E72. How to Find and Craft Your Origin Story
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Francisco Mahfuz 0:05
Welcome to the story powers podcast, the show about the power of stories that people who tell them and why you should be doing it too. I'm your host, keynote speaker and storytelling coach Francisco mahfuz. Now, if you've been listening to the show, you know that I've recently launched the story powers bootcamp, which is how I help entrepreneurs, business owners, and lead this to attract more clients to grow their businesses, and become more effective communicators. So this episode is going to be a little different than the usual interviews I do. Because what I wanted to do today is help you to start looking for your origin story. First of all, what the hell is an origin story? Now, the obvious connection here is with superheroes, you know, how they got their powers? How did they become the heroes that they are. But the more business related connection to origin stories is you get to startups or companies that at some point in time are startups. So most people that find out anything about Airbnb, or Spanx, or TOMS Shoes, they will come across that company's origin story, when origin stories can be incredibly useful, because they help you clarify who you are, who you are for, what are you here to do? Or what is your purpose? What's your why they can be immensely useful when it comes to branding. In there, there are a lot of content as well, you know, I use parts of my origin story, in a lot of my videos, I use them in my social media in my About section. And also whenever I go on a podcast or a live, and people ask me, you know, how come you're doing what you're doing? Or when did you first get involved with stories, I share a part of my origin story or a shortened version of my origin story. So what you have here today is four different lessons from my bootcamp, I extracted the audio from the lesson so that the quality of the sound might not be exactly as good as the sound in this podcast normally is. Now I know some tech heads, hearing this and thinking, No, the sound should be as good as it is now. I'm a tech moron. So I don't know how to do that. So I'm sorry. But the sound is good enough for you to do to get everything you need to get from from those lessons. And the first two lessons is me talking about origin stories and how you should think about them. The third one is my long version of my origin story. And then the very last one is just me, explaining why I wrote my origin story that way, you know, what was what was I looking for? What are the themes I was trying to emphasise? Why did they make some of the choices I made and how I use that origin story. I hope you enjoy it, and let's get to it.
With great power comes great responsibility. If you ever heard that line, you probably know that it comes from one of the most famous superhero origin stories of all time, Spider Man's. So there was Peter Parker, this nerdy kid and he got beat by a radioactive spider and started developing these strange superpowers in as he was trying to test his powers. He went he took part in illegal wrestling match, he like put on a city costume and a mask that he made himself when he won the match, obviously, in essence, on the alleyway next to the building, counting his money, someone screams Stop thief, in some guy comes tearing through the alleyway. And Peter Parker does nothing and the guy just gets away in he doesn't even feel guilty about it because he reckons it's not his problem. What has he got to do with stopping crime. And then a day or two days later, he's Uncle Ben, who is the person who's like a father to him has raised him with his aunt Mae is killed in a robbery. And when the police can't catch the murderer, Peter Parker puts on the mask starts jumping from building to building catches the criminal, and it's the same guy, he let go the other day. So his origin story is not about when he got his powers. That's a small part of it. His origin story is when he got his purpose. Because of that, he understood that with great power comes great responsibility. And that's why he fights crime and puts his life at risk all the time. So when it comes to your origin story, yes, we need to talk about when you've gotten the power that you now have to help people. But more importantly, we need to talk about the purpose we need to talk about why is this important to you? Why have you got this burning desire to help other people because when you can combine those two things, you know, the power you've got with the purpose and the pain that started that process in the first place? You have A fantastic origin story in we're going to cover a lot more than this. But I just wanted to give you a teaser and get this point completely right, because this is absolutely essential to make sure you start thinking about your origin story in the right way. When I was a
kid, I really wanted to fly. I probably read too many superhero comic books, but I just really wanted some superpowers. But you know, that's never gonna happen. But you know, one thing we have the superheroes domes is that superheroes only have one origin story. Whereas we can have many, because you've done many different things in your life. And the origin story you tell is about the thing you're doing now. And you probably just focusing on one major thing in your life. So you're going to have one origin story at a time. But if you ever change your career, there'll be a different origin story for that, in there is a process for finding his origin stories whenever you need them. And this is what we're going to go through in this video. Like with almost anything in stories, if you know the end, it makes it a lot easier to figure out the beginning. So the end is where you are now. So what what is your superpower? Now? Who are the people you helping? And why are you helping them? Okay, once we know that we know where you are. Now we need to go back to the beginning. When did that start? When did you get on this path? When did you when you get or learn the power that you now have to help other people in the way you find that is the I think of three major moments as the ones you're looking for. So you're looking for a moment of challenge, when you had something difficult you were trying to do in your life or to overcome some type of crisis. And by facing that challenge, is when you learned about what you were capable of, or maybe you didn't overcome the challenge you failed, that caused you a lot of pain, and you decided that you would never do that again. And that's why you're on a path to make sure that that never happens again to you or to other