Scott Schimmel 0:21
I can clearly remember a moment in my life. I was in college towards the end of college. And I was starting to really focus in on that impending decision I had to make, which was, what am I going to do with my life and try this, maybe adults need to warn me, I don't need to have everything figured out. I really at 20, 21 years old did want to figure stuff out. Because I knew that life mattered. And my choices mattered. And I ended up having before final interview at a big accounting firm, I had a I had a nightmare that it was a dream. But to me, it kind of shook me to my core, that I would be 20 years in the future. I'm 40 years old, and have lived a boring, monotonous, predictable life. I think there's actually a lot more people like me, than there are the folks that just want to hang it up and do the path of least resistance. I think, especially when you're young. People want to live a great life, they want to live a great story. They want to discover what that means. But the current version of that the current story that they're given, or the story that they see, is not it's, it's boring, it's put your head down, do good in school, do what's expected of you, and move along. Now, that's one problem. The other side of it is for those of us who really care about kids, parents, teachers, coaches, I'm talking to you. The big question I've had for the last 20 years professionally has been how do I make the most impact on a kid's life? How do I help a kid not go down that path that I was terrified of going down. A path of missing out on your potential. And you can call it probably a dozen different things. But it would be a clear sense, from the outside looking in, certainly the inside looking out that this life was not meant for me. I was not supposed to live this predictable life. There are dozens of stories. I mean, you think about movies or films or books about people who've done just that. And there's finally some sort of wake up call for them. I just can't do this anymore. I'm thinking of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Those kinds of books or Falling Down- there was a movie back in the 80s where a guy just could not stand his life anymore. Think of the Incredibles. Mr. Incredible himself, Bob, who's an insurance agent, but he's got this other story inside of him. There's story after story like that. And what we're going to focus on in the next few minutes is this idea of the hero's journey. And I've been studying and learning about it for most of my life. And if you want to know, and you probably have heard this, maybe you read this, this big, huge book called The Hero with 1000 Faces Joseph Campbell. He's the guy that's popularized this framework, this idea that, that every story throughout time, has overarching themes. There are themes for every great story that have ever been told, myths through literature, certainly through film, certainly in our own historical figures, then there are predictable patterns. And he says he's... through this book, which is really hard to read, if you've ever tried to read it, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. I've got a good recommendation as a second. He would say that in those predictable patterns, you can actually predict it on the front end of life, not just retrospectively. And that's why I want to present this. And I think it's got some amazing content, framework, hooks, handles ways to think about working with young people with kids that can help them live into the potential that we hope they do. A few not too long ago, a few months ago. I've been through this deep dive in the hero's journey and and really using it to frame how we do curriculum in The YouSchool. I came across this other book, it's called The Writer's Journey, a guy named Chris Christopher Vogler. And the story was that he was asked to be a consultant 30 years ago on I believe it was the Lion King, so for Disney, pre-Pixar, Disney film, as a, as a storyteller, as a screenwriter gives an he ended up writing this memo, this like letter to the other folks on the team, summarizing the hero's journey from Joseph Campbell and putting it into more common vernacular vocabulary, that was much easier to understand. And then he ended up writing from that, I think it's like a 12 page letter memo, turned into essentially a textbook, which is now taught in college and graduate level courses. And it's kind of like the Bible in Hollywood for writing great scripts. So what I'm gonna walk through is a few pieces of that. I just want to read a quick excerpt from Vogler from The Writer's Journey. He says "At heart despite its infinite variety, the hero's story is always a journey. A hero leaves her comfortable, ordinary surroundings to venture into a challenging, unfamiliar world." Parentheses- think about a kid and adolescence inching towards adulthood. "It may be an hour journey to an actual place, a labyrinth, a forest, a cave, a strange city or country, a new locale, that becomes the arena for a conflict with antagonistic, challenging forces. But there are as many stories that take the hero on an inward journey, one of the mind, the heart, the spirit, and in any good story..." This is, I think one of the best parts. "The hero grows and changes making a journey from one way of being to the next, from despair to hope, weakness to strength, folly to wisdom, love to hate and back again, it's these emotional journeys that hook an audience and make a story worth watching." And the subtext there- it's in that transformation from the ordinary world of childhood to the extraordinary world, if we do this, right, if a kid does this right into adulthood, that makes