I once came across the following advice: "When faced with a decision, take the choice that makes for a betterstory." While I can't remember the source of this quote (and Google failed me), it's a thought that resonated with me. When I'm eighty and talking to my grandkids (provided there will be any), I sure want something interesting to tell.
Looking back, I followed a similar sentiment when I decided to start my own business nine years ago. I was certain that even if I failed, setting up shop would make for a good story to tell. Maybe it will be a tale of success, maybe it will be a tale of caution. Either way, there will be a tale to tell. Compared to continuing my career in the corporate world, this was the type of story I would much rather tell (this is not to say the corporate world doesn't write any interesting stories).
To be clear, I wouldn't make this question the only criterium when making a big life decision. But l think it's a powerful question to ask yourself when faced with any choice. Asking myself this question has often provided a boost to my courage. I also like the fact that "a better story" means different things to different people. What I consider a good story may not be your idea of a good story. What we all have in common is that when we're telling the stories of our life, we want to tell a story we're proud of. Hence the question becomes: What story will you be proud of?
Taking the path that makes for a better story means taking bold actions. Because bold actions and courage are what great stories are about. All the excuses you have lined up to justify playing it small, keeping it safe and ignoring your true aspirations become moot. They lose significance if you focus on creating an interesting story.
Taking the decision that makes for a better story also helps us zoom out. We start to see our decision in the context of our broader journey and look beyond the immediate consequences. Think about people you look up to for how they live their lives. What inspires you about their stories? And what type of story do you want to look back on yourself when you've lived your life?
Sure, always making the choice that makes for a better story may sometimes lead to reckless decisions, but my feeling is that people far too often make the choice that creates a story they aren't excited about. One that's dull and sometimes downright depressing. One that lets them wake up one day with a sense of dread that they reach the end of their life without expressing their true self.
Next time you're faced with a decision, consider which choice will make for a story you'll be excited to share.