From Trouble to Struggle
If you want to tell a story from your life, Donald Davis says: look for trouble. I've been talking with workshop participants lately about person, place, and problem as a basic set of necessary (but not necessarily sufficient) story elements.(1) The trouble comes with this word, "problem." Sometimes we tell stories that have an obvious problem, where we or the protagonist encounter an obstacle, barrier, or a mean old villain. If all stories had obvious villains, it would be easier to develop them as stories! But much of the time it's hard to identify exactly what the problem is, especially if you're doing something like telling a story related to your career, your path to success, or your organization's successes or challenges. Sure, you know you need some trouble to keep the audience interested, but is it really okay to talk so openly about a problem? If you or your organization has faced a serious problem, then you might not feel comfortable talking about it. Let's face it, the things that get most humans and organizations into real and serious trouble aren't polite dinner conversation.