people. Okay, so a moment of challenge in your life. The second thing I look for is a moment of change, a lot of us have had to pivot, which is a worst word in the English language. But if you had to change careers, or if you want to change careers, that you're going through change, maybe you changed countries, maybe you got out of a long term relationship, you know, something in your life, that was probably a big change. There's lots that you can use there to justify what purpose you now have, you know, why are you trying to do the things you're doing, why you're trying to help these people, okay, and that all started when you moved from one scene to the other when you went through change. And the third thing is what I call a kung fu moment. Now this is not about Kung Fu Panda, although it could be because it works perfectly for Kung Fu Panda. The moment I'm thinking of is when you might have seen in one of the videos in this course the what if you know Kommunikation Kung Fu, which is that moment from The Matrix, when Neo starts to believe. Now that's not the moment right at the end, when he's just about to start fighting Mr. Smith, because that's the climax of the movie. That's not where near started getting his powers. That's just a culmination of his journey, the moment he really started to believe, is when they're uploading all that information into his brains. And he's in one of those weird shapes they had in the matrix. All this information is being uploaded. And you can see lots of martial arts little pictures in the computer. And then as soon as he opens his eyes, he says, I know kung fu. And then Morpheus says, Show me and they get into this dojo and start fighting and near who, you know, had no idea what was going on, had no idea what he could or couldn't do, all of a sudden, is facing up to, arguably one of the most powerful human beings on the planet at that moment. Okay, so that is his kung fu moment. That's the moment he realises I have powers that I didn't know I had. So those are the types of moments you're going to look for in your life. To start, draw, drawing the arc of your origin story, you know, the end of the arc should be now but the beginning of the arc is the moment where you face the big challenge, success or fail. We went through change, or you had that kung fu moment of realisation. Alright, enough theory, but you're going to hear next is the long version of my origin story. You know, the horrible dream.
Are you standing in front of the classroom? Everybody's waiting for you to speak and you're terrified? Well, that actually happened to me. One day when I was 12 years old. My seventh grade teacher looked at me and said, Francisco Can you please come up here and tell your story to the whole class. So I looked at the other kids and half of them were horrified. And the other half just couldn't wait to see me crash and burn. But as I slowly made my way to the front of the classroom, I realised that it wasn't just terrified, actually a little excited. You see, I was never a popular kid, I was raised by my mom, and we didn't have much money. So it was a big sacrifice for her to send me to this fancy private school. But because all the other kids had more money than me, I could never dress the same way they did. I could never go on the school trips. If I went to their house, I was too embarrassed to invite them back to mind. And all of those things may be different. And when you're that age thing different is not a good thing. So I was never one of the cool kids. And I never felt like I fit in. And I thought that the way to fix that was money. If I only had as much money as they did, I would be alright. But on that day, walking up to the front of the class, I thought, what if they liked my story? So I went up there, and I told this silly story about a detective I had invented called tapeworm. And he never saw any cases because he was always hungry, and getting distracted by food in, they loved it. They laughed, they cheer, they asked for more in while I was up there, I felt like the happiest kid in the world. I felt like just one of them until the bell rang, and I went out into the hallway. And then I was back to being regular old me. And I completely forgot about stories for many years, until I had to decide what to do in university. And I thought that maybe I should be a journalist, because I loved reading. And I loved stories. But that wasn't my father decided to have one of the very rare conversations where he gave him some advice. And what he told me was, people who tell stories don't make any money to you in a struggle for the rest of your life. And I did this because I remember what have happened before. And I definitely didn't want to ever feel that way again. So I started something else. And when I realised that I was not going to be able to make a good living in Brazil, I left I went to Europe, or I didn't know anybody. And eventually, I got a nice solid job. And I started making some money. And then I met Patricia, we got married, we had a daughter in life was good. Except that every morning, when the alarm rang, I had to drag myself out of bed. In Friday, I couldn't wait to get out of the office. And I thought, There's got to be more to life than this. And the only time I really felt alive was when I was on a stage telling stories, because I got into public speaking a while back. And, and my friend Peter would come to me and say, Listen, you're pretty good at this thing. I assure you, they're going to do something professional year. And I just couldn't even think about it because I was too afraid to rock the boat. I was too afraid that money would become a problem again. So I didn't do anything for years. Until one morning, my wife woke me up on the verge of tears. And I said, what's happening is everything okay? In she said, The scariest words I had ever heard. Francisco. I'm pregnant again. And I'm a grown up. I have a daughter already. You would think I know how these things work. But I clearly didn't because you caught me completely by surprise in she started crying in and I hugged her. And I think most of her tears were of joy in and I started crying to in mine, Warren, all joyful tears, because I was terrified. At that moment, it hit me. This is it. I've got a wife, I've got two kids, I have to stick with this horrible, serious boring job for the rest of my days in s. But as I got more and more excited about this new kid, I got more and more depressed. And he one day said this, this cannot be it, I have to do something more. And that's what I decided to start telling my stories and to help other people tell their stories. And that is why I'm here today.
