Drama is built upon the skeletal structure of the story arc: a recognizable pattern that pulls readers, listeners, or viewers into the story and straps them in for the ride. While the Climax gets most of the popular attention, set aside how the Protagonist resolves the conflict. What interests me the most is the Turning Point which set story in motion in the first place:
- A directionless farm boy learns about his unknown lineage that ties him to the events of galactic importance, and calls for him to pursue his destiny there as well;
- A conflict avoider who prefers to remain uninvolved in the conflict with the Powers That Be sees those powers take from him the thing he loves the most;
- A cog in the machine has his eyes opened to an unfathomable reality, and the prospect of his own innate potential;
- A victim of circumstance and injustice discovers the ability to rise above them both.
In each of these stories, these Turning Points aren’t determinant. The characters that arrive at them are not captive passengers on a train that takes one track or the other because the switch at the split in the tracks made it so. No, each character had to choose how to proceed in the face of this new information or development — choose to follow the path up the mountain towards the conflict, or retreat to the Known, the Safe, the Comfortable, or the Expected. Of course, when the Protagonist chooses the latter, there’s really not much story to tell after that. But when the Farm Boy, the Avoider, the Cog, and The Victim choose to accept the risk and climb towards the conflict, amazing things happen in the end.
Why should any of this narrative talk matter to you, who lives and leads in the real world? Simple: because this is how Life works as well.
Leading well means recognizing these moments for what they are, and leaning into the kinds of choices they put before us. It means knowing ourselves well enough to be able to look back into our own personal history and see how we got to where we are now. Finally, Leadership means understanding the mechanics of those moments and our decisions within them in such a way that we can share them with others around us. Our own personal stories of how we encountered a turning point, chose to face the challenge presented, and ultimately came out the other side stronger, wiser, and better are powerful tools of leadership.
So look back into your past.
Uncover your story arc.
Identify the Turning Points in your life.
Understand how the story unfolded and how your choices shaped it.
And, most of all, share it all with the people around you.