Bernie Anderson
BA blog banner_no text.png

the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Story and Leadership: The Crisis

I became friends with that short girl with the red hair. In fact, we became best friends and helped each other through some tough times.

In storytelling speak, these are "progressive complications".

When watching a movie or reading a book, watch for them. After the inciting incident, there will be a series of events that happen to the protagonist. In a well-told story, these events will squeeze her so that she has to move. To decide things. To act.

The way this happens varies from genre to genre.

In a love story it's the series of events that moves the couple toward being together.

In a thriller it's a series of events that bring about the confrontation between good and evil. Life and death.

In a mystery the progressive complications are typically the surprises, turns, twists brought about by new information revealed through the questioning of every suspect.

This is important to keep in mind when crafting stories and personal analogies for the purpose of influence and leadership.

A great story has a beginning. An inciting incident. Something that happens which sparks a series of events. For our purposes, it doesn't have to be a long, complicated series of events. Stories with a long, complicated series of events are best left for novels and the movies. Keep it simple. But use the parts that make it interesting.

Inciting incident:

I met a short red-haired girl.

Then there are a series of events that move this story forward (progressive complications):

Over time we became best friends. We had a lot of fun together. We also helped each other through some tough times.

This leads to the third part of the story: The Crisis.

The final "progressive complication" should lead to a crisis complication. The crisis is where a decision is made that changes everything. Where there is no turning back. Once decided, life changes for everyone involved.

Here's the crisis in my own personal love story.

One day we had a conversation in which we revealed our true feelings for each other. We actually loved each other.

This is the crisis. The decision. The ultimate revelation. It should leave the hearer with a little bit of tension.

Will this mean we take the risk on each other? Will we move forward together?

The crisis is the cliffhanger. The moment right before the decision is made. In many stories, life and death hang in balance. The protagonist must do something. She must answer a question that will change everything.


Every good story has one. Look for it when you watch a TV show or a movie, or when you read a book.

It's not always life or death. But it's the question of change. Should we stay where we are? Or should we move on?

The crisis question varies from story to story - but in all the good stories the question is there.

What will we decide?