That's the long version of my origin story. It is rare that I'll tell it with all those details, because I usually won't have the time for that. But I told it that way here because I think it's important to realise that when you write it for the first time, when you develop it, you want to have the whole story. And then you can decide what needs to stay when it's to go. But sometimes you'll be able to just tell a shortened version or parts of that story, depending on what is it that you're trying to do. So let's break down what that story is about and what the elements that I put in there. So what does stories about should be fairly obvious is about the power of story to change your life for the better. So I was miserable as a kid. And then I was unfulfilled and miserable as an adult, in story in both cases is what gotten what's gotten me out of it. So in other words might power his story, the pain was how I felt as a kid, how I felt as an adult, then looking at the particular elements. What makes that story relatable? Well, I would argue that I'm a relatable character. And a lot of people have felt like they didn't belong in school. And there's a few other details like I was raised by my mother, I didn't have much money, I couldn't do certain things that other kids could, I had a difficult relationship with my father, or should probably say, I have a difficult relationship with my father, and then how I felt as an adult and the alarm clock and waiting to leave the office on Friday. Those are all very relatable things. Some people might also relate to, to be terrified of having more children. And knowing that a boring job is what are gonna do for the rest of their lives. So there's plenty of things in there. Does it have specific details? Yes, I describe very, in a very detailed way what my story is right at the beginning, there's all the things that I couldn't do in school, people will be able to identify those details. There is my my decision about university. And then when you go further into the story, the alarm clock there the Friday, the conversation with with my wife and her crying. So there's a lot of things there they released any of those situations you identify with? Does a story have specific moments? Yes, it has at least two it has the moment when my wife tells me she's pregnant has the moment in the classroom, which is the main one, arguably, that is the Kung Fu moment of that story. And then the conversation with my wife is the moment of change. Okay, so because it's a long story, identify two of the three things I say you should usually base your origin story on. And finally, it doesn't have emotion. Well, I talk about how I feel throughout the whole story. And does it have stakes? Yes. I mean, being a kid that doesn't fit in, is horrible. Nobody likes that you want to get out of that situation. And then you be concerned about money is a problem. feeling miserable as a grown up, but being stuck between a rock and a hard place of can I afford to live my life if I do the things I love? And if you know, if I don't do the things I love? How do I get out of bed every morning. So those are steaks, those are all things that that make me as the character care and hopefully makes you care about my story. Now, how will they normally tell this, there's a lot of details here I can teach, I don't need to tell you about tapeworm, the hungry detective, I can drop that and just say I told a story. I don't need the part about University and my father, I don't need the part about leaving Brazil. So I can actually just tell you the story right at the beginning of the classroom scene, then I can tell you about being miserable as an adult, because I took a job for the money and not for how it made me feel. And then when my daughter when my second daughter was coming, I got very concerned about that. In then I decided that I needed to get back into stories, which I can do that I dropped a lot of the stuff I can tell that story, maybe a minute and a half, two minutes, max, okay. And the other thing I can do with that story, if I want is just tell parts of it as individual stories. So I can tell the classroom and have done so I can tell the one about finding out I'm going to have another kid. And I've done that. And I could probably turn the conversation with my father into story if I wanted, or leaving Brazil into a story. So that's how you do you how you build it your origin story, you look for where you are now, where you were in the beginning, you look for that moment of challenge change or the Kung Fu moments. And then you make sure that all the relevant elements are in that story. So it's relatable, specific, and has emotion.
I hope that was useful. And if you decide that you want to have a go at finding your own origin story, then by all means use all the stuff that I put out here. If you want a worksheet that helps with some of that, contact me you can find all my details on the on the show notes. And what you might find is that it's difficult to read the label from inside the bottle. So it's difficult to gain clarity when you're thinking about yourself in this way. If that's the case, and you want to explore how I could help you do that. Please get in touch. It's one of my favourite parts of this work, the just to see the look on people's faces when when all the pieces fall into place. And all of a sudden, they can understand their own story and their own superpowers and why they're here to do what they're doing. I mean, that's amazing. I love doing that. I'd love for you to go through that experience. So if you want to just reach out. But anyway, I hope you enjoyed this video. For an episode and I'd love to know what you think because I plan on doing a few more of this in the coming weeks as usual thanks for tuning in take care of yourselves and until next time