Now, today is the day that you learn how to turn your life stories into messages that can change lives.
Remember last week when we talked about sifting through your life to find stories? If not, please do.
I’ll just sit here and wait for you. No worries. My time isn’t important…
Great, you’re back! Let’s keep going.
Once you have a story picked out, you want to start thinking of what you learned from that experience. Just brainstorm. It doesn’t have to be something that you actually learned at the time—I’ve had to learn some lessons the hard way multiple times before they finally sank in. That’s life.
But think about what happened and what moral it could be synonymous with. What about the time you got caught stealing at the liquor store? You know, when the owner caught you red-handed. Lesson learned, right? Hell yes! You get out of sight before you pocket that Snickers bar…
Probably the wrong message, scratch that.
Instead I’ll tell you about a story from my life and how I tweaked it to make a point.
Jump in my DeLorean and let’s travel back in time. It was a Wednesday night back in 2009 and I was driving home from a slow pitch softball game. Minutes before, our team had just won the game and way more importantly…I had a great stat line! I think I went 4 for 5 with a nice diving catch in center field. Not freakin’ bad, right? I felt great. Anyway…
While driving home I got a phone call on my cell. It was my wife. Nothing abnormal about that, she calls all the time. But this phone call was different.
I answered, “Hey honey.” No reply. I repeated, “Hey honey, you there?” Nothing. This went on for about 15 seconds before finally I heard someone crying. It was my wife. Only, this cry I’d never heard before.
My heart dropped instantly. My first thought was that she’d been abducted and she’s in the trunk calling to let me know where she’s at (don’t ask me why). So I said in a panic, “Honey, tell me where you’re at. Where are you at? Tell me where you’re at!”
All she would reply with is “honey” which was drenched in that heart piercing cry.
Finally after a minute or so, a woman gets on the phone and says, “Your wife and child have been in a serious car accident.”
I thought to myself “Holy shit. Is this for real?”
“Where at?” I shot back.
She told me and I raced to the scene of the accident Fast & Furious style. It was about 10 minutes out. I made it in 5. At about a hundred yards out I started to see that the phrase “serious accident” was putting it gently. There was chaos in the middle of this busy slab of asphalt. The fire department, the police, an ambulance, and even the neighborhood gawkers were on scene.
I pulled off the road about 25 feet away from the crash, jumped out of my car, and ran to my wife’s car. The car looked like it was hit by a 18-wheeler—it was absolutely painful to see. I ran to my wife who was still stuck in the car crying frantically, unable to string together a coherent sentence. But, I saw in her eyes she was glad to see me. And I was glad to see her, too.
My 1 year old daughter Brooke was also stuck in the car. It was difficult to see in the back of the car because of the damage, but boy did I hear her. She was screaming louder than the ambulance sirens. Her face was swollen and it looked like she had been crying for more than a week straight.
I began circling the car several times not knowing what the hell to do. The firemen were already there with the Jaws of Life trying to remove the the doors to get my family out.
My emotions were hitting the rev limiter, but I had no place to direct them. The strangest thing was that, in my mind, everything was moving in super slow motion, and everything going on around me, apart from my family, was insignificant. I could have been bare-ass naked in the middle of this circus and I wouldn’t have flinched. My tunnel vision was focused on getting my family out of this car. But all I could think to do is circle the car which I mastered. That is, before a fireman finally spotted me and realized who I was—the distraught husband and father.
He yelled to me, “Hey you, come here! Pick this up and follow me.” He pointed to a generator that powered the Jaws of Life. I did it without question. So that’s how I became a fireman! Wait…wrong story, sorry.
I followed him around as he removed the shrapnel from what was once my wife’s car. I was grateful I had something to keep my mind off the possible negative outcomes, because I still didn’t know how badly my wife and daughter were hurt. Were they paralyzed? Did they have broken bones? Brain trauma? Imagine those thoughts zipping through your mind…
At the same time I noticed that there were several police cars that were unoccupied for some reason. Well, apparently the drunk driver that hit my wife and daughter at 50 MPH decided to flee the scene. Except, being drunk and stupid, he didn’t get far. The police were cornering in on him. I hadn’t even given it any thought to tell you the truth. I couldn’t care less about what had happened or who was responsible, I just wanted my family back in one lively piece.
Finally, the firemen cut open the metallic flesh of the car and quickly transferred both my wife and daughter into the ambulance. Since they were helped into the ambulance, I still didn’t know what condition they were in. I ran to the back of the ambulance and the EMT’s told me which hospital they were taking them to—I followed.
The ambulance arrived and the EMT’s rushed my family into the ER. It wasn’t until 37 minutes later that I finally found out their condition. The doc says to me, “your wife is going to be….okay.” Pure relief flowed into my soul. She had a concussion and was experiencing short term memory loss the entire night, but beyond that she was fine. We’d have a small conversation and minutes later it was lost (on her). At least now I know what dementia will be like. Crappy.
My daughter on the other hand was completely unscathed. My wife put her in the middle of the backseat and it’s a damn good thing she did. Had she sat in the back right, I might be telling a different story because that’s where the car was attacked. So, I was feeling like a lucky dude.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Okay, get the hell out of my DeLorean and let’s examine the story a bit, shall we?
So then, besides it being a dramatic story, it didn’t lay out a message or a purpose, right? Perhaps it made you reflect on your own family?
And surely you could probably think of a meaning on your own since you’re a genius, but you’re the exception. However, for the simpletons like myself, we need to be guided to the promised land.
I’ll tell you what I did with this very story. I turned it into a message about procrastination. Can you link the two? Probably not the first thing that comes to mind.
My reasoning was this, if you procrastinate on releasing something into the world, you are in danger of it never being released…like ever. What’s the big deal you ask? Well, maybe not a big deal to you, but what about someone that could have benefited from your knowledge and experiences? That’s the real crime.
And what about if you procrastinate on something that you really, really want to publish, but put it off for fear of criticism, or for whatever contrived reason? Something that you were passionate about. You see, we assume that we’ll always be able to do it tomorrow…or the next day, or maybe even next year. We say to ourselves, “it’s not going anywhere.” That may be true, but what about you?
Refer to my wife’s accident. Your life can change in an instant—my family was lucky…that time. You can go from being a softball superstar one moment, to a wreck the next. We really don’t know when our energy will be sucked from our flesh by the straw of the reaper. All you can do now is shoot value to the world using your experiences as bullets. So I urge you to do just that. Because tomorrow is an assumption, and today is now.
Motivation aside, you see what how that works? I could have turned that same story into an entirely different message. It could have been about loving your family. It could have been about drunk driving. It could have been about the importance of wearing a seat belt. It could have been about teamwork with the emphasis on the firemen, EMT’s, the police working the scene, and especially the nosy neighbors. You with me?
You have stories worth sharing, it’s all a matter of how you look at the experience. Get started already. You never know what could happen… 🙂
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