Pip Decks

Circle of Life

From Episode 6 of the weekly Storyteller Tactics episodes

Each week we release a new story and two Storyteller Tactics cards from the deck, launching on Kickstarter later this year.

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What is the Circle of Life story tactic?

We're born, we learn new things, we become adults. Our time passes and the next generation takes over.

We all share certain stages in life's journey. So we can all recognize the same basic characters we meet along the way. Carl Jung said these "archetypes" are buried deep in our collective unconscious. They emerge in our best-loved stories. And you can use them to understand the journey your user is on.

Tip: use this tactic ahead of a Hero and Guide session. And rewatch The Lion King (with Elton John's brilliant Circle of Life song) for a bit of inspiration.

ℹ️ Remember: story is everywhere.

When you tell stories, people pay attention, and most importantly - stories are never forgotten. 

The opportunities for using Storyteller Tactics in your work are endless. From emails, pitches, job interviews, or show and tells.

There's no right or wrong way to use them. Experiment and play. You'll find what works best for you.

How to use Circle of Life story tactic

Create a Circle of Life on a wall or whiteboard - ie; draw a big circle!

  • Arrange these basic archetypes around the circle (see diagram) in order of life stage.
  • Remember, characters have light / dark sides. The light side wants good for others, the dark side is selfish.

At the beginning of the Circle of Life we have:

  • Infant: Innocent / Naive
  • Father: Benevolent / Tyrannical
  • Mother: Nurturing / Smothering

The child grows up to be a teenager, becoming or meeting these archetypes:

  • Jester: Playful / Trickster
  • Rebel: Maverick / Cheat
  • Friend: Mates / Gang

The teenager becomes an adult, realising more archetypes:

  • Warrior: Brave / Aggressive
  • Lover: Sensuous / Seductive
  • The Explorer: Curious / Rootless

Finally, the adult reaches maturity. Now it's their turn to become Father/Mother, or one of the mature archetypes: 

  • The Sage: Wise / Dogmatic
  • The Magician: Transformative / Sinister

Remember, we can connect to these archetypes at any stage in our lives. ie; old people can be naive; children can be adventurous.

  • How can these help you understand your user?
  • Which life stage are they at?
  • Which archetypal roles are they playing?
  • Are they acting out light or dark roles?
  • Which archetypal role are YOU playing? How are you helping your user's journey?


Read more: C.Jung, Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

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