Your Origin Story

No. 64
Posted on 5/14/2018 by Mark Hutchinson

"Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction."
- John F. Kennedy

"If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten."
- Rudyard Kipling

What is your origin?

Super heroes (and villains) always seem to have an interesting backstory – their origin story. It ends up being important to know those key elements in their backgrounds because it creates more meaning in the current story being told. It adds depth, texture, interest and most importantly context for their decisions and hints about where they are going.

Although most of us are not working with Hollywood or Netflix to monetize our own origin stories we do have them and they are very important. Without an understanding of your own personal history or your larger history including family, ancestors, communities, countries, etc. we lack some key information for understanding the direction we are headed and what it means. In order to form a line (conceptually) you need two points. Our origination point and our current situation can form a line and that line also projects forward into the future. That is where we are headed.

Have you ever noticed how learning a story about your own distant past can change how you think about yourself now. Although these key points in history don’t define our present, they do create the context for our current moment and heavily influence the meaning as well.

Our quote today from JFK includes the notion that purpose and direction are required for making forward progress and I suggest that knowing more about your own origin helps to build a clearer understanding of your future direction. In fact, you may discover that the storyline that forms between the “then” and the “now” also shines a light on purpose and meaning. Your personal origin story builds the arc and momentum for your future storyline!

I, like many of you, have stories in my past that I might prefer to ignore and certainly don’t wish to broadcast to the world. Yet all of those stories – the good, the bad, and the ugly, are part of you. My daughter loves to hear my stories and she seems to get the most joy from the ones that don’t particularly shine the most flattering light on me. In many cases she cajoles me into sharing these stories with others begrudgingly. I have found, however, that it has become a little easier over time to share them, although I do still cringe a little.

When I retell the story and realize that it is part of me, I find that I can see more clearly the trajectory of my life, my personal growth, and the elements of my own story line that are truly valuable. Those, all taken together, help me see where I’m headed. It also helps me to appreciate the meaning, the nuance, the texture, and all of the interconnectedness within my story. Direction and meaning are revealed.

So take some time this week and share your own origin story with a friend or family member and see if you notice some illumination for yourself.

Have a great week!

~ Mark
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