“The Clues to a Great Story”

In today’s post Andrew Stanton, one of the genius’ behind such classic as Finding Nemo and Wall-E discusses not only the beauty in story-telling, but the power in story-telling. Using clips from some of his most successful movies, he explains how stories connect everyone. How in a good story, things don’t go perfectly for the protagonist, in fact it has to be quite the opposite. Because we connect with the protagonist through his/her struggles, challenges, and obstacles. No one can relate to a main character who has everything go perfectly in their life and has never faced a challenge because that is not how life goes. Life has ups and downs, peaks and valleys, and the what is the beauty in the down times? They allow us to whole-heartedly enjoy and appreciate the great times in our lives. 

I have capture some of my favorite quotes (some para-phrased, some direct quotes) from this epic Ted talk and would like to elaborate on why the resonated with me. I hope that in watching this video or reading these quotes you find that they have a profound impact on you and your life today.

Everyone knows how to not care.

How typical is apathy in most of our day-to-day lives? We have people that work to turn off their emotions, turn off their feelings, hide their passion and their joy, and pretend that the life around them is “good enough.” It is one of the greatest lies we can tell ourselves when we tell ourselves that we do not truly care about our passion or our purpose. In life so often we are told to “think things through” and to make “smart choices”. People who have given up on their ambition will tell you to “be realistic”, now why did I underline this? Because I think this is one of the most abused words in our vocabulary when it comes to people arguing for their limits. The next time someone says to you, “maybe you should be more realistic,” how about you turn back to them and say, “I think I will stay with unrealistic, because I know it’s gonna be a hell of a lot more fun, and will take me places that being ‘realistic’ never would have.” Live with passion, make spontaneous decisions guided by your heart, pursue love and excitement unapologetically and allow yourself to try new things without the fear of failing. Doing this will lead to a life beyond your wildest “realistic” dreams.

Stories make a promise to you that it will be worth your time. 

When you really consider any of our social interactions in our life, the amount of interest a person will show is predicated on how much value they believe they will get out of listening. Whether they are expecting a laugh, knowledge, or an interesting social commentary when you open your mouth and others close theirs, you are intrinsically making a promise that them giving you their time and attention will be worth it. Why do all the great gurus and pros out their tell us to talk less and listen more? Because it guarantees that when you actually do speak, you will be able to provide that person or audience with exactly what they need because you have spent the time genuinely listening to what they have said. Remember, it’s not about you, it is about making a difference for them, that is where real connection and joy comes in life.

But it’s going to be worth your time

With every experience, interaction, or attempt at something, we have the choice whether or not to believe it is going to be worth our time. “If I go talk to that girl, apply for that job, go skydiving, will it be worth my time?” Most of the time, rather than try it and risk being let down, we decide to assume we know what the outcome will be and continue to take no action, planting our asses on the couch and watching the latest episode of America’s Got Talent, because it’s fun to watch other people pursue their dreams (but terrifying to pursue our own). What’s the secret? Stop rationalizing yourself out of experiences to grow, connect, and feel love! Take a shot and let yourself be captivated by the magic of uncertainty and new experiences!

“The audience actually wants to work for their meal, they just don’t want to know they are doing it.”

Andrew talks in his speech about the fact that we are all born problem solvers. We love the feeling of being presented with some facts, some pieces of data, and ultimately combining them in some way that helps us arrive at the solution. This is the key to making a difference in people’s lives. It is not about just giving them the answers, but about guiding them to help them understand why it is important to them. How many times have you heard something like this, “Want to lose weight? I know the secret: cut out carbs, work out 2 hours a day, eat only leafy greens, no processed grains, blah blah blah.” Even if the advice is relevant, how often do people take it? Almost never! Why? Because although the advice may be sound, they have not come to their own understanding of why losing weight is important to them. We are very good at looking at others and determining why they need to change or how they should be living their lives differently, but most of us are TERRIBLE at looking at ourselves and taking our own advice. Take a moment to understand why your goal is important to you and the way to make it happen will simply come to you. “I want to lose weight so I can: be their for my children, try sports I’ve always wanted to try, enjoy delicious food guilt free, be an example for others who want to lose weight.” Help the people around you come to their own conclusions about life and change and you will be astounded at how many people’s lives you impact.

