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I’m currently reading Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward for the second time. 

I pulled it down from my bookshelf after talking to a handful of people who feel like their soul is in a wrestling match with the rest of the world. 

Careers in flux. Identities in crisis. Life-goals in detour. 

Every word of Richard’s is powerful. It’s like he sees every threadbare part of your soul and knows exactly what it needs to find fullness. 

A Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province, Rohr founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, almost 40 years ago. And while he doesn’t have the magical power to live 500 years, he speaks with a transgenerational wisdom that makes you feel like you’d better pull up a chair and do nothing else besides listen closely to his every word. 

“In the first half of life, we are naturally and rightly preoccupied with establishing our identity – climbing, achieving, and performing,” he says in Falling Upward. “But those concerns will not serve us as we grow older and begin to embark on a further journey, one that involves challenges, mistakes, loss of control, broader horizons, and necessary suffering that actually shocks us out of our prior comfort zone. Eventually, we need to see ourselves in a different and more life-giving way.” 

And what is that life-giving way, according to Rohr? Well, you should read the book to find out – but if you’re short on time, the gist is this: We need to stop running from our wrestling matches with the world and start embracing them as the necessary journey that takes us from where we’re at to where we’re supposed to go. 

Put another way: The only way to move up in life is by falling down. 

It’s funny to me when I think about this because, in theory, I think we all nod our head in agreement to this idea (oohing and ahhing like we’re an audience member in Oprah’s studio).

But in action, we’re more like a new parent standing over their newborn’s blowout diaper.  We know it’s all necessary, but we wish to God we didn’t have to do it. 

Zeroing in just on the corner of my world of branding and storytelling, I see this aversion a lot – and it’s often packaged with the beautiful invitation to reinvent ourselves.  

If the old way isn’t working, we’re told never to fear. A new story can be written! A new path forged! 


What if our current way of being is hard because it’s preparing us for the next phase of our life – and what if, by rushing to rewrite it entirely, we rob ourselves of all the joy and growth and wisdom that are waiting for us on the other side? 

When we rush to rewrite our story, I think what we’re really doing is chasing the big stories of life. 

We think that we’ve got to climb big mountains (real or figuratively). We’ve got to secure huge wins, show up in head-turning ways – and if we don’t have any of those markers, then we don’t have a story worth telling. 

But that’s just horse feathers (as my mother-in-law loves to say). 

Because big stories might render awe, but they’re not the ones that catalyze soul-lasting change. 

This is why I’ve recently moved away from the language and idea of “telling bigger stories.” 

For me, the best part of living is hardly ever found in the big stories – so it doesn’t make a lick of sense for me to be urging others to find and tell their big stories. 

Instead, it’s the tiny moments that usually wind up taking our breath away and sparking the biggest shifts in our lives: A good book pulled back down from the shelf to deliver just-right truths at the perfect time, coffee bought from a drive-through where everyone smiles and makes you remember why it’s so amazing to be a human being, a child’s broken heart over the plight of someone facing war, a too-early goodbye and an unexpected hello, a co-worker’s excitement over making their first commission-based sale. . .  

These are the moments that reinforce who we are and what we believe – because they awaken us to the parts of our world that matter most and force us to stand face-to-face with who we want to be versus who we’re actually becoming. 

When we allow these tiny stories to show up in our lives, and when we take the time to acknowledge the powerful insights they’re gifting us with, only then can they cement our legacy into the world.

I’ll be talking more about how to find and tell your own tiny stories in the weeks and months ahead, but until then, I’d love to just encourage you with this final word: 

If you feel like you’re wrestling against the world. . .

If you feel like opportunity has sped by you and you’ve lost your chance to grab on. . . 

If you feel like your stories don’t matter because they’re not big and grand. . . 

then take note of the tiny stories unfolding before you right now, this very moment. 

Yes, the world is in flux, but that’s not new. It was formed out of chaos. 

And yet. 

Out of that chaos came something mind-blowingly beautiful, and somehow – your life became a part of that grand story, too. 

You don’t need big stories to make a difference. 

You just need tiny stories that compound into something you may not even understand until you finally fall upwards.