[FTMM] Storybrand and Embracing the Role of the Guide

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This is the third installment of a mini-series we are calling Finding the Meaning Movement.  This mini series will show in your feed with the letters FTMM in brackets.  

In this series, Dan welcomes Raj Lulla of Fruitful Design & Strategy as a cohost for some “Build in Public” style conversations about The Meaning Movement, the current state of Dan’s work with the Meaning Movement, and personal/ business / marketing problems that he’s seeking to solve for himself and on behalf of all of us.

It’s not necessary that you listen to the past conversation to benefit from this one, but it could help add some color to the conversation I’m about to share.

Listen in here:

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Software Generated Transcription:

Dan: And we’re back. Welcome back, Raj. This is the third episode in this mini series of sorts that we’re doing. Um, how, how are, how do you find yourself, uh, at this moment?

Raj: I’m loving it. Thanks for having me.

Dan: I love it. That’s me asking that question is how do I pretend like we didn’t just record the other episodes right before getting the record button?

Raj: Hey, I had a snack in between, so I’m, I’m 

Dan: gotta, I gotta drink of water. Um, I, yeah, I think a great place for us to jump in today. Well, I mean, this has just been really fun so far and excited to continue the process, but I thought it’d be, could be fun to kind of peel back the layers a little bit about the story brand and like that whole process that we’re going through, that you’re leading me through.

Um, and the work that we’re doing on the meeting movement, just so that, so people have you just for outta curiosity, I’m sure people. You know, wondering like, what is, what does all this, what does all this mean? What’s going on behind the scenes? And I think it’d be fun to kind of share again, the, the idea of like building public, some of the process that we’re, um, that we’re going through.

Raj: Yeah. Yeah. So in my day job, uh, not, not hosting the podcast with Dan here, um, I’m a brand strategist. I co-owner a company called fruitful design and strategy. We’re based outta Omaha, Nebraska, and we are one of about. 35 or so story brand certified agencies in the world. And, uh, what that actually means is that we use a framework called story brand that helps you position your customers as the hero of the story.

Instead of yourself, it positions you as the guide of the story instead of the hero and the way that it does it is it uses the seven elements of story that have been used over thousands of years from Aristotle all the way to today to, uh, to create movies like star wars and Harry Potter and books like the I and all those things.

The, the heroic journey, the it’s a story that’s, that’s been told over and over again, and it really breaks out down in this. Elements. Uh, and you can use those elements again to position your customer as the hero of the story and position yourself as the guide. So you are Luke Skywalker or, uh, they are Luke Skywalker and you’re OB one Canobe instead of the other way around.

the reason we do this is because if you position yourself as the hero of the story, then the customer who wakes up in the morning and doesn’t think about you first thing, believe it or not. Um, They’re thinking about their lives and, and how, you know, how they’re going to be good parents today, how they’re going to, uh, you know, make their business succeed, how they are, uh, you know, gonna learn something, be something today you don’t cross their mind until well, later in the day.

And the only real question that they have for you is, uh, are you going to help me do that? And, uh, and, and so if you position yourself as the hero of the story, Then they go, oh, you’re in a different story. This isn’t. And so instead you position yourself as the guide, as a helper to their story, and they know that you can actually go together to what they’re trying to do.

So, um, yeah, we’ve been working on, uh, your brand script that that’s kind of the outcome of the story brand process and. Um, you know, so one of the things that that’s really, really important, it, it may sound super simple. everybody who’s listening who owns a business or works in, uh, you know, any kind of world where you have to talk to customers, knows that you have to start with a character.

And, um, see again, it may seem super obvious, but you’d be surprised how often people don’t have that as nailed down as they think. Uh, one of my favorites is 

when we work. Um, well, and, and kinda like you said, uh, a few episodes ago where. It is like, who’s the moving meaning forward. And you’re like, well, anyone who?

And it’s like, anytime you start with anyone, it’s like, um, yeah, Luke Skywalker is not just anyone. He, he happens to be, you know, in the lineage of Darth Vader makes him pretty important. He’s a pretty specific someone. Um, and spoiler alert for anybody who, you know, hasn’t seen those.

Dan: Oh, no, we ruined

it. Ruined the whole.

Cause before. I know you have more to say, but before I just, I, on my desk, Liz, I just was ducking out a frame to find it. Um, this is, this is my, from

my childhood, my Luke Skywalker action figure for people who are listening, Luke Skywalker, looking very ripped with a backpack with Yoda in it.

Um, that lives on lives. On my desk. I dug my star wars, actually figures out of the, my shed, the storage shed for, uh, for my, my kids to play with. But I, I, I. Stole that one. And the reason I keep it on my desk is as, as a reminder, that, you know, well, you said OB one, I’d prefer to be Yoda.

