Stories that speak to us

In the last year I’ve noticed a real trend amongst my coaching clients to reference movies and their characters. Sometimes it’s been uplifting true stories such as The Blind Side, other times it has been a wholly fictional piece such as Inception. Both of these films are in fact useful to a coach either as aspirational behaviour (Blind Side) or deconstructing the reality of the world a client lives in (Inception). Leaving that aside for now, it got me thinking about why movies kept coming up, whether people were watching more DVDs at home as the recession bites? I did some research and it seems that actually other activities attract people more. As I thought about it though, the more it niggled me. I compiled a list of what movies were coming up. They broadly broke in to 3 categories.

  • Escaping. Romance, comedies, action, complete escapism from the world around us. E.g Love Actually,
  • Oldies. Comforting films from an earlier period, either relating to a better, kinder time or perhaps to certain values and behaviours the viewers held dear. E.g. It’s a wonderful life,
  • Uplifting. Films which encouraged the viewer to reach for more, be more, do more in their lives, E.g Dead Poets Society. Good Will Hunting

The common thread (as I see it) is that we are all seeking ways to explain and codify our lives. Stories have always been important and right now with the recession biting harder and deeper we want better stories, better metaphors to help make sense of our existence, to assure us of our place in the world. Movies offer that, with the combination of great visuals, great music and a dash of wish fulfillment making a potent combination. I don’t think there is anything wrong with such escapism, it can be useful to identify with a character, it can help you find your own voice or measure yourself against their perceived values and of course in some cases it can be an inspiration.

So a call to action, notice what stories are appealing to you right now, no judgement required, just notice and see where it leads you. Oh and let me know what is speaking to you, either below in the comments or find me on twitter @projectlibero


About Jon Bartlett

I'm a coach, blogging on things that occur to me, that I want to share and any other fun stuff I find lying around in the real world.
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5 Responses to Stories that speak to us

  1. fab post Jon. I too re-connected with the power of stories and that great book The Magic of Metaphor on Sunday evening.

    Settling down to watch The Golden Compass with the family, the opening sequences took me away to ‘the magic’ and realms that we don’t often think about, but are absolutely there if we really want to connect with them.

    Simply and quite magically just waiting to be found in that moment of silence which we rarely afford ourselves.

    • Thanks Natasha, funny how we all seem to have a copy of the Magic of Metaphor close at hand.

      I love your line about the moment of silence we rarely afford ourselves. As a child I didn’t get to see many movies but books and their stories were my solace and remain so. I read recently that the reason that the Danish TV show “The Killing” is so popular is because of the subtitles. Basically people have to really concentrate to read the titles for understanding and so can’t idly surf the web (or god forbid, tweet). That in turn allows the focus to really immerse oneself in it.

  2. Great post Jon. There’s a point there about conscious vs. unconscious escapism. The value is perhaps foremost in being more aware of which it is we are doing and what value we can gain.

    Funnily enough this weekend we also watched The Golden Compass again! It’s prompted me to pass the book Northern Lights to my eldest who is relishing it. There’s perhaps greater value in how we pass on stories for others to make of them what they will.

    the Magic of Metaphor is also within reach of my desk (!) and I always remember the Pig & Cow story. For some reason, the irony of life, perspectives and preconceptions just jumps off the page. These are the stories (lessons?) that I think help us steer a course congruent with our values. They nourish the fire of our souls.

    • Thanks David

      I agree on the point about conscious levels of escapism. What I was finding with clients was a conscious which to escape but less conscious of where they were escaping to and what needs were being met by identifying with certain characters or themes. That was where the coaching was able to aid clarity, by encouraging the reflection (as mentioned in Natasha’s comment about the moments of silence).

      You also make an excellent point on how we pass on stories. With less of a story telling tradition these days we need to find ways to connect with the younger generations. Many people bash computer games but the best of them encourage social interaction, co-operation and exploring new worlds, all things I’ve explored on the page and in the movies or on the radio. I guess the mediums change but hopefully not the message.

      To your final point. Wonderful, “nourish the fires of our souls” but the whole paragraph has made me think I also need to write the mirror post to this one – “The stories we tell ourselves”. So (and I mean this most sincerely) thanks for giving me some more work to do 🙂

  3. Pingback: Nifty Fifty | projectlibero

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