OMG, now what?

Stuff happens. Sometimes we bring it on oursleves. Othertimes the universe conspires against us. Either way, we have to move out of our comfort zone and into action.

What has happened, is happening, or will happen in your life that yanks you out of your ordinary world into an extraordinary world? This is what Hollywood calls an Inciting Incident: a pivitol moment in the story that moves the action foreward. In the Wizard of Oz, the call to adventure – or inciting incident – was when the tornado whisked away Dorothy, and Toto too, to the extraordinary land of Oz. 

Take your career for instance. Have you ever quit a job to move into a better one? In this case you answered the call to adventure by moving out of the safety of the ordinary world of your old job and into the novel world of your new job. You're not in Kansas anymore. 

The same is true, and maybe even more pronounced, if you were let go from your job and thrust into the extraordinary world of having to find new employment.  These are inciting incidents that required you to answer, maybe reluctantly, your call to adventure. 

The conflict that arises when your world gets turned upside down propels your story forward. No call to adventure, no story. 

Why story, why now?

In our ABT statement, we defined the disruptive forces of technology and how they have democratized communications. It used to be that business leaders and brands controlled their influence through mass media to pound their inadequecy marketing into us. But now the masses are the media, and conversation trumps coercion. 

Smart brands have evolved from promoters of stuff to publishers of meaningful content. Features and benefits selling (The what we do, in Sinek terms) has been replaced with storytelling that focuses on the why we do what we do. Consumers want to know that the brands they patronize stand for something greater than what they sell. 

This is also true for your personal story. Audiences are intrigued by what you stand for and what you are willing to go through to achieve it.

Jonah Sachs, author of Winning the Story Wars – Those Who Tell (and Live) The Best Stories Will Rule The Future, talks about how smart brands are moving from inadequecy marketing to empowerment marketing in this TEDxRainier presentation. Brands are having to answer the call to adventure of their discerning customers by telling and living better stories to survive. 

Jonah Sachs shares how storytelling is at the heart of empowerment marketing

The reach of the internet that now allows anyone to have a global voice on any issue has turned the communications world on its ear. This social phenomenon has changed how we all communicate.

For example, we teach our students in the Executive Masters of Sustainabiltiy Leadership at Arizona State University to use the Story Cycle to turn data into drama. Our goal, in response to the changing communication landscape, is to help them become powerful storytellers. They use story to own the boardroom, break room, chat room and living room to build trust with their audiences, share their beliefs, connect values and move people to action. 

Incidentally, these students created their own inciting incidents when they answered their internal call to adventure to become an executive masters student on top of their already busy lives. They moved from their ordinary worlds into the extraordinary world of higher education to achieve their personal and professional goals.

Now tell us about your call to adventure.

Step 1: What is your call to adventure?

Describe what has happened in your life, either self-induced or thrust upon you, that has shaken you out of your status quo and pushed you into action.

Step 2: A quick review

Here's what we've learned so far about your Story Cycle journey:

  1. Your backstory and the set-up/conflict/resolution structure of your ABT statement helps define the purpose of your story. No conflict, no story.
  2. When characterizing the hero, you want to share, in addition to your talents and foibles, why you do what you do. No motivation, no story.
  3. You want to define what's at stake: what you stand to gain and/or lose and by when. No stakes, no story.
  4. What is your call to adventure – the inciting incident – that disrupts your life turning your world upside down and propels you into action? No disruption, no story. 

In chapter 5,  we'll examine what forces are out to thwart your progress.

Extra credit

Now that you've written about what has changed in your personal world that has propelled your story forward, what call to adventure – or changes in the market – is your brand responding to? And what about your customers? What is changing in their lives that makes your offering all the more appealing?

If you were authoring your complete brand story using the Story Cycle, this is the chapter where you would assess the wants and needs of your customers and how your brand helps them attain their goals. This is where you elevate your positioning statement by drafting your brand's unique value proposition. 

Chapter 4 Finé. Time to click the "complete" button and move into Chapter 5, "Villains, Fog and Crevasses," if your dare.

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  • Step 1: What is your call to adventure?
  • Step 2: A quick review