Passive Narrative vs. Intentional Narrative: Who’s writing your story?

The world you live in is different from mine.  That’s not code for socioeconomic status, marital status, or any other situational “thing”.

Your world is seen through a filter guided by a narrative you are creating.

We all tell ourselves stories about the world.  I wrote an article last year about a marketing tactic that made me angry.  The local grocery store printed an unusually low price with a large font price printed for its wine. Below the price in a barely legible font size, are the words “when you buy 4”.  Just below, printed in the same font is the price for 1 bottle; much higher.  The same store has added 12 packs of premium beer to this tactic.  I see this and immediately lose trust.  I see the store trying to “trick” me.  My internal voice starts to update my “narrative”.  It’s like Jimminy Cricket teaching me the ways of life.  Mr. Cricket tells me that customers are so savvy these days.  Costco, Bevmo, and even Amazon are all undercutting local grocers and each other.  Wine still costs to produce, ship, and market.  The stores MUST find ways to get savvy customers to pay more for wine.  This tactic must work since they keep doing it.  My lovely wife, Jamie,  sees this exact situation but has a completely different conclusion.  Her narrative, her “Jamie-ney Cricket”, tells her a story of kindness and opportunity.  She sees the store working hard to find opportunities for the customer to save money.  “Unfortunately they can’t pass savings on for just 1 bottle, but who needs just 1 bottle of a good wine anyway?”

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

Your narrative forms your outlook on life.  It passively changes through experience over time.  Someone blessed with opportunity and seemingly constant fortune and good luck will most likely have a much more positive narrative than the hardened, out of work, disabled war veteran.
This blog and your life are not about living “passive lives”.  Your success, your “awesome” comes from “intentional living”.  You can change your narrative, thus changing  your attitude.  I have decided to make 2014 the year I get intentional about changing my narrative.  Here is a list of 3 things I am doing to re-write my story:
  1. Loose the victim status. Read my article on characters to learn more.  I simply change the subject internally as the victim starts to show up.  While this is not always easy, it has already started to change my view on things.
  2. I am re-writing stories about people/companies I had negative thoughts about.  Being angry at the grocer over wine prices is a waste of time and energy.  It is reasonable that Jamie’s point of view is actually legitimate.  It is certainly a better story than mine.  Anyhow, what’s really the worse that can happen?  I pay 3 bucks more for a 12 pack of beer.  It’s still great beer.
  3. Re evaluate my influences.  I’ve hear it said that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.  Often times I get negative or gossipy and realize that I am the instigator.  Sometimes its the other person.  Usually a re direction of the conversation changes the mood.  It really works the same with other people as it does in your own narrative.
You tell yourself multiple stories everyday.  As you seek to achieve the awesomeness we both know you were meant to, you must be in control of the “pen”.  Your story must be one in which you win, learn from mistakes, and are worthy of the task at hand.  Start with a positive story about the world around you.  A positive “you” will attract more positive people.  We know from experience (and this post) that it’s much harder to be positive than negative.  This means that positive people are working hard, living intentionally, and can bring that “average of 5” up a bit.
Think about 2 things in your world that you believe to be true because that’s your story.  Shake it up a little and question the characters in that narrative.  Start simple (like Target is better than Walmart).  Dig a little deeper as things become more clear to you.  Share your thoughts.
Rocco
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My Frog Won’t Boil

Have you heard the story about boiling a frog? The story goes: a  frog put into heated water will jump out immediately.  But a frog placed in room temperature water that is slowly heated, will not notice the temperature change and be boiled to death. This is a great metaphor, and of course a  lie. Are you kidding me? Of course the frog will jump out!  Only PEOPLE are dumb enough to stay in a boiling pot of water. Joseph Overton’s theory, known as the Overton Window, is a frog boiling.  Only the frog is you and I.  The Overton window describes society’s narrow window of acceptance of certain things as norms or extremes. American society shuttered at the idea of a two piece swimsuit or a TV show with one bed for the married couple to sleep in. Even TV’s Murphy Brown becoming a single mom in 1991 was noteworthy.

Today Paris Hilton stops short of having sex with a Carl’s Jr cheeseburger on prime-time TV.  This makes no news.  It isn’t news.

From an adulterous President, to drug abusing sports stars, American society has expanded the Overton window.  In fact, the window is a giant bay window opened as far as the eye can see.

English: Ad for I Love Lucy pajamas.

English: Ad for I Love Lucy pajamas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What does this mean to you? We are not in the business of ranting and complaining about things we can’t change.  We are in the awesome and success business.  The Overton Window refers to public sentiment and opinion.  It is not a claim for moral relativism.  Overton never intended to give judgement on these changes, just observe the gradual acceptance of things once otherwise shunned. History tells us that public opinion and morality are not always aligned.  Public opinion, in fact, is not  permanent.  I’m sure 1930’s German public opinion looked a lot different than public opinion in 1950. Truth with a capital “T” does not change.  Neither does right or wrong.  The gradual opening of Overton’s Window is cunning and will surprise you.

Define your values and remain true.

