If you haven’t heard of Donald Miller, you should definitely look him up. I started reading his books when I was in college and I connected with him so deeply that my boyfriend and I actually broke up because he disagreed with something Don said (Don’t feel too bad for him, I ended up marrying him three years later after he came to his senses).
Don started out as an author and later realized that the framework for writing a great story could also be utilized in the business world. In addition to writing NY Times best-selling books, he now helps businesses tell a better story and reframe how they do marketing. I had the privilege of attending Don’s Storybrand conference and the things he teaches could revolutionize the way we talk about chiropractic. (Yes, I met Don. Yes, I totally fan-girled.)
At this conference I learned that story is the most powerful thing to compel a human brain. Did you know that Americans spend 10 billion dollars on movies per year? Science shows that when you’re in a movie, you begin to live so vicariously through the protagonist that your brain thinks you’re living out their story. In those two hours of sitting in the movie theater, you get the experience of being the hero and living out a great story.
As humans, we crave that experience. We all want to feel like the hero in our own story. We dream of it as kids – saving the world, inventing something new, or solving the mystery. As adults, that inner desire never changes. We want to be the hero in our story.
The Formula of Story
From Harry Potter, to Lord of the Rings, to Sleepless in Seattle – Every great story has these same basic elements:
- A character who wants something. (Joe Schmoe wants to date Amazing Amy.)
- A problem that keeps the character from getting what he wants. (Amy doesn’t know Joe exists.)
- A guide who shows empathy and authority. (Joe’s uncle who has always looked out for him.)
- A plan from the guide. (Get noticed by Amy.)
- A call to action. (Do something awesome in front of Amy.)
- This results in success. (Amy loves Joe.)
- Or results in failure. (Amy thinks Joe is a moron.)
The Three Problems
In the really great stories, the hero has three problems. The first is external. In our example of Joe wanting to date Amy, the external problem would be that she doesn’t notice him. In Star Wars, the external problem would be the Death Star.
The second is internal. Joe’s internal problem is the question of, “Am I worthy of love?” In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker’s internal problem is, “Do I have what it takes?”
The third is philosophical. With Joe, it would be the question of whether or not the underdog can overcome. With Luke, it’s good versus evil.
If the story is well-written, the climactic scene at the end will solve all three problems. Yes, Joe can impress Amy, proving that he is worthy of love and that the underdog can win! Yes, Luke can blow up the Death Star proving that he has what it takes to be a Jedi and that good triumphs over evil!
Bring it home
So let’s apply all this to our patients. When your patient comes in, he or she is the character in their story and all three problems are in play. Their external problem would usually be that their back hurts. The internal question could be, “Will I be able to play with my kids again?” or “Will I have to stop doing what I love?” or simply “Will I be okay?” The philosophical issue might be whether or not life is fair, hope is real, or if second chances exist. It will usually address the idea that life shouldn’t be like this.
As the guide, your job is to figure out what your patient is struggling with, and give them a plan that can answer all three questions, thus enabling them to live out their story as the hero. Your patients need to feel your empathy and that you understand how hard this problem is for them. They also need to see your authority – that you have a plan to help that has helped others like them.
The Happy Ending
What kind of dialogue happens when you talk to your patients? Is it all about you and how awesome you are? Or is it about them and how you can help them live out their awesome life?
Take a look at your website and marketing materials. Do they communicate how you’re a guide with authority and empathy who can help people be the hero in their life? Every word you speak and every text you write is an opportunity to communicate this.
You know what kind of life your patients can have by living the chiropractic lifestyle. As their guide, you help make their happy endings possible. You can help them have the energy to play with their grandkids, sleep through the night so they wake up refreshed every day, and look forward to the future instead of fear it. You are Yoda, helping them access what’s already inside them and letting them know that they have what it takes to live the extraordinary, heroic life they always dreamed of. May the force be with you.
In light and love,