Heroes, Villains, and Guides

by | Jan 30, 2019 | Change, Identity |

I’ve been reading a lot about stories lately, the structure of stories and how every good story has a hero, a villain, and a guide. According to Donald Miller, you can decipher almost all films using the following structure:

A character (hero), has a problem (villain), and meets a guide, who has a plan, and calls the character to action, which helps the character avoid failure and end in success.

Of course there are million ways to use the structure, but it underlies stories. I’ve connected this thinking with Bernadette Jiwa‘s work in Story Driven where she talks about the importance of knowing who you are, which is essential and yet most of us avoid it.

Our tendency to be insecure and unclear about who we are leads us to confusing our role in the story. In our own personal story we can be the hero, but in our work around change (instigating, managing, etc.) our role is to be the guide helps other people be the hero. When we make the story about ourselves, our product, our system, we ask people to put us on a pedestal, when we empathise with them, guide them, help them see where to step next, we help them to be hero of the story.

I think this applies to change, to managing people, to parenting, and many areas of our lives. Are we content to be the hero of our story or are we trying to be the hero of every story?


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