What's Your Story?

“What’s Your Story?”
That’s a question with a lot of meanings, isn’t it? The cop who asks “what’s your story?” implies nothing you tell him will be believed. The business networking contact may mean, “I want to get to know you, but in brief.” Then there’s its neutral, direct sense--why might we ask it that way?
Turns out it can help you set up a business, get through a probate, or do your own life planning.
Cutting edge research (have a look at a 2015 article in layman’s terms in The Atlantic , or from the professional side) shows forming and passing down personal narratives is both inevitable and capable of being managed to benefit ourselves and the people around us. It appears that families whose traditions include a story arc of “How We Became the Joneses” give their members a greater sense of direction and meaning. People who find themes of agency in their own stories as they write them in therapy have improved outcomes over those who avoid telling their stories or can’t find a way to see their own agency in their life events. And of course, there’s the recent emphasis on raison d’être in business such as Simon Sinek’s Start with Why.
There is a person in my life I’d really like to help with planning, pro bono. I have offered this service to her. Her sons are disabled and she needs to lay out her wishes for them in enforceable documents. But she can’t bring herself to do it, even for free and with my help, because she’s stymied by her own personal narrative—she sees the entire universe working against her, right down to the social service agencies, church, landlord, and other parties she deals with every day. She maintains a schizophrenic inability to believe in her own agency while insisting she is the only person in her life she can trust to act in her interests. The story she tells herself has become an insuperable obstacle to planning.
I am increasingly sure that sound planning does, indeed, “start with why.” I have always asked clients, “what’s our goal here?” As I consider how I can help clients achieve better results, I am adding services such as writing ethical Wills, formulating business goals that embody the business’s reason for being, nominations for guardianship or standby guardianship declarations that are backed up with affidavits stating reasons. I’m adding “and why is that the goal?” to clients’ planning processes. Really, I’m asking, “what’s your story?”
If you agree legal planning will produce better results when it’s connected to some clear thinking on personal narrative, give me a call (651-280-0002). I’d love to help you answer “What’s your story?” and make your planning fit that arc.