are not big fans of this “follow your passion” mumbo-jumbo that people like to throw around nowadays, but having a sense of mission and purpose will help you really focus on what is important in life, by cutting away all the BS that simply doesn’t matter. This alone, will make you magnitudes more productive than you were before.
Truth and Fiction
Another great concept that Loehr introduces is this question:
Is what you’re telling yourself about your life truth, or fiction?
Most people borrow stories and assumptions to apply to their own lives from fiction (literature, television, stories from friends etc). There are common themes to these stories – such as redemption, contamination (where an external forces messes up your life), and conspiracy (victim theory), but none of these themes are truth.
The truth about your life contains both the positive and negative, and is the result of the actions and decisions you make on a daily basis. The fiction that we tell ourselves about our life stories doesn’t come from us – it comes from the media, from religion, from society and from our education systems. None of those ideas were originally ours, they were imparted upon us from somewhere else – and we made the decision to adopt them.
It’s a revealing thought experiment to break down each of the stories that we tell ourselves on a daily basis and trace them back to their origins. It may surprise you (it most certainly surprised me when I did the exercise). For more, check out our series on Sex and Productivity.
BS Detection System
Loehr states that the only person who can call you out for the fiction you’re living is yourself. He calls it your “BS Detection System”. We happen to disagree. Good friends, especially those with an understanding of your mission, goals and objectives can be equally effective in telling you when you’ve strayed from your original intent.
How you talk to yourself shapes your stories, and subsequently your actions and decisions. Thanh wrote about this in a prior newsletter.
Embedding is Loehr’s way of learning new habits. He outlines a simple system that involves repetition, visualization, and weaving the habit into daily situations. This trifecta of reminders is actually a pretty effective way to formulate new habits and make them stick.
The Story Creation Process
We won’t give away the Story Creation Process in these notes, but will say that it’s a guided step-by-step way to look at your life, your mission and your stories, then to rewrite them, implement them and make them part of your life. Basically, you get to review, change and then rewrite what you want your “destiny” or future to look like.
We’ve talked about a lot of The Power of Story concepts in bits and pieces all over Asian Efficiency – we like the book that much. The most important parts of the book, by far, are the section on discovering and defining your Ultimate Mission (which is something a lot of people talk about but never actually define), and the Story Creation Process.
Photo by: capelle79