“It is this well organized absence of information that draws us in.” (We are born problem solvers) 

What makes life interesting? Wonder, curiosity, and a sense of not knowing what is out there. Why do we get bored with routine? Because it no longer engages when we perform monotonous tasks that don’t challenge us to learn. Why are things like travel, language learning, and teaching yourself to cook so engaging? Because it forces your mind to solve problems and activates parts of your brain that normally do not get any attention in the generic, standard days we choose to live. Give your brain and your heart chances to encounter and solve new problems every day and you will be blown away by what you are capable of doing.

“All well developed characters have ‘spines’. The character has an inner-motor, a dominant, unconscious goal that they are striving for, an itch that they can’t scratch.”These spines sometimes lead us to make the wrong choices  

We all have a driving force or reason for being. We have challenges and things from our past that challenge us, insecurities we are trying to disprove, or dreams we are trying to realize that drive step we take. It is interesting that the pursuit of happiness does not always lead us down that path, the only way to truly find your happiness is to find it in every day and understand that “failure” will come to everyone, the truly great ones are the ones who are not deterred from their goal when they meet unexpected circumstances.

“Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty.” 

Drama in life is amazing, not the “drama-reality” TV garbage that we consume daily, but the excitement and drama that exists in new experiences. Drama can sometimes have a negative connotation, “all he does is bring drama,” well my recommendation would be to avoid that kind of drama and focus on the kind that brings you “anticipation mingled with uncertainty”. Ask that girl/guy you’ve been after on a date, take a bike ride in an area you don’t know, make it your goal to make a stranger smile today. Are you certain it will work out how you plan? Nope, and that’s where the fun comes in.

“Have you made me want to know how it will all conclude in the long term. Have you constructed honest conflicts with truth that creates doubt what the outcome might be.” 

Live a life that makes me want to watch, listen, and learn. Live a life that challenges the people around you to pursue their own dreams, a life that makes them believe in possibility. This is to truly live.

“We all live life conditionally, we are all willing to play by the rules and follow things along, as long as certain conditions are met. After that, all bets are off.” 

How do we remove the conditions for “success” from our life and just focus on the dreams that we know we are meant to pursue? Let’s stop hiding behind, “I will go for it when… or… I will try it if the weather is nice.” Conditions take away from our joy. Make a decision and go for it regardless of the external circumstances.

“A strong theme is always running through a well told story.” 

What is your theme in your story? What is the message that comes through when you enter a room without you saying a word? Think about it, if it’s not what you want, make the changes you need to. If it is what you want, work to develop and grow into a better, stronger, healthier, smarter you every day.

“Can you invoke wonder? Wonder is honest, it is completely innocent, it can’t be artificially evoked. For me there is no greater ability than the gift of another human being giving you that feeling. To hold them still just for a brief moment in their day and have them surrender to wonder.” 

Invoke wonder in one person’s heart today, and you have had a profound impact on them. Even if just for a moment, you are able to create the wide-eyed excitement and belief of a child, you have accomplished something truly incredible.

“Whatever I ended up being good at, I would strive to be worthy of the second chance I was given.” 

We all are given second chances, opportunities that we may not fully understand why we were given. Don’t waste your time on asking why you have a second chance, focus all your energy on finding out why you are here and what you are meant to do then do whatever it takes to make it happen!

“Capturing a truth from your experience, expressing values you personally feel deep down to your core.”

This is how we really connect, by expressing the vulnerabilities in our story and in our life. Feel comfortable sharing your true self with the people in your life and let your feelings come through. When you speak with passion it is like your entire body is buzzing with excitement. Only by discovering our passions can we use our past, our story, to help others through it.

This has been my longest post ever and for those of you that read through it I hope you enjoyed it, that the typos were minimal, and that you can apply one of the messages here to your life today! I wish you all the best.



Mom, I haven’t been writing as much lately, but after this post I have realized how essential it is to my happiness. I hope you enjoy this one and that the recovery from this round of chemo is quick. I know God has a reason for everything and I believe he had this happen so we can all appreciate how much better things are when they get the new chemo that works even better and brings your closer and closer to recovery. Your strength and bravery in this is a constant inspiration, thank you for being the incredible woman you are.




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