#1398 How to Ruin a Good Story

Hint: Play the Role of a Victim, Hero!

In our last +1, we talked about Donald Miller’s great book Hero on a Mission.

As you may recall, we focused on the four different roles in any good Hero’s Journey.

(Pop quiz: Do you recall what they are?!)

Here they are: The Victim. The Villain. The Hero. The Guide.

I encouraged you to check in on what roles YOU are playing in YOUR life these days.

(Pop quiz: What role did you find yourself in most yesterday?!)

Today we’re going to talk about how to RUIN an otherwise great Hero’s story.

Here’s how Don brilliantly puts it: “If you were a writer and came to me with a troubled story and said, ‘Don, this story isn’t working. It’s not interesting and I don’t know how to fix it,’ the first thing I’d look at is the lead character. Who is this story about and why isn’t this character working to make the story more meaningful?”

He continues by saying: “As I mentioned in the introduction, there are four major characters in nearly every story: the victim, the villain, the hero, and the guide. One thing that will ruin a story fast is if the hero—the character that the story is about—acts like a victim.”

Then he tells us: "You cannot have a lead character in a story that acts like a victim. This is true in stories and it’s true in life. In fact, this is true in stories because it’s true in life.

The reason a hero that acts like a victim ruins the story is because a story must move forward to be interesting. The hero must want something that is different and perhaps even frightening to achieve. This is the plot of nearly every inspirational story you’ve ever read.

A victim, on the other hand, does not move forward or accept challenges. Instead, a victim gives up because they have come to believe they are doomed.”

As I read that passage, I thought of a line from Finding Joe that happens to be in the trailer.

Robert Walter, the Executive Director of The Joseph Campbell Foundation tells us: “I think people wake up to the fact that they are the hero of their own life when they get tired of being the victim of it.”




And, know this...

The fastest way to ruin *any* story including your own life story is simple. Act like a victim. NO ONE wants to watch a movie in which the would-be hero is acting like a victim.


Why would you expect to enjoy the movie that is your life if you’re not willing to make it interesting by stepping up and HEROICALLY facing your challenges and giving us all you’ve got?

As Don tells us: “For practical purposes, it is my position that the author of our stories is actually us. Perhaps the single greatest paradigm shift I’ve had as a human being is this idea: I am writing my story and I alone have the responsibility to shape it into something meaningful.”

And, remember: “The heroic transformation begins when the hero takes responsibility for their life and their story. The hero becomes the hero only when they decide to accept the facts of their life and respond with courage.”

HOW do we do that?


Later in the book, Don talks about something known as “Karpman’s drama triangle.”

That model is the basis of one of my favorite little books called The Power of TED*. (Check out the Notes on that book—which happens to be one of the first three Notes I ever created.)

The short story?

You can be a “Victim” stuck in what David Emerald calls “The Dreaded Drama Triangle” in which you are tormented by life in the form of people and challenges you see as “Persecutors” while you seek “Rescuers” to save you.


You can be a “Creator” living in “The Empowerment Dynamic” in which you view those same stressors as “Challengers” rather than “Persecutors” as you seek wise “Coaches” to support you on your Heroic quest rather than “Rescuers” to save you from your misery.

The trick to making the shift from Victim to Creator?

Quit complaining and ask yourself ONE simple question: “What do I want?”

Then, of course, go do what you need to do to get it.


As always…

TODAY, Hero!

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