Saying “Yes, And” to a Better Story

Text on a page in an old-fashioned typewriter saying "What's your story?"

Image credit: michaklootwijk

Will you write a “yes, and” story or a “yes, but” one?

Last week I shared a story here titled “You Are Not Alone,” about how realizing I was not the only one going through business doldrums turned out to be helpful.

That story resonated with many and I got some great support and feedback.

(I didn’t actually think of that as a down or depressed tale, but rather as a way of sharing something that might help others. But I can see how it might come across differently, and I appreciate all the comments and outreach!)

So things were slow, and then the very next day we encountered another setback.

My wife was all set to take a job in the fall which would have helped financially quite a bit, but at the last minute when we thought everything was all set, it fell through.


This led to some immediate fear, negativity, and “yes, buts.” 

“Yes, but I was really counting on that.”
“Yes, but what will we do now?”
“Yes, but the universe clearly hates us.”

I’ll admit, I indulged these feelings for a while.

But then I felt a shift. 

You see, I love the art of Story.

I study it, I use it in my speaking and improv, and I also write fiction.

It helped me realize that this setback was what writers would call the  “act 2 climax/all is lost moment.”

Every great story has it.

The moment when Rocky realizes he can’t beat Apollo Creed.
The moment the boat breaks down and Brody has no way to beat the shark.
The moment the alien queen captures Newt and Ripley has to save her.

And every hero at this moment digs deep, bounces back, and figures it out.

At this moment, I could choose the story I wanted to tell.

I could tell a “yes, but” story about how things would never work out, how they were hard, unfair, etc., and wallow in negativity.

OR I could tell a “yes, and” story about using this moment to regroup, pivot, and redouble my efforts to create a narrative of triumph, fun, and joy.

I know which one I picked.

How about you? What is the narrative you are currently telling and living? What is the narrative you want to create?

You choose: will it be a “yes, but” story or a “yes, and” one?

You know the answer. Now go do it!

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