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Authoring the unknown

How do you author a story you do not know?

You do not know the end game of your story

You do not know the milestones on the journey

You do not know the timeframe of your story

You do not know all the actors in your story

You do not know some of the geographical backdrop for your story

Well, the only character you know for certain is yourself. And even that character may surprise you.

This is not going to be an easy story authoring. But in many ways the unknown is what will make it power surprising and inspiring.

If you ever heard novels authors speak about their process, you will discover that they split into two categories. The first group are those who know the plot from the start and the writing process is merely a documentation of the story they envision in their imagination. Writing for them is like painting a picture with all the images already drawn in pencil and they just need to add color and bring the picture to life in its detailed visual. In this case words are acting as the colors. The second school of authors go on a discovery journey. Their story is not fully defined and the end game as well as the twists and turns of the plot are yet to be discovered. In fact, many of them describe their writing process as a discovery in which they invent their characters as they go along. While they have a general direction of where they are heading, they do not have a full outline and let the creative process lead the way. So, it is not just the plot that is unknown, the actors in it are being defined and tweaked as you move along. These author’s craft is the equivalent of starting to put color on a canvas without the pencil outlines. They just for it and see where they would go. Words for them are a form of pure creation not just colors added to an outline.

Authoring your life story fit more with the second category of authors. But you still have a little bit of the first group. So how do you author the unknown? What are the tools in your toolbox besides a pen or a keyboard?

The Toolbox to author the unknown

Jonathan Sacks have noted in his writing that we are always at the juncture between what are skills are and where we are needed the most. He asserted that our lives are full of purpose, even if we do not know what that purpose is. We are here to fulfill that purpose and we are given the tools and opportunity to fulfill the incredibly unique role in which we came on earth to fulfill. Without us and our purposeful life, the world will not be complete. This assertion was inspiring for me especially in moments where I am in the darkest places where I had n idea what is going on, where I felt helpless and without control and things happened to me. I reminded myself that even without my full knowledge and awareness I am still at the juncture of my skills and where I am needed the most.

In defining the toolbox of authoring our lives, I would like to draw upon this inspiring idea and expand on it.

The toolbox of our life story consists of four tools: dreams, skills, opportunity, and impact. Together they create the framework in which we can craft every chapter of our life and make it meaningful. They are truly the tools of authoring the story. Let us examine them one at a time

· Dreams – dreams are your outline of the future. Like the first group of authors you can outline a future goal and start walking down that path. It is the expression of your passion and your hopes that are coming together into defined dreams. They help guide you to pursue certain career or relationships.

· Skills – each and everyone of us is blessed with unique gifts from telling good jokes to playing the harp, we each bring a unique voice that is destined to make a difference, inspire people, and create its unique contribution on the world. Even if you ask to guitar payers to play the same tune, each will play it slightly differently reflecting their own way and approach to music. These skills when hones are primed to respond to the right opportunities.

· Opportunities – these are the unique circumstances that we create or find ourselves in. it is the life moments and locations in which we are present and can make a difference. Opportunities are however not just time and place, but it is combined with awareness and willingness to apply your skills to address the situation in front of you. Sometimes we may face opportunities but lacking the awareness and motivation we will miss them altogether. That is why we need to combine the presence of an opportunity with our own presence at the time to fully capture it.

· Impact – the outcome of our actions as experienced by other people is the ultimate impact we create in the world. It can be people that we see and who provide us feedback or people o the other side of the world who benefit (or harmed) by your decisions and actions.

Combined; dreams, skills, opportunities, and impact are the framework for your life story authoring. They can direct you to the right place where you will apply your best skills to the right opportunities that will make the most unique impact on the world.

Excellence- work in progress

If you would have had a chance to purchase an Olympic medal and be declared as a winner without the hardship of training, failing and winning competitions, would you, do it?

Most people will refuse to do it.

Why? Because without the sweat, hardship, and the thrill of competing it is not worth it. It is faking it and deep down we know it is not real and merely a self-deception. What gives the medal, and the winning meaning is the hardship that came before it. The pain of losing, the sleepless nights, the tough training, the travel to different competitions. It is a whole journey and without it you will not care for the “declared achievement” The same will be for conquering the Everest. If a helicopter will drop you on the top without much of efforts, it will not be a story to tell. You may post it on Instagram, but everyone will know that you are no where close to the true Everest conquerors. Nothing risked, nothing gained.

And this is the essence of it. An Olympic winner starts with dreams but with zero guarantees and sometimes worse with plenty of naysayers trying to convince you that you are not good enough. They need the skills and the opportunities and if they win, they will make an impact by inspiring others. But as they start the story journey, they are clueless about the end game, the efforts required, the difficulties ahead of them, the other competitors from other countries. And yet they dream. And then they make the first step and the one after. They keep on pursuing until they unfold the story one chapter at the time. They hope to fulfill their dream but sometimes it does not end with the expected result.

What makes their pursuit a life story. Their intention and determination. They do not choose to give up and be passive. They choose to dream and then apply their skills and look for opportunities to make an impact. To author your life story, you need to be intentional and pursue the next steps. Sometimes you will get lucky, but luck usually is an outcome of years of pursuing, trying, failing, and getting up.

The world – are you a giver or a taker?

In life there are two type of life stories: the takers and givers. As children we grow and take from the world in the form of parents’ efforts, education, and health services among others. We grow and are in a mode of development. After we decide on a career path we start giving back. Creating products, services and experiences that make people’s life better. In the process we also consume and take from the world. We all must take from the world to develop, create, and live. The question is what our bottom line is. Did we give more than we took or vice versa? Did we replenish what we took and then left some more?

True life story authors are using the impact pursuit as their ultimate compass. Life will throw at them unknown number of curve balls. They will end up in plenty of places and situations they did not want or plan to be in. the ultimate tool in their toolbox will be the pursuit of giving more than you are taking. The commitment to make an impact on the world. So, if you plan to author your life story start by the commitment to make an impact and become a giver. This compass will help you identify the other tools in your toolbox. It will direct your dreams away from selfishness and towards people-influencing. It will help you see your skills and choose to refine the ones that will make a difference (I know you are really good at Candy Crush but is it really the right skills to develop and spend your waking hours on?) and most of all, with an impact perspective, you will see the opportunities in front of you clearly. They will shine and call upon you to apply your skills in the moment when and where the world or the people around you need you the most. This is how you will author a life story that might be yet to be unfolded but at the end will make you proud and purposeful.

The Question

What is the first defining moment that starts your journey?

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