A million miles in 288 pages; how to get unstuck by living better stories

We hear so much about “storytelling” these days, especially in the context of PR, communications and branding.
In Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, the essence of “story” is central.
Miller is trying to get to a new place on a personal level, but he’s stuck. His breakthrough happens when he attends a famous 36-hour seminar called “Story,” taught by Robert McKee.
He learns that story “is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.”
While living better stories is the essence of character transformation, the conflict part is key. Without FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt), memorable stories don’t unfold and personal progress is stymied.
For the first third of the read, it felt like a book about Miller’s personal journey. But then something happens, and it unexpectedly transforms into a story about me – my journey. I suspect the same thing may happen to you.
Instead of allowing life to unfold upon us in a haphazard way, Miller helps us discover (unassumingly and humorously, through the lens of his own experiences) how we can grab hold of our lives by shaping memorable scenes. These pivotal, scary, sometimes risky self-created life events blast us through personal roadblocks and psychologically get us to the new outcomes we desperately seek.
Miller learns that while planning is important, the magic isn’t in passively pondering – but in doing. “We have to show it,” Miller says. “A character is what he does.”
Miller discovered that once you experience a memorable scene, you get hooked and want more.
“You’ll get a taste for one story and then want another, and then another, and the stories will build until you’re living a kind of epic of risk and reward, and the whole thing will be molding you into the actual character whose roles you’ve been playing. And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years invites us to live better stories. The cool part is we learn how to do it without the typical “10-step” sort of dogma. It’s a beguiling combination that nudges itself within your soul.
Thanks, Chris Brogan, for turning me onto it.

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