It’s all about the setup.
This is a line from Amor Towles great book The Lincoln Highway. It’s also a principle that I now spot everywhere. My work in authoring novels, in facilitating rooms of entrepreneurs, and also… occasionally, these days, hosting groups of tourists for safari… this idea pops up everywhere.
Joseph Campbell’s construct for the Hero’s Journey (the base plot for all Greek myths, and Star Wars and Harry Potter) goes like this: The (often innocent and ill-equipped) hero is called to adventure. There are many setbacks along the way, but when all seems lost, the hero discovers something within themselves that helps them overcome all obstacles and ultimately triumphs, and then returns home the wise teacher.
So it’s all about the setup. The hero, at the start, needs to face adversity. The hero needs to endure. The hero needs to turn things around. I saw this in action a few times this last week:
Example #1: Rain rain rain on safari
We hosted a group on the Garden Route for a safari experience. On arrival, it was just messy. Rain basically ruined the first safari drive, the food service was iffy and by the end of day one I wasn’t convinced that this trip would turn out well. Boy was I wrong. Day 2 was pure awesomeness. Clear skies and good sightings, then compounded by a magnificent catamaran cruise on the Knysna lagoon and a bus full of singing and dancing delegates back to the hotel. A shaky start, an awesome recovery. And the joy of day 2 was intensified by the challenges of day 1.
Example #2: Monster Jam
I was astounded by this. Giant-wheeled trucks doing crazy things in the stadium dirt cheered on by 48,000 spectators. Never mind my kids, I loved it. These giant machines manned by burly Texans created havoc the whole night on the various obstacles. Except for one. Right in front of us was a ramp that no one went near. It seemed too hard, too dangerous. It sat there, beckoning, unexplored. All the trucks have themes, and a quick crowd favourite was the female-steered Dalmation. A plucky outsider with a big red tongue flapping out the bonnet, we all groaned when Dalmation placed low, and even worse, engine trouble meant she wouldn’t even get to compete in the final.
But then Dalmation’s trouble was fixed in the nick of time. The crowd was restless. Not one of the other drivers had even attempted the big ramp. They had flirted with it, and surely Dalmation wouldn’t be the one to try. Surely? But oh yes she did. Doing a pass… no… another look… no… and then she went for it.
To thunderous applause, Dalmation did a death-defying backflip that ended in a pretty bad crash. But the driver climbed out of the wreckage, waved to the crowd… and claimed first prize on the day. Compelling drama, and pure entertainment.
It’s all about the setup.
In our business, we have a core value of Underpromise and Overdeliver. That’s all about the setup, too. But there’s more to it than that. Crafting the story in a way that builds the experience is valuable. It’s stressful too when you are the one crafting the story for others, but that’s what we promise to do both in PG Tops Coaching and Classic Escapes. And as a family, for that matter. Young kids are hard, but on a night like Saturday night, with Dalmation reigning supreme, all seems good with the world.