Raj: That’s great. That’s 

Dan: to To be the Yoda is really as a reminder to me, you know, to be the Yoda, to the, to the Luke Skywalkers, um, who Luke Skywalker to stand in for everyone in, in the audience.

So, um, just

Raj: Yeah, that’s great.

Dan: keeps me, they, they keep me company on my desk cuz I’m, as I’m working away

Raj: yeah. Yeah. And so exactly, exactly. To that point. Dan wants you to carry him around in his backpack or in your backpack and that’s , that’s 

Dan: But I kinda, I kind of do right. If you’re listening, like I’m getting, you’re carrying me around on your, on your phone or


Raj: in your pocket, wherever. Yeah. 

Dan: that’s 

Raj: So we begin on this entire process with identifying the character and yeah. Again, when you get lost in that sort of, uh, this is for everyone, this is for anyone then, um, when, whenever you tell anybody that you go, oh, this is for everyone, then really what you’re telling ’em is it’s for.

Because, uh, there’s hardly any product that you buy at the store that, um, is really legitimately for. Every age, every race, every gender, uh, you know, every class, every, you know, income level, like every, everything that you could think of. I there’s probably hardly any product that actually crosses all of those boundaries, maybe toilet paper, but even then you’ve got the cheap toilet paper and the good, you know, it’s like, there’s just not very many that, that.

Everybody in the, in the same way. So you start with that character. And, uh, so, you know, again, talking about building in public care, kind of rebuilding the meaning movement in public care, finding the true identity of the meaning movement. Uh, let’s kind of throw it back to you Dan , so who really is the character, uh, who is gonna be most successful in the, the universe of the meaning movement?

Dan: I love that. It’s such a good question. It’s like a hard question to ask to answer, cuz we’re, we’re figuring this out as we go. And I feel like we’re, we’re, you know, I’m, I’m learning it. I’m discovering it. I’m finding it to use that language. Um, but it’s. Someone who feel and so likely, likely mid career, um, could be male or female tends towards tends towards male.

Uh, outwardly successful inwardly feels like a sense of. In completion when it comes to success. Um, some, some doubt, some hesitation, some, um, unfulfilled, um, I guess, desire when it comes to, to, to their professional endeavors. Um, and that’s shifted a bit from. When, when I started, which we can talk, talk some more about that.

Um, but yeah, I think the, the real, the payoff or the, the journey that we’re inviting people to is towards, like some of the words that we’ve used is, um, like being the director or, um, captain isn’t quite the right word, like director of their lives, I think is a word that we’ve, that we’ve used, um, like to really kind of, uh, taking the reins and, and, um, Shaping their life into, into, um, what they want it to be.

Raj: Yeah. So, and.

Dan: the language that’ve used.

Raj: That was gonna be another question I was gonna ask was was, you know what, so what does this person want? Because, and, and this, again, it may seem super obvious, um, you know, that somebody who feels outwardly successful, uh, but inward. Maybe struggles, like we talked about in the last episode, I’ve got multiple roles in my life and I feel S maybe successful at work, but I don’t feel successful at home or the other way around.

And, uh, or maybe I feel great in both of those, but I don’t feel like I’m living up to my faith or my values or, you know, whatever, because I feel like I maybe should be doing more and, and again, whatever area. And, and so what does that person want? um, if you were a different type of business, if, if the meaning movement were a different, different type of business, you could have a different answer to this question.

Uh, for example, um, you know, somebody who, who is, feels successful on the outside, but doesn’t necessarily feel all the way successful on the inside. It isn’t hitting their own standards in their own life, in, in every area. Um, and so what do they. A different brand, maybe, uh, George Clooney’s brand might say a great bottle of tequila to just watch that , you know, just to watch 

Dan: away the 

Raj: feeling away, you know?

Um, you know, and so there, you know, or, or any other kind of escapist, uh, you know, thing, it, it could be, uh, you just need to watch another show on HBO max or, uh, you know, Whatever it is, distract yourself away from this sense of, of maybe identity crisis or at least identity kind of struggle. And, uh, but the meaning movement is different in that it fully embraces this struggle and says, okay, let’s go through this together. Let’s find clarity on the other side of this. It’s in the name, that’s the meaning movement. Let’s, let’s move towards meaning. Let’s find that meaning, um, in each of those roles in our life and figure out how to balance those competing priorities and those competing roles.

That’s unique. That is unique to the meaning movement. That’s why all of us are here. Uh, but at the same. We’ve probably never articulated it that clearly. Um, and part of it is because it’s changed. So let’s talk, you, you mentioned to that, um, how has it changed over the.

