Supporting Your Why

WhyStrong leaders know that passion motivates their team and produces high returns on their products/services. This passion is the heart of the company or the reason why the company does what it does. It’s the one filter that everything being worked must be analyzed through.

I recently reviewed a film script that was being produced by an Atheist and a Christian. I found it fascinating that they set their religious differences to the side in order to make a great story. I was also eager to see how the film turned out due to the diverse passions they brought to the table.

However, the screenplay had some major flaws in it. I asked both men how they’d deal with the hole in the plot and they both instinctively knew how the story needed to end, but couldn’t understand how to get there. So I asked if they’d like my input and they agreed.

I asked one question: Why are you making THIS story?

They both answered in almost perfect unison, “To show the audience that people can change with every choice they make including the decision to show a weaker person kindness.”

Here is how I responded…

If a person is going to change, it needs to be the protagonist. (Although other characters can also change.) Therefore ACT 1 must show the unchanged protagonist in his normal flawed life. In ACT 2A, the protagonist must be introduced to the possibility of change or at least the contrast between his current life and his possible life. In ACT 2B, the protagonist must battle through his internal and external obstacles to overcome whom he is to give room for who he can become. In ACT 3, he must look at his flaw from a new perspective and turn it into the thing that catapults him through the change into his new life.

The restructuring of their story based on their agreed “why” drove a dynamic rewrite that made the story award worthy. It also drove their shared passion into the story itself. The rewrite was simple when they filtered every thing through their powerful why.

In the independent filmmaking business, the number one thing that kills great stories is when the writer loses track of the why. Writers are naturally drawn down interesting rabbit holes that take the story in a significantly different direction. The only way to stay true to the story is to understand why you’re writing it to begin with.

When I created Tried & True with Guy Cote and Anthony DeRosa, I started the story with the following why: To help people realize they are trapped in a comfortable, false freedom and need to break free to experience a true adventurous freedom that is available to all who seek it.

Unfortunately we didn’t use the why as a filter during the writing process and ended up having a different story with each draft. Each version would make a great film, but there would only be one version that matched our passion – The one we had neglected to write. It became clear that one more run at a rewrite was necessary to birth the version that we could all passionately get behind.

Filtering everything through your why will keep you focused and headed in the direction you originally intended. Everyone has a why to follow, whether in business, among family, or in creative endeavors. And, everyone can shine brightly in a profound way that the world needs when their life’s output reflects their why.

Copyright © 2015 by CJ Powers

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