not just a story worth watching, but a story worth living. And that's one of the key ways that this hero's journey can be a framework for life. There's a deep dive if you're watching this. If you're listening to this, you can't see this. But I could share it in the notes. This is a depiction, This is an overall graph of William Volkers or Christopher Vogler's framework, like the entire thing. There's a lot of different parts, he's separate this out into different acts. And he's really thinking about film specifically screenwriting for films, there's four acts, and there's these patterns, and he's pulling this from Joseph Campbell, these patterns from the ordinary world to and you can kind of overlay as he does in that book, you can overlay a lot of the most popular films for the past 50 years, or more. The things like Star Wars, Casa Blanca. So and you see these patterns, you see the pattern, certainly in Star Wars, it almost follows it to a tee. And the way it's used in Hollywood would be the more you understand the framework, the more you're able to kind of hit these notes, play these notes. Well, you can use this as a grid to look back and see what part of the story is underdeveloped or weak. And how can we leverage the framework of the hero's journey to make a story much more compelling. Because the way we're wired, our brains are wired, whether it's from evolutionary biology or just kind of chemistry in neuroscience. We love stories. We love, we're attracted to conflict, to transformation, to change. I'd say there's something deep down almost spiritual, inside of everyone, especially every kid that that kind of rings true to this, I want my life to count, I want my life to matter. Who's going to argue with that? And what we look at, I'm just going to zero in on a few of the, I think the most helpful parts of this as with your work with your kids, or your students. You've gotta think about it, it's in this in this version of it, we have to talk about and define who the hero is. And just have to say it's not, you know, you are the hero of your story. But with your work with kids, as a parent, you know that you're not the main character, you're not the protagonist. It's the kid. And so if you've got more than one kid in your family, if you've got 120 students, you got 15 players on a team. Every single one of them has a unique story. Sometimes it's hard to see that. Sometimes we just kind of lump them all together. And and, you know, especially if you haven't figured out your own story, I mean, gosh, how are you supposed to help them figure out theirs? But they're the protagonists, they are the main character. And what we want to do, I think what we want to do is because each kid is the hero, the protagonist, the main character of their own story, we want to get to know their, in this language, the hero's journey, their ordinary world. That's another way of saying, Who are they? Their real identity, who they really are. And this is a mixture this is, we get into this obviously with YouSchool all the time, a series of reflection questions to help us understand them and more importantly them to understand their own ordinary world.
As they seek to try to figure out who they are, through adolescence into adulthood, we help them understand themselves. That's the primary task of adolescence for every kid. And we are part of that. It's not to do one school. It's not to stay away from drugs, it's not to get prepared for a job. It's not to figure out life skills, so you can fend for yourself. Those are all important pieces. But primarily, the point of adolescence and being a teenager is to figure out who you are. Figure out your and understand your own ordinary world. What's the container that I live in? Who am I? Who am I not? What makes me different? What makes me unique? What do I have? How am I seeing and perceived? Where am I? How has that impacted me and affecting me? What do I look like? What does my disposition? What is even the facial expressions I make? And so the more we are curious about that- every kid has a unique ordinary world, the more we take time to ask questions, to be a mirror, to give kids a space and time to reflect on and understand their ordinary world, the more prepared they will be, to live a great story, to go on a big adventure. That's pretty cool. Gets me fired up. Next key part of this that applies to kids is just that the call to adventure. Vogler and Joseph Campbell would say it's about a problem, a challenge, an adventure to undertake. I think what I want to do for kids and my own kids especially, I want to help them hear a call. Here's something that calls to them, beckons to them and, and you might look on one side, which would be an internal longing, deep desires that they have to help them pay attention to that, to listen to their own lives. Parker Palmer an author/activist says, "Before you tell your life, what you're going to do with it, listen to what your life wants to do with you." It's, it's a way of looking inward, what deep down? Who am I? What do I want? What kind of life and dreams and ambitions and aspirations are just inside me? That can serve as a call to adventure. We could also help them look externally, to as David Brooks New York Times author and, and read a lot of books, talks about this ideas, his phrase is "summoned by life." What is the world calling you to do in this time, this place with who you are and what you have? What are the great problems in this world that you are equipped to solve that you've been picked on the team to go and help fight that challenge? Fight that problem? Stand up for the little guy. What, How is life summoning you? You think