Your Problem – A Good Problem to Have?

There’s our heroine, our hero; beauteous and brave, triumphantly traipsing along when Lo! Adversity lands. That crosscurrent appears – family crisis, job change, health issues, money meltdowns, long slow slog periods that seem like they’ll suck the spark from your soul.

At first our heroine thinks, “Oh no, a problem. That’s not supposed to happen.”

Wait, is it? Not supposed to happen? Really?

Think on this. In every really good story you know, the ones that keep you glued to your seat and smiling for hours, very soon into the story, a PROBLEM always emerges. A big one.

When Dr. Eleanor “Ellie” Arroway in the movie Contact starts her science career investigating the possibility of alien existence, she runs into quite a few problems. Any of these may have derailed the best of us. Funding issues, egoic and short-sighted bosses, and a mysterious transmission from the planet Vega including images of Hitler and a repeating sequence of prime numbers. Our heroine is not perfect – in fact, early loss of her father due to a premature heart attack makes her driven and intimacy-avoidant. You have to have a few interesting subplots, after all. Plus, look at how this trauma with her scientist dad serves to strengthen her bigger purpose …

In stories, that adversity crosscurrent is not only a given, it’s the critical rub that contributes to a compelling story. The common first response to problems arising may be, “Wait, this wasn’t supposed to happen.” But if you do a Take II, and look at the bigger picture of the story, and of human stories, this irksome problem may be just the sandpaper needed to create the next brilliant piece of evolution.

For my clients, it’s become very clear that in the bigger picture or perspective, these crosscurrents end up being the perfect invitation to transformation. Well, provided you don’t succumb to the distraction and seduction of the dark side. That’s another story, right?

What story would you like to create? What stuckness seems insurmountable at the moment for you or the world? Let me know in the comments.

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