Dan: Yeah. I mean, when we, when I started and this gets into some of the, where I think some of our, our engagement around this Raj began. Um, but when I started was like really focus on more, less about the struggle. And I love that you said providing people to struggle. I’m like, that’s, that’s a hard thing to sell when we, when we put it in those, in those ways, inviting people into the struggle, um, into the journey. The main lens through which I viewed the work was about life direction. Um, and, uh, like answering the question of what am I gonna do with my life. Um, partly because that’s, I, I had just come out of that process and really I identified, like, this is a big part of what I wanna do with my life is start the meaning movement, but also more broadly, like be a part of starting things, uh, be an entrepreneur, um, and a lot of the work that I was doing with clients, um, was really about that, where they, they felt stuck in some way about, you know, they were doing one thing that wasn’t working out.

Um, most of them, you know, had gone through some, you know, whether it was burnout, whether it was just a bad, bad boss, whether it was, you know, just, just some sort of disenchantment experience with what their. They thought would be their career for a long time. And they were kind of coming to this career crisis moment of, I don’t know what I’m going towards and I don’t know how to figure it out.

And so it would help them work through that process. Um, and so, and before we hit hit recorder, kind of talking about this, like The process has changed? No, no, no. The process remains the same, but like the starting point, I think is what has, has probably shifted a little bit from being as focused on one, maybe singular outcome of like, okay, figure out what to do with your life or figure out, you know, what you wanna be when you grow up to, more of like defining it more in terms of success, more in terms of, of fulfillment more in terms of, I think like it, in terms of agency, like having. In your life and over your life, um, is, is an important, important aspect of it.

Raj: Yeah. Yeah. So, uh, this is where I found you, you know, eight years ago. I was, again, I was in the last job that I had before going to work for myself, starting my own company. and, uh, I did not start fruitful just, uh, I co-own it with a really wonderful, uh, business partner named Ben. Uh, but I, but I did start a photography company in the middle there and, uh, and then also just started freelancing in doing brand strategy and, um, Anyway, I was kind of in that place when, uh, when I found the meaning movement and I always felt, I actually I’ve told you this before.

I felt like Dan was just kind of always, uh, in, in the background, may I didn’t maybe think you were in my backpack, but I did think you were in the background. um, cheering me on to it’s like, you can do this, you can find meaning and all that. However, I feel a little bit like the bad kid in school, like sitting in the back row because I never paid for anything in the meaning movement because, uh, because I was in that stage.

And I think that one thing that you found of course, is that most people in that stage of life can actually afford a, a deep course that, that can you. You kind of coach them through these moments. And so therefore isn’t necessarily a great business model for the meaning movement. Um, and so as you have kind of changed to understanding that the same things work for people who are experiencing that, that struggle mid-career um, then, then we understand that maybe.

Maybe what the meaning movement does needs to change a little bit. And this, by the way is completely why we start with character. Why we start with who is the main character of this story, because, you know, early it was identified as kind of this early career person, who’s trying to figure out their life.

And, uh, and so the, what the meaning movement sells was kind of defined around that. But now that we’re redefining that character, we’re actually gonna have to redefine the product as. Um, redefine the, what the meaning movement offers, but what’s great about that is that it’s going to make the meaning movement more effective.

And, and so that can be a scary moment, but it also is one that’s very freeing. It is, uh, clarifying. It helps us know what action to do next. So,

Dan: Well, can I, can I say before we go continue, just one more word about that. It’s like, I, I, I don’t know that I actually thought about it as necessarily, I guess, early her career. Um, but not necessarily like post, it was usually the people I work with that I’m, I’m thinking of the people that I did, one on one work with.

Um, and what’s really interesting about it. And, and many of them tended to be. Mid to late twenties, kinda like having a quarter life crisis. And what this shift is like now maybe we’re talking more about the midlife crisis. Um, what’s shifted is, is, and I think the reason why the process. We’ll stay the same, which we can get into, like, what is the process?

And, you know, some of that. Um, but, but why it works is because it’s the same problem, it’s just manifested differently and the difference, and I’m just realizing this, even as we’re just talking about this, the difference is that the, the old, the old demographic, um, the former demographic that tends a little bit on the, the more younger side, they’re more willing to kind of blow it all up and find something new while the demographic that we’re, you know, That’s coming more into focus, um, is more interested in maybe holding the tension between what they’re currently doing but finding some success, some sense of success or fulfillment in that.

What’s also interesting about that is. The former demographic and this I think could, is a whole nother can of worms that we may or may not want to want to dive into. But the older demographic also tended to be, uh, more female. Most of my one-on-one clients were women. but then as far as people have responded to the messaging that we’re talking about here, they tend to be, tend to be male.

