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Raise the Stakes

One of my favorite storytelling books reveals the secret to a great story. In the book Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks, he tells us that every great story has one thing in common: it must have stakes. Audiences remain engaged with the story because they know what the character has to lose or gain, or in other words, what is at stake should they fail or succeed.

In general, the higher the stakes the more engaged people will be with the story. Take Marvel's The Avengers movies for example. The stakes in almost every movie is the survival of the human race. What stakes could be higher? And we demonstrated our engagement by making them some of the most watched movies ever.

I began to consider this in the context of our lives, our stories. I think most people that find themselves disengaged from their own lives have forgotten or never realized what is at stake in their story. In their relationships, in their professions, in their belief systems, in their habits.

If you find yourself feeling disengaged from any aspect of your life, maybe you just need to remind yourself of what is at stake.

Maybe you've taken your relationships for granted. I encourage to remember what would be lost if you no longer had that relationship. Simply reminding ourselves of the stakes can help us feel engaged in parts of our life we may have lost hope in.

This can also be a litmus test to see if change needs to occur. If you hate your job, and can't clearly identify what is stake if you no longer had the job, then maybe it's time to seek new opportunities. In this instance you may ask, "Well my benefits, salary, and financial security is at stake." I'd content that true stakes, those that really matter, are not easily replaceable. Salary and benefits are both easily replaceable.

It's possible to live a life that you feel connected to, that you feel engaged in. Simply raise the stakes.


Identify one area of your life you feel disconnected from. Ask someone close to you what would be at stake if that area was no longer in your life.


What is at stake in your current profession? Are you satisfied with the answer?


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