like jury summons like- you've been called to this adventure to be in this fight. So we help them look internal, find great longings, we help them look outside and hear the summons. Hear what life's calling them to do. And sometimes it's great suffering, that that becomes the call to adventure. It's some great suffering to them personally around them. That harkens to them, that helps them hear something about what they're called to do and be. There's this character, this kind of archetype in the hero's journey called the Herald and Vogler says this "Heralds have the important psychological function of announcing the need for change. They alert the hero that change and adventure are coming." What does that mean? It means we bring the news to them, we call them to an adventure your life matters. We say things like that to them, we challenge them to step through their real identity, who they really are into their true identity, who they could become. We challenge their fear and we invite their courage. What is life summoning you to do? What is deep down inside you? And we have conversations about that. We say things and ask them questions, not rhetorical. But we anticipate, expect that they would have an answer what calling is worth your life? What are you being called to do? Who are you called to become what are you called to fight? We say things like there is a great story inside of you. Not a boring, predictable, manageable story. It's not the typical American dream, put your head down, do good, survive, get through the day. No, there's something better than that. There's something bigger than that. We call out and we help them as they start responding to that call, as they start finding some clarity, or to use Top Gun language, find tone, get the tone like bullseye and get the track tractor beams and something and some adventure. We help them move forward and the ordeal we provide support. We encourage them which means to literally give them heart like "take heart", give heart to them. We tell them the truth about who they really are and who they're really becoming. And we invite them and support them along the way. So three final things. How do we participate in being heralds to kids as they step into their own heroic journey? We number one, share our own journeys, our own story of transformation, and recognizing that for most people, we have multiple stories within us. It isn't just one overarching, neat and tidy story. When Liam Neeson, who went to rescue our daughter, and that's it we have, there's this story about our characters story about relationships, the story about our career, the story about the ways in which we interact with the world around us and our neighborhood and our community. We have multiple stories to be a part of. And we share that we share that openly with kids. We, we, we let them know that's what it looks like. Especially for kids who they see the opposite. They see boring, mundane, monotonous, predictable stories. We have a responsibility to live great stories ourselves, and to share them with kids. A second thing we name reality for them, we help them see who they are and who they can become. There's this part of the hero's journey called the "refusal of the call". And it's a part of every good story. No, I don't want that. I'm not prepared for that. I don't have what it takes. That's not really for me. I didn't really hear that whisper. The force really isn't real. I'm not really special. Like we helped name reality. No, that is, that is the call. You do have what it takes. You do have the ingredients of turning into someone that can make a big difference. We help them name reality- you're not there yet. That's why you need to keep trying. That's why you need to keep surrendering and keep changing and growing. The third thing is just like that we challenge the refusals. Where are you going? What, what got in the way? What's distracting you, discouraging you? Is it doubt? Is it fear? We challenge them. So we call them to a great adventure. We model it for them. We help name reality. And we challenge when they refuse the call. These kinds of questions, these kind of prompts from the hero's journey can be incredibly helpful. A framework, a way of looking at life, that's very different than taking a personality assessment and finding a set of careers that you're matched against. For... Hey, because you're high in visual memorization, maybe you should think about being a physical therapist, like that's that version of helping kids explore who they're becoming is honestly so lame. It's helpful on one level. But please, we got to do better. Helping kids see their life through the lens of story, to become a narrator of their own story, to see life and the experiences that they're going through as episodes, part of a larger story that's unfolding can be tremendously helpful for them to find meaning in the moment to see where they're headed to find motivation to build resilience. This can be one of the most useful tools that we have at our disposal. So you might be thinking, man, I've missed it. I've I haven't really lived a great story. Well, you're not done yet. Let me name reality for you. You're not done. There's a great story inside of you waiting to be discovered, waiting to be told, waiting to be lived. So what is it? What's the call? What's the deep longing in you? What is life calling you to what are you being summoned by? What is the great suffering that you've experienced? That is that is guiding you to be a part of easing the suffering of others. That's it. We are heralds to kids on their great journeys. What a privilege.
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