And I, um, you know, I, I don’t know, you know, Gender St. All of it stereotypes like the cultural, whatever things messaging around, um, gender I think is at play at least to some degree in that, that, you know, men might feel a extra degree of. Responsibility kinda like we talked about, even with me and how I define success, then women do which isn’t to say that, you know, that the material that we’re, we’re creating isn’t, you know, useful for women or anything like that, but that it often tends to be men that are asking these particular questions in these particular ways.

Raj: Yeah, I think maybe, yeah. I think maybe even it’s it’s that men weirdly, uh, even though we won’t talk about it as much, we do feel. A little bit more freedom to struggle with it. Um, because, I think in some ways, because the stakes are so high when you are providing for a family, um, and again, this is obviously very stereotypical, but part of it too, is I think a lot of your audiences come from sort of the, you know, Christian evangelical world and, and where those stereotypes are still really strong.

And, but anyway, so this idea that, you know, husband, father, um, Struggling with their career and all that is kind of the norm in some ways. And, and so there’s a freedom to struggle with it and go, I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing. Maybe I should quit my job and start my own thing. And you know, a lot of people kind of hit that in late thirties, early forties.

you know, even, even up to 50 or so. And, and. I think, uh, part of the reason maybe the demographic has shifted a little bit is because I know that women are struggling with this also, but to, to say, you know, think my wife, you know, up to just this last year was a stay at home mom with our, our three kids.

And to say that you don’t feel fulfilled. In that, or that maybe you don’t feel like you’re successful in that ha just carries a lot different connotation that, that a lot of women just kind of suffer through silently. And so I will say the meaning, movement’s a great place for you to not have to do that.

Um, that is a way in which it does work incredibly for women as well. So, um,

Dan: well said.

Raj: so, uh, you know, One thing that’s always kinda stuck out to me is, is curious, is, you know, the podcast and the website, everything are called the meaning movement, but you developed the only thing that, uh, the meaning movement sells and called it, the calling course, um, Can you talk to me about that?

Like why, why is it called the calling course? This is a little bit of brand strategy moment, but as you all can tell, like, you know, we’ve identified this other character and I’m not sure that they’re looking for calling. So like, tell me about 

Dan: Mm-hmm yeah. Yeah. Great question. This is something that Raj and I have talked about quite a bit. I named the calling course, the calling course, as I, you know, when I, when I launched it, I played with a lot of different names and I don’t remember what any of the. Runner ups were at that time, but I was really struggling with finding a word that really encapsulates the, the, the, the journey that I wanted people to go on.

The, the problem again, of like, what do I do with my life? Um, I feel stuck and I need a, like the major, major life direction, like the macro level questions that I was, you know, playing with. and I landed on calling with some, with, with some reservations, some hesitations around it. But it felt like the best stand in word for that conversation without having to do a lot of work to define it.

And that, even though I had some, and it feels like I had some baggage, even with me personally, I, I don’t often use that word even in my own thinking and writing and talking. Um, it’s not that much of part of my vernacular. Um, I knew that it was for other people. And that when we say calling, we are thinking about like, it it’s a stand in for, for meaning.

It often does have like religious connotations or like ministry direct, you know, um, applications. But at least we know that there’s like something about work and something about meaning related to that word. and so it felt like the best, the best place to start. And so that’s, I think that’s why, that’s why I landed there.

What often, you know, um, and I see this, and this is some of your, you know, where you’ve, you’ve pointed out. Like it’s not a, it’s not a faith based thing, right? Like, no, it’s not, but that’s often a misconception’s like, do I need to be a Christian or a Catholic or have some religious affiliation, you know, to, to benefit from it.

And the answer, the answer is no. And unlike the traditional view of calling. Capital C calling, I should say, which is like, you know, handed down from God in a cloud cloud’s part and the light, you know, shines down on you. It’s much more of, um, it’s kind of flips that over. And, um, the, the main, the, the real thesis is that like calling is a very subjective experience that is based in your narrative of like who you are, the stories you tell about.

About yourself and that have been told, or, or that you have accepted to be true about yourself. It helps you, you do the work of, of digging in and, and discovering those maybe for the first time or revisiting them if you’ve done this kind of work before, and then beginning to shape those into, um, a narrative that you wanna carry forward into things like, you know, what is your, your mission and what do you wanna do with it?

Where do you put that? Um, put that to work, you know, when it comes to. Job career, those, those kinds of things. So that’s a very kind of a long-winded answer, but that’s why, that’s why I ended up as the calling course. Um, and I feel like part of it, you know, there’s, I feel like. 15% was, some business advice that I was following at the time, a guy who like helped people start courses and he like, you know, you, you have your, your courses, like your it’s a separate thing, but it’s like, you know, get a domain that’s its own like URL.

