Riding the Arc of the Story: Threshold Guardians

RIDING THE ARC OF THE STORY: THRESHOLD GUARDIANS

What’s up with the resistance?

You know the one. The resistance that comes shortly after you decide to launch a new creative endeavor. The resistance that whispers in your ear that maybe the idea isn’t that great, or you really don’t have the time, or you’re really not so good after all.

Maybe it doesn’t affect you. If not, I’m willing to bet you’re in the minority. For a lot of people, the initiatory phase of a project can be a very painful back-and-forth play of initiative and doubt.

I’m currently working on a program I’ll be delivering at the European Conference on Creativity and Innovation in Brussels at the end of the month, called “Riding the Arc of the Story: Harnessing Literary and Dramatic Techniques for Effective Implementation,” and it’s given me some insights about resistance, narrative structure, and the Hero’s Journey.

Evidently, as soon as the hero begins her journey, she is met at the threshold by beings whose purpose it is to provide initial resistance in the form of a test: is the hero up for the challenge? They’re called “threshold guardians,” and they can show up as friends, family, foes…or even part of our own psyche, our shadow.

The concept of the threshold guardian gives us a new way of looking at internal resistance to the early phases of a project. Now, instead of either giving in to the temptation to pull away, or feeling like we have to muscle through and pretend the resistance isn’t there, we can remind ourselves that we might be on the threshold, and this might be only a test. Of the emergency threshold guardian system. And it’s ok.

The next time you find yourself hitting that resistance wall, ask yourself: is this a wall? or might it actually be an opening. Might you actually be on the threshold of something entirely new?

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