If you know your True North, your moral compass will always point there.  Be sure to check that compass every week during your weekly review and keep it calibrated. Awesomeness is not being perfect. You will fall short of your True North.  The Overton Window will let in some air on the thought that your mistakes are fine.  It’ll tell you that rules governing morality, giving, and sacrifice are outdated.  It will boil you! You, in your awesomeness will acknowledge that you fall short of your goal, but the problem (thus opportunity to improve) lays upon you and not the norm.  That is awesomeness!

What do you accept today that was outrageous 30 years ago?

Rocco De Leo

Intentional Perspective

Perspective is a valuable gift.  It is also a skill you can and must develop.

You have a purpose much greater than making more money.

Perspective (graphical)

Perspective (graphical) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That may be a goal, a side effect of your achievement.  As you inch toward awesomeness, or maybe just defining what your awesome looks like, you may hear whispers of self-doubt.  I wrote a post on this very subject.   One tool you must sharpen is perspective.  This morning, I received an invitation to attend an urgent conference call with my team.   Immediately I focused on myself. Who is on the call? Layoffs? Is this going to affect ME? It turns out a colleague tragically lost her husband in a car accident and that message needed to be properly delivered to the team.  Beyond the crushing sorrow I feel for my colleague, I was given the gift of perspective. While I balance the natural tendency to think of how things impact me first, I desire to be more outwardly focused. That will lead me to my awesome and will lead you to yours. Anytime I realize I have a weakness, I get intentional about working on it.  I have put together a small list to help develop the skill of perspective.  Start with these 3 things and move forward:

1. What truly matters:  For most of us, this is family, NOT work.  Family loves you, work doesn’t. Do something positive today with your family. A great side effect of achieving awesomeness and realizing purpose, is this perspective becomes much more clear as you approach your goal . If your “success” distorts this perspective, you are moving in the wrong direction.
2. God’s unconditional love: God loves you no matter what you do.  He suffered and died for you and would have done the same thing if you were to be the only person to ever exist. He wants you to be happy and has given you skills and desires to achieve great things.  God is a pretty connected kind of guy, so don’t ever doubt the power of prayer and his ability to partner with you for fulfillment.

The ultimate goal, after all, is does not have a zip code and as of yet has no LTE or wifi.

3. You have grown: I always enjoy looking at old pictures.  The ones of me as a kid are cool, but the ones that really make me cringe are the ones that are about 8 to 10 years old.  They aren’t too old to be a “lifetime ago”, but they are old enough to remind me of changes (good and bad) that I have made.  Look through some old pictures and identify 3 positive changes (lost weight, better haircut, prettier girlfriend now, etc).  Make sure you focus at least 2 to 1 on positive verses negative changes.  Make sure you celebrate the positive changes and decide if the negative changes need attention.

Unwrap the gift of perspective and realize your potential.  How has your perspective changed in the last year?

Rocco De Leo

You Are An Impostor And Everyone Is Going To Find Out

In a recent  movie, Batman was called upon to “sacrifice” himself to save Gotham city from a ruthless and powerful tyrant hellbent on exploding a nuclear device in the middle of the city.  Superman will soon be on the silver screen again saving the world from assured destruction.  Who can forget ‘Spidey” flying around saving the pretty girl on flying skateboards?  Who is Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, or Peter Parker? These guys are my hope on my struggle from mediocrity into awesomeness.

Runaway

Runaway (Photo credit: Cayusa)

As a man wearing many masks (Dad, full-time employee, writer, husband-to-be, etc) I am constantly assuming many “superhero” roles.  Over time, I  have developed a pretty good work flow to manage the things that need to get done.  That has opened up many doors on my journey toward awesome. It was easier to complain that I didn’t have any time to do things rather than face the learning curves (and many of them) I face on a daily basis.  Now that I have figured how to move forward rather than treading water, I face new challenges everyday.  Managing a household and a full-time job while still making room for myself comes with a lot of  “awe”.    I get a compliment on how well I am doing with my kids, I think “if they only knew”. “Sure my son said please and thank you. But I forgot to feed him breakfast, he didn’t brush his teeth, and his lunch money is sitting on the kitchen counter and he’s already at school”. “Good job with that account, the sales are looking good”.  Of course, the customer needed my product, I was just the right guy at the right time.
I am just a big faker and afraid every one is going to find out!
Are these words of a crazy man?! Certainly not. I’m hearing a similar story from many artists, including one of my heroes, Seth Godin.  The fact that I am consuming content from these artists implies that they  have succeeded enough to be relevant and have a large enough platform to reach me.  That is awesomeness! My guess is that guys like Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey, and Rick Warren all have feelings of doubt and feel like they are faking it too.  Godin speaks directly to this in the Icaraus Deception. What separates me from them (besides a bunch of New York Times Bestsellers) is that they have mastered the art of singing along with the voice of doubt and have learned that they have something important to say.  Like the superheros, I must wear my different masks, and say what I have to say because it too is important. Batman, Superman, and Spiderman are not superheros because they are fearless or never doubt themselves.

They are superheroes BECAUSE they have fear and ACT in spite of those fears.

I will continue to be the superhero my family needs me to be.  I will be my own Superman and soar toward awesomeness.  You are reading this because you are either my mom and  are obligated to read it, or you are on your own journey toward awesomeness.  Well, my friend, you are not alone.
What things are faking your way through today?
Share this post. Tell your friends you are an impostor and you don’t care who knows because at least you are showing up!
Rocco  De Leo