That’s separate from your main URL. And like, and so that’s, I think some of why it didn’t end up being like the meaning movement course or something like that.

Raj: Yeah. Yeah. so I’m curious the people who have gone through the calling course, how many of them had a, a sort of separate sense of calling. Before they went through the calling course, like how many are kind of deprogramming from something else? Like, I mean, you and I both came outta the ministry world and, and had to go through that process.

How many people are going through that?

Dan: That’s a great question. I feel like I really only have visibility on maybe 10% of, of the members. And again, for the sake of build in public, we’re talking about like 40 something people. So the calling course has not been a, and that’s a part of the whole conversation with, with Raj and I, and, and this conversation about, you know, finding the meaning movement is like the calling course has not been a massive, uh, profit center for, for the meaning movement. Probably could, could, will, will need some retooling. but all that to say out of 40 something people 10%, maybe a little bit more than 10%, there’s less than 10 that I would feel like I have a really good sense of where they were, where they are, where they’re going, um, of those 10 or so, I would say, more than half have a, some sort of, um, Either current or past, faith background.

Um, so, of those, you know, the ones that I know, I would say, you know, six, six outta 10, and it might be more than that, that I just don’t know, cuz it hasn’t come up or, or whatever. but have had, you know, either their, they would, you know, call themselves Christians or, um, or have, have that in their, you know, in their past, you know, and whether or not they identify currently, I’m not, not certain.

Raj: Yeah. So kind of going back to that question. How many people have, and not even necessarily percentage, but just do you, do you get the sense that, you know, people in general, not even to the people who’ve gone through the calling course, but just people often kind of start out with a direction and then they hit, you know, their thirties or so, and then, and then they go, oh my gosh, this thing that I thought was a calling, maybe even big C calling from on high.

Dan: Yeah,

Raj: isn’t working out. Uh, how, how often do you run into that?

Dan: yeah. Um, I run into that quite a bit. and I, I don’t know that again, like that calling is the right word or that people use that word calling, but often, you know, people that the, the narrative that is common is I went to school, went to college, got this degree, got into the job force, got into the workforce.

I don’t like it and now I don’t know what to do. Um, and I think that’s how it, that’s how it manifests more than, More often than not. is that answering the question?

Raj: sure. Yeah. Yeah. I think, uh, you know, one of the reasons I ask is because I know that in my own life, moving out of ministry was hard because it felt like I was betraying a sense of calling. And so the idea of. Sort of going into another calling, is not something that, that I sometimes am even interested in doing, or if I am interested, it’s something I do with a, a severe amount of caution.

Um, And so I, I know that you’ve probably experienced a similar thing. So what do people do with that? When, when you, you kind of give up on that first sense of identity in your early adulthood, and then you move into just kind, what pays the bills and what works and whatever. I mean, it’s great for people who.

Who graduate high school, 18 pick their college, pick their major and, and nail it on the first try and then work for 40 years and then retire on a beach somewhere. Great. For good for you, if that’s you, you’re probably not in the right place because like, you’re, you’re just, Aing it, uh, especially if you’re also a great, you know, parent and spouse and, and, you know,

Dan: at a different level.

Raj: Yeah.

Yeah. It’s like, feel free to write the book and send it to each of us cuz, cuz that’s, that’s not 

us, but but my impression is that most people do kind of try on these different identities and, and maybe even moralize them. And then, and then when they have to make a change, they feel this sense of, of failure.

Is that, is that common?

Dan: I think it is really common. Yeah. and I think that like, and that’s one of the things that I’m, I feel like I’m always trying to push back against with. Interviews and like why I focus a lot of interviews around like people’s career stories and journeys is because it like the there’s a myth. Western society, but maybe, I don’t know.

I don’t know how people think about careers in different cultures than, than the one I I’ve I live in, but that, like, it is a singular focus. There’s one, a singular track. You get on you, you know, you, you just get on in, in elementary school, go straight through college, into the workforce and then end in retirement.

And you never change lanes. Right. But like the truth is. Most people change lanes multiple times. And I think it’s become even more and more common as work changes even more and more like just quicker and quicker. Um, and culture moves quicker and quicker. and so like, I, I feel like there’s a, a big part of like this conversation.

That’s just like normalizing. Like we need to normalize that, like having a, a winding career. Should be expected and the people who are on the singular, single track, single lane for their entire career, they’re the anomalies. They’re the ones who like, again, like similar to winning the genetics lottery, they won the career lottery and guess right on the first on the first try.

