Learning Story and People from “The Martian”

I recently saw the movie The Martian with Matt Damon. In the film, Matt Damon’s character is struck by a piece of debris on Mars during a storm. The debris pierces his life sign monitor and he is knocked out. His team cannot find him, reads no life signs, and cannot get him on their communication devices. They assume him dead and leave him on Mars to start the 9 month journey back.

Matt Damon awakes the next morning to find himself in nearly every human being’s worse nightmare. He is totally alone on another planet months away from home. He is forced to live in tight spaces. He can only go outside in a space suit (the movie made me a little claustrophobic). The debris that struck him was part of the communication system so he has no way to contact earth to even let them know he is alive. He is wounded from the debris that struck him. His biggest problem is that he only has enough food for a few months and there is no way for a rescue mission to get to him in time.

The story then unfolds about him trying to stay alive and contact earth while NASA, eventually figuring out that he is alive, tries to do what they can to help him and get him back.

This is a story happening on Mars, yet somehow it is an incredibly human story. Who has not felt pain and hunger? Who has not felt trapped? How often do we feel alone and without help? How often do we have fears or feel like giving up?

The film works (and is outstanding) because iwe can all identify with it. We can see ourselves in it. We may not have to survive on Mars, but we do have to survive today.

That is the power of story. And when you understand how story works it gives you great leverage for living and leading differently.

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