I rarely watch movies more than once and never watch the same movie in the theatre more than once! But a couple of months ago I found myself in the movie theatre twice in one week when I decided to watch the new live-action version of Aladdin.
Between the catchy lyrics and the bright bold colors, Aladdin captivated the senses more than I’ve witnessed in any other movie. And don’t get me started on how Will Smith honored Robin Williams’ portrayal of the genie while still making it his own!! I’m embarrassed (but barely) to admit that the movie’s soundtrack lives in my “recently played” section on Spotify.
Every story is formulaic – Aladdin is no exception. As the hero, Aladdin wants something – to marry the princess. He has a problem – he doesn’t have money or status to marry her and feels hopeless about it. Then he meets the guide – Genie! The genie gives him a plan, calls him to take action so he can achieve success (marrying the princess) and avoid failure (being killed by Jafar.)
When we talk about our work through this story lense, we should be making our customers the hero while we are the guide. Most businesses push back on this concept because we are used to being the hero in our own stories. But the truth is, our customers care more about what we can do for them than our origin story, about us page, etc. If we start telling our story with our customer as the hero, they’ll want us to be a part of their story.
Here’s the secret that will comfort our business-building egos, the guide is actually the strongest character. Not in the “I-am-large-and-in-charge-and-will-take-you-down” sense of strong, but in the “been-there-done-that-I’ve-got-your-back” sense of strong. The guide has more experience and more knowledge. They just don’t take the limelight. And fair warning, the moment you steal the limelight, the hero will go find a different guide (AKA you’ll lose your client).
This is why Genie is the PERFECT example of a guide. He is technically the strongest character in the story (minus the fact that he is bound to a master). He helps Aladdin figure out how he will capture the princess’s heart. While it does take Aladdin a little bit to figure out the correct approach, the genie consistently shows Aladdin the way forward and calls him to take action!
But here’s the key: Genie never tries to become the hero. Let’s be honest, that would be a terrible story.
As you think about your own story and your customer’s story, are you taking the role of the guide or do you find yourself slipping back into the hero’s place?