Um, I do think that like, One of the outcomes of the process of the calling course and whatever we make the calling course into and it’s future iterations is, is a freedom from the sense of obligation that we often carry when it comes into, when it comes to career that we’re supposed to do something or that we have to do something.

And instead it’s, the conversation becomes, we get to choose. Where we put our time and where we put our energy, acknowledging all the competing priorities. Like we talked about, you know, in the past episodes about success, um, in our conversation, uh, like acknowledging all the different people and voices and institutions and cultures that like, we feel that the need to appease, acknowledging that they, they they’re.

Their voices in the room and yet like maintaining the agency, maintaining the ability to choose and say, okay, with all that in mind, I know that this is important to me, and this is a direction that I can go. And a way that I often phrase it is that like calling whether you wanna talk about it calling meaning purpose.

Fulfillment, whatever one, it, it shouldn’t be a cage, right? It should be a, a free choice to give yourself to something, to be a part of, making some movement, being part of making, activating some, um, some theme of impact in through work. And it is always bigger than a job. Your job, you, your, your job may be a place to, to express.

That impact that meaning that sense of satisfaction, but it cannot encompass and, um, be like contain the totality of who you are and what is meaningful for you in the world. So there’s always a trade off, but hopefully in that trade off, there’s a freedom to say, okay, I’ve got three choices ahead of me on where, what I do with my life, where I direct my time and effort.

And I can see how different ones might have different degrees of like equate to different degrees of satisfaction. Some might pay better. Some might give me a better sense of community with my coworkers. Some might like all of these different things that might matter to me. And I get to choose which one to take there.

Isn’t a wrong answer. And I think that’s. Capital C calling. And, maybe even in career where I, I began it like, felt like you either choose, right. Or you choose wrong. So I hope you make the right choice, but no, one’s there to help you make that choice.

Raj: Yeah. And, and even the people who. Are speaking into that choice, they, they have a vested interest and it’s not necessarily in understanding you and what you’re capable of, but instead, maybe in the advancement of the church or institution or business or whatever. And, uh, you know, we, this, this isn’t just.

In ministry either, right? This is, I, I know, um, a lot of people who are in cattle ranching and the pressure on the next generation to take over, you know, for grandpa or dad, you know, is huge and. and it’s like, what if you’re born a painter to, you know, um, you know, to the son of, as the son or daughter of a cattle rancher, like it, it can, it can cause this sense of, you know, choose right.

Choose the family business or choose wrong. And it’s not just, of course it’s not just cattle, ranchers it’s any, any business that this family runner has, these expectations, you know, or, or spiritual expectations or, you know, cultural, whatever. There there’s all those places where you can kind of feel trapped.

I loved what you said about, about calling, not being a cage. And the immediate opposite thing that I thought of was, was it being a trampoline? You know, that like bouncing

Dan: such a better metaphor.

love it. 

Raj: that if you, that you’re bouncing off of it. And, um, one of the reasons I like that is because. Yeah, I had a very weird visual come to mind was that it’s almost like a trampoline, but there’s a block, a flock of birds flying by and you’re like, you might get hit in the head by stuff, you know, like you, you might get knocked down, but then you bounce back up off of that meeting off of that direction, off of that purpose.

Um, you know, in the last episode you talked about how for you success looks like providing for your family and helping other people and. That’s something you can bounce off of, you know, like it’s not, it’s not a cage. It’s something that you can, that you can, uh, go, okay, whatever I do next. Okay. I got hit in the head by bird.

I fell down, I’m go. I gotta bounce back up. And then, um, you know, and so whatever, wherever I bounce to, it’s coming from this place of a desire to provide for my family and help other people. And that could take a million different formats. Uh, and you might have to kind. You know, uh, fix it or, or, and not fix it, but you might have to kind of figure out how it shapes to, to what you wanna do, but I could honestly see somebody like you.

Um, if, if you were, uh, you know, in a hard place in your career, I could see you caring for old folks in a, in a senior home, you know, like, because that you would still have that sense of it’s paying the bills for my kid and I’m helping, uh, helping people. Is it exactly what you wanna do? Not necessarily, but could you be happy enough doing it?

Probably. Um, and that’s where it’s more of a launching thing than it is than it is a caging thing. It’s. You know, well, if I don’t, if I’m not helping people with principal psychology that I learned in my degree, then, you know, then, then I’m not doing any good in the world. It’s, it’s not that at all. We can, we 

can experience the meaning 

Dan: And I think that the tr yeah, and the, the trampoline metaphor also really fits because it’s a iterative process, like cuz we’re always growing and changing in our sense of so, so because of that, The story we we’re telling ourselves about who we are, which is the essence of identity. Identity is literally a story that’s always changing and growing.

