Grateful for… small adventures. Over the July 4th holiday, we decided to go camping, for the first time as a family. We bought and laid out all the gear, talked the kids through the process, set expectations, and made the arduous trek to our camp site….. in the backyard. And it went great! The parents slept better than expected, and the kids are still talking about the rainbow unicorns and cement mixers on their sleeping bags. When we got donuts holes from the “camp store”-slash-supermarket in the morning, it felt like an adventure. Seems like an easy next step to take on the mountains 🙂
Thinking about… interesting stories. My wife and I had a few old friend visit recently. It was so good to see them–but, we found as we went through the evening, the stories just weren’t as fun as in years past. You see, we all used to be in the military, where we had intriguing tales of great and crazy soldiers, a huge and flawed organization we knew well, and the ridiculous situations that ensued.
Now, many of us are in our corporate settings, trying to have a career and figure things out, dealing with the boring minutia and huge uncertainty of work. And so the default is no story at all: who wants to hear about these mundane details?
So – here’s what I came up with. Interesting stories have….
- Common ground. I need to take the time to set the stage of a common experience. For me, most people haven’t worked in healthcare, or technology, or the military. But everyone has been on a team, dealt with bureaucracy, found themselves in a crazy situation at work. I should take the time to build shared understanding.
- Worthwhile purpose. It makes a difference to state a relatable goal–one that everyone can behind. Even if it’s humble (e.g. “…and I was just trying to make it through the week…”)–this little practice creates a shared understanding.
- Human details. Often, I have gotten in the habit of leaving out those little quirks in the telling. I should be better about noticing and appreciating them.
- Twist of plot. A good plot twist needs a setup (…I was expecting…) and a change (…instead….). So – it requires me to share an understanding of what was supposed to happen, along with the vulnerability to admit that I was surprised by what really occurred.
The big takeaway for me: keep working to tell good stories. It’s takes a bit more time, but it’s the effort!
Quote I appreciated… is from John Adams. Writing to his wife, following the signing of the Declaration of Independence, he wrote this:
“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”
I reflect a lot on the value of believing in a worthwhile story, making a commitment, and following through–so I appreciated rereading these words on Independence Day. I hope they encourage you to uphold your own declarations this week.