- Basic Traits / The Big Five (OCEAN) - Openness to new experiences, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism
- Characteristic Adaptations - personal goals, defense mechanisms, values, beliefs, life stage concerns
- Life Story - past, present, and future woven into a vitalizing myth
I talked about how our basic traits give us tendencies for encountering the world, and how our characteristic adaptations describe how we define that world as good and bad and take actions that reflect those definitions. For the last level, we all grow and change in this world and encounter new environments all the time. The path that we have taken, the place we reside, and our plans for the future, all serve to build the elements of the story we tell ourselves about our own lives. For some people, they are the hero in their story - overcoming or building upon their past to sit in a place where they can launch their glorious future. For others, the villains of their past have turned their story into a hopeless tragedy, or maybe a never-ending comedy of errors. While still others lack any imagination at all about what kinds of stories they can create and end up wandering the world lost or settling for the first simple story they come upon.
What story do you want your life to tell? I now write stories for a living (available here!) and do the best I can to lead a life worth reading. Rather than spout off about any of this though while my own story is so unfinished, I thought it would be great to share some insights from a person who has not only lead a long and amazing life, but who has studied other famous lives and written extensively about them in award-winning biographies. Take a few minutes to listen to the TED talk below from historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. It's an amazing feast of information filled with stories of play and work and family and Lincoln and LBJ and love and loss and ambition and failure and baseball and storytelling. Oh and there's even some funny jokes from this distinguished lady about pissing and shitting and grumpy old Brits. Enjoy! And then see if you can't weave some elements of her helpful stories into your own heroic life.