And therefore our sense of satisfaction, purpose, engagement, calling, whatever word we want to use is also gonna have to be changing and growing with us as well. And so what’s great about the idea, a trampoline like you’re bouncing and you keep bouncing, you keep coming back to it. And that’s really what my desire has always been with.

All of my. Especially the material that’s in the calling course is that it would be an invitation to a journey. Or as you said earlier, an invitation to a struggle, and that that’s a place where that’s a resource that you can come back to and should come back to regularly every few years I would expect as you’re starting to think about.

Okay. Do I need to make some adjustments in my life. Here’s a framework that can help you think through what adjustments might need to be made and how you’re thinking about yourself and what you want and who you wanna be and how you wanna be the director of your life in the next, you know, in the next phase.

Raj: Yeah, and I , I, I wouldn’t normally correct, uh, the way you said it, but, uh, especially not on your own podcast, but what I actually said was not, not invite you to struggle, but it was invite you to embrace the struggle. because the fact is, is the, the struggle is coming regardless. Like I’m not asking, I’m not asking anybody, Hey, go struggle more than you need to.

Like, it’s it. It’s, uh, it’s that we experience this struggle. We wake up in the morning and go, I don’t feel like going to do this. And, and, and we don’t know why. And then we feel guilt. Not wanting to do it and, and maybe, and maybe even guilt about not knowing why. And so we’ve got all of these stories that are competing in each other against each other.

And especially when, when enough of them are in conflict, you wake up and sometimes you just feel like I don’t feel like doing anything at all. And, and so instead of covering that all in shame and going, oh my gosh, there’s something wrong with me. First of all, it’s incredibly normal as we just talked about.

And secondly, this is what I’m talking about is that it’s an invitation to embrace that struggle, uh, to, to see what, what it’s trying to tell you in your life. Um, and it could be anything from, I need a career change to. I pro I maybe need a little more sleep, you know, or, uh, you know, there’s, there’s any number of things that could be, connecting with that.

It could be, you know, physiological, it could be emotional, it could be spiritual, uh, all of those things. And, but this is a place where you can admit it for one. And then, uh, and then wrap your arms around it. Uh, I love, uh, I think Robert Downey Jr called it, hugging the cactus and you know, I love that metaphor.

I was just like, sometimes you just have to embrace the suck. You have to embrace the, the fact that it’s, it’s not great, but I’d rather lean into this and, and figure out what’s on the other side of this than, than just continue to feel this. And the funny thing is, is that, that that actually connects perfectly to, we, we started talking about story brand at the beginning of this and, and it connects to sort of the next part of the story brand process, which is the problem.

And I’ll tell you what, the problem is, has to be real, uh, for, for anybody, for, for any story to work, right? Because if you, you know, if, if, you know, James Bond movies were. James really trying hard to use all of his SP skills to find a lost kit. I mean, like, no, there’s, there’s a few people out there who would watch it.

Um, but, but especially if it was told in a very serious way and not funny, , you know, it’d just be like, I don’t think I’m bought into a two and a half hour movie about James, really trying to find this kitten and killing a lot of people along the way. you? It just, no, the problem has to be big. For us to want to solve it.

And, and that’s why, again, for me, it’s like, it’s about embracing the struggle. It’s like, you get to this point where you just realize that you’re not happy. Um, you know, and, and nobody likes to say those words out loud, but if you, if you’re waking up every day and you don’t have the energy to do it, and you don’t have the drive to do it, whether it’s work or dealing with the kids or going to church or whatever,

Dan: Mm.

Raj: And it’s okay to just admit like these things are not making me happy.

They’re they’re I don’t find them satisfying right now. It doesn’t mean you have to dump everything. It means that you have to kind of unpack it and figure out why what’s what’s there. And that’s what the meaning movement, the calling course, whatever has always been about. Um, that’s why, even though I never bought the calling course.

It’s always been a great community for me to be a part of because it’s, there’s anybody asking these questions and admitting that it’s normal, as opposed to just being like, yeah, everything’s fine. Just, just buy, you know, just buy LaCroix and wear your Nikes. And exactly like it’s, it’ll all be fine.

That’s fine. So, you know, so a question that I, I wanted to ask you here. So for somebody who, who wakes up in the morning and, and has that experience and go says, like, I’m just not happy right now. I’ve, I’ve got a wonderful spouse. I’ve got a job that provides for my family. I’ve got, you know, great kids and yet somehow I’m struggling with feeling satisfied with this.

which makes me feel guilty. What would you tell them?

