Going beyond 120 minutes into the messiness that’s life.

What's your script?On average each scene in a movie is 1 ½ minutes or less.

Longer and the movie starts to drag. And because each scene needs to work with the next to tell a complete story in 120 minutes or less for most, they work hard, bringing together all the details of sight, sound, mood, and dialogue to communicate emotion. Raising us up and bringing us down. Making us laugh, cry, smile, scream or wince.  It’s remarkable how quickly a good movie from script and dialogue and draw us in, transport us somewhere else. And likewise, one that’s poorly constructed bores and pushes us away.

Consider too, how many people it takes to make a movie. Most you never see or know. The grips, stylists, camera operators, sound technicians and more.  Just like our lives, there are many people who play a role – some insignificant but important: think about the barista you get your coffee from each day who smiles at you, turning your day around. Or maybe it’s the guy at the lunch shop. Or wherever you go regularly and have fleeting conversations. Perhaps it’s #UsGuys.

We don’t often think about how these micro conversations shape our thinking and influence our mood. But they matter. Just as much as the deeper relationships we build. Like the movies, there are so many unsung heros that contribute to your own story. Take a moment to think about a couple that have influenced you.

Movies are a tidy package.

A beginning, middle and end. Our lives also have the same. We know the beginning, but we don’t exactly know the middle or the end. We can influence that via lifestyle. Nor can we watch it more than once. Fast forward through the boring parts. Or rewind and experience the most exciting moments again. No, we have to embrace each moment – live in the present as we look toward the future.  Our lives are not a tidy package. They’re messy, unedited. Not artfully choreographed. Raw. We don’t get to leave the unsavory parts on the cutting room floor. We get the good, bad and ugly pureed together.

Our lives may last longer than 120 minutes, but that doesn’t mean we should fritter those minutes away. Something I’m getting more and more conscious of as I watch my daughter grow. Nor do we have a predefined script that we rehearse. But we could take a more proactive approach to our script. We live at the bleeding edge of improv, certainly

Just as we don’t chop our days into 1-1/2 minute, we need to consider the longer term implications of our actions. What’s our vision? How will we sustain what we do longer than the average movie? The things that matter that is. Can we persevere in the face of the naysayers and obstacles that thwart us? Or as Seth Godin writes, the lizard brain that hinders forward action?

Think about your script. Would anyone want to read it? Watch it? Think about the details that create the complete story. Influence those you can. Create magical experiences for those around you when you can. They needn’t be difficult. What would your movie look like?  Is it a comedy? A thriller, mystery or drama?

And when you communicate with those around you, think about the words you choose. The emotions you attach to them and where you share them. Make them matter.  It’s much harder to create a life that’s as interesting as a movie. Much harder to craft compelling 1-1/2 minute scenes on the fly.

The closest most of us get to acting on stage are the presentations we make. Perhaps if we put the effort into our presentations that goes into making movies, we could really make a difference.

This is part of #UsBlogs weekly theme:

Our theme this week was suggested by Heidi Cohen (@heidicohen).

Appropriate for this Academy-Awards weekend – especially when the Facebook movie competes – our theme looks at what we can learn from the movies, awards, and entertainment industry in general!



  1. David McGraw says:

    As actors on the stage of life, we play many roles every day. The day is only a 2 hours old for me and I have already been a husband, father, coach, and business man. I will wear many more hats throughout the day. Each hat many only stay on my head for a 1-1/2 minutes. In those 90 seconds, I have the ability to deliver my gifts to the world. I have the ability to participate in life. I have the ability to create a memorable scene.

    I really enjoy your perspective on life. You are a wonderful storyteller. Keep writing memorable scenes.

  2. Gabriella O'Rourke says:

    Patrick – I love that you forced us to think about the people who play a role in our lives and our stories and how important they are to our overall journey.
    …”Our lives are not a tidy package. They’re messy, unedited. Not artfully choreographed. Raw. We don’t get to leave the unsavory parts on the cutting room floor. We get the good, bad and ugly pureed together.” So true – which is why we have to live these moments and not just get drawn along for the ride to the inevitable “The End…” conclusion. Several great points made me nod and are worth reflecting on further. I work hard every day to make sure what I say and do with my family is not carefully scripted and mentally rehearsed but hopefully is more real and joyfully ‘improv’. I don’t always manage it (scripts are easier when we are too busy to truly engage) but your post encourages me to keep trying.

  3. Nice take, Patrick! I remember as a kid, wondering why my life wasn’t as funny as the sitcoms on TV. Even without the laugh track, those scenes on TV were so much funnier! I think it was just easier to buy into the fantasies back then, without paying attention to all the people involved in crafting 30 minute TV shows to be just so.

    Then came high school and college. Now those were good times that we still laugh about to this day! Suddenly, real life WAS funnier than TV!

    Ever since, I’ve seen how we really do have a lot of control over crafting our “show”. As Shakespeare said, “All the world is a stage.” We are in charge of our own scripts.

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