Dan: Hmm. Hmm. Yeah, that’s good. The first thing I would say is like, what you’re experiencing is like such a human experience. And, and that it’s is okay. Not even just okay. But like, I. Actually an opportunity for you to level up and become the next, find the next iteration of, I think, you know, to use the word call, who you’re being called to be, we could use frame that differently as who, who you are becoming, you know, whatever it is that’s inside you, that’s finding, finding it’s it’s, you know, it’s way out.

and so. I think, you know, there’s this quote, I feel like it’s a Buddhist quote. I’m probably, I’m not even sure. I found it through Tim, Tim Ferris, that he, he wears a, he has a wears it on a bracelet that says, the struggle ends when gratitude begins. And that quote, just like, I feel like has been bouncing around my head for the last few years because it’s so, it’s so true.

And so to begin by. Accepting accepting where you are. Second finding gratitude that like this is, um, a good process and that there’s good, that good can come out of this. And then third, the third is to the, the process that I recommend people do is like, just to start by rewinding, like, how did I get here?

Who are the voices that have guided my process? Some of the stuff that we talked about in the last episode around success, like who are, who are the voices that are, that are guiding you into this space that have brought you here, that. That are continuing to guide your process and are those the voices that you want to, you know, want to be listening to.

And I think, you know, we could keep going from there, but I think that that alone you do that work of, you know, accepting it, finding gratitude for it. And then beginning to put some, some language around, what’s brought you to this point, then you begin to automatically find some freedom to make different choices.

Especially after you, you put some language around whose voices are guiding your process so

Raj: Yeah. And you know, it’s, it’s hard with something like this, you know, the story brand framework is about helping. Your audience understand that they’re on a heroic journey and it’s hard with one like this, where it’s easy to feel like a victim. Um, it’s easy to feel like, Hey, I took this job because you know, the wife was pregnant or, uh, whatever.

And I had to make a certain income and then I got promoted and now I kind of feel stuck and, you know, whatever, uh, you know, whatever kind of got you to this point, it’s, it’s easy to feel like a victim of circumstance in that and something I would just encourage. Anybody who feels that way? Um, or even if you feel like you chose your own.

Yeah. I started, I started a business. I joined another business and there’s days where it’s like, what is wrong with me? Uh, like, well, I chose all of this. Um, anybody who’s feeling that way. It’s important to note that while, struggling with these things and embracing that struggle may feel like. Giving up or giving in to, uh, you know, to your feelings.

it’s actually really brave.

Dan: Yes.

Raj: your kids will respect you when they get older and, and they experience these kind of crises for themselves and, and they go. I know that dad has the answer to this. I know that mom has the answer to this because I’ve seen them be really honest about the things that weren’t working.

you know, anytime anybody’s ever like changed a church or left a job or, um, decided they’re not gonna be part of an abusive relationship anymore, or kind of any of those things that those kind of major transitions in your life. it gives them an expertise in how to do that in, in how to lead to other people.

You, so you actually go from being heroic to becoming.

Dan: I love that.

Raj: And so, don’t think of it as giving into the struggle. Think of it as stepping into your heroic journey over that struggle. And at the beginning it looks like getting your rear end kicked. It looks that way for every, you know, for every hero. In fact, that’s part of the heroes journey is that often they reject the, the call to become a.

and then another part of it is they experience defeat early on. Uh, you know, you think about, uh, when Luke is on the millennium Falcon and he is trying to learn, learn the force and that little droid keeps shooting him, you know, and he’s not good at it. Um, you know, or he, his, his, his mentor dies and it feels like his it’s his fault in some way that he didn’t, they didn’t stick together as a band.

And, and, you know, he had to leave his, his mentor behind to be killed by Darth Vader. I’d use another movie, but I’m, it was a huge star risk geek, but, um, you know, and so it’s okay if it feels like hugging and cactus right now, it’s okay. If it feels like failure to even admit that you feel depressed or discouraged about a job that you should be fine with and a family that, um, that you know that you love and care for, but may drive you crazy at the moment.

It’s okay. Like that’s actually the beginning of your hero.

Dan: Yes. I love it. I love it. Yeah. And I think that that’s, you know, just a great, great place to push the, push the pause button and leave folks with that. You know, I hope we’ve given you some permission.

Um, if you’re in that kind of a space. To, uh, to know that it’s, okay, know, it’s part of the process and such a human process that billions of people are going through with you currently.

Um, and, um, that, that by entering in, like it’s the struggles happening, whether or not you want to accept it and the best way to move through it is to let it happen and, and be a part of the process, along with the struggle. So

Raj: A hundred percent.

Dan: we’ll call it a wrap there and, uh, we’ll catch you next time, Raj.

Raj: Awesome. Thanks Dan.Dan: Thank you.

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