Your Life is Your Story

001_large Fellini

Your life is the most important story you will ever tell, and you are telling it right now, whether you know it or not. From very early on you are spinning and telling multiple stories about your life, publicly and privately, stories that have a theme, a tone, a premise – whether you know it or not.  Some stories are for better, some for worse. No one lacks material. Everyone’s got a story.

And thank goodness. Because our capacity to tell stories is, I believe just about our profoundest gift. Perhaps the true power of the story metaphor is best captured by this seemingly contradiction:  we employ the word ‘story’ to suggest both the wildest of dreams (it is just a story ……) and an unvarnished depiction of reality (okay, what is the story?). How is that for range?

There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life -Federico Fellini

The challenge? Most of us are not writers. That is what I intend to do here in this hero’s journey. First, explore with you how pervasive story is in life, your life, and second, to rewrite it.

Story is everywhere in life. Perhaps your story is that you are responsible for the happiness and livelihoods of dozens of people around you and you are the unappreciated hero. If you are focused on one subplot – your business – then maybe your story is that you sincerely want to execute the major initiatives in your company, yet you are restricted in some essential way. Maybe your story is that you must keep chasing even though you already seem to have a lot (even too much) because the point is to get more and more of it – money, prestige, power, control, attention. Maybe your story is that you and your children just can’t connect. Or your story might be essentially a rejection of another story – and everything you do is filtered through that rejection.

You have to live spherically – in many directions. Never lose your childish enthusiasm – and things will come your way – Federico Fellini

Story is everywhere. Your body tells a story. The smile or frown on your face, your shoulders thrust back in confidence or slumped roundly in despair, the liveliness or fatigue in your gait, the sparkle of hope and joy in your eyes or the blank stare, your fitness, the size of your gut, the tone and strength of your physical being, your overall presentation – those are all part of your story, one that’s especially apparent to everyone else. We judge books by their covers not simply because we are wired to judge quickly but because the cover so often provides astonishing accurate clues to what is going on inside. What is your story about your physical self? Does it truly work for you? Can it take you where you want to go in the short term? How about ten years from now? What about thirty?

You have a story about your company, though your version may depart wildly from your customer’s or business partners. You have a story about your family. Anything that consumes our energy can be a story, even if we don’t always call it a story. There is the story of your relationship. The story of you and food, or you and anger, or you and impossible dreams. The story of you, the friend. The story of you,  your father’s son or your mother’s daughter. Some of these stories work and some of them fail. According to my experience, an astounding number of these stories, once they are identified are deemed tragic – not by me, mind you but by the people living them.

Like it or not, there will be a story around your death. What will it be? Will you die a senseless death? Perhaps you drank too much and failed to buckle your seat belt and were thrown from your car, or you died from colon cancer because you refused to undergo an embarrassing colonoscopy years before when the disease was treatable. Or after years of bad nutrition, no exercise, and abuse of your body, you suffered a fatal heart attack at age fifty – nine.  ‘Senseless death’ means that it did not have to happen when it happened;  it means your story did not have to end the way it ended. Think about the effect the story of your senseless death might have on your family, on those you care about who  you are leaving behind. How would that story impact their life stories? Ask yourself, Am I okay dying a senseless death?  Your immediate reaction is almost certainly, “No!, of course not!

Unhealthy storytelling is characterized by a diet of faulty thinking and, ultimately,  long – term negative consequences. This undetectable, yet inexorable progression is not unlike what happens to coronary arteries from a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet. In the body, the consequence of such a diet is hardening of the arteries. In the mind, the consequence of bad storytelling is hardening of the categories, narrowing of the possibilities, calcification of perception. Both roads lead to tragedy, often quietly.

The cumulative effect of our damaging stories will have tragic consequences on our health, engagement, performance and happiness. Because we can’t confirm the damage our defective storytelling is wreaking, we disregard it, or veto our gut reactions to make a change. Then one day we awaken to the reality that we have become cynical, negative, angry. That is now who we are. Though we never quite saw it coming, that is now our true story.

We enjoy the privilege of being the hero, the final author of the story we write with our life, yet we possess a marvelous capacity to give ourselves only a supporting role in the ‘storytelling’ process, while ascribing the premier, dominant role to the markets, our family, our kids, fate, chance, genetics.  Getting our stories straight in life does not happen without our understanding that the most precious resource that we human beings possess is our energy.  

It is our storytelling that drives the way we gather and spend our energy. Stories determine our personal and professional destinies. And the most important story you will ever tell about yourself is the story you tell to yourself. 

So, you would better examine your story, especially this one that is supposedly the most familiar of all. Participate in your story rather than observing it from afar, make sure it is a story that compels you. Tell yourself the right story – the rightness of which only you can really determine, only you can really feel – and the dynamics of your energy change. If you are finally living the story you want, then it need not – it should not and won’t – be an ordinary one. It can and will be extraordinary. After all you are not just the author of your story but also its main character the hero. Heroes are never ordinary.

In the end your story is not a tragedy. Nor is it a comedy or a romance or a thriller or a drama. It is something else. What label would you give the story of your life, the most important story you will ever tell. To me that sounds like a hero’s journey.

End of story.

The Hero’s Journey in Rome – The Power of your Story

In this journey in Rome you will examine with Peter de Kuster, founder of The Hero’s Journey the way we tell stories about ourselves to ourselves — and, most important, the way we can change those stories to transform our business and personal lives.

“Your story is your life,” says Peter. As human beings, we continually tell ourselves stories — of success or failure; of power or victimhood; stories that endure for an hour, or a day, or an entire lifetime. We have stories about ourselves, our creative business, our customers ; about what we want and what we’re capable of achieving. Yet, while our stories profoundly affect how others see us and we see ourselves, too few of us even recognize that we’re telling stories, or what they are, or that we can change them — and, in turn, transform our very destinies.

Telling ourselves stories provides structure and direction as we navigate life’s challenges and opportunities, and helps us interpret our goals and skills. Stories make sense of chaos; they organize our many divergent experiences into a coherent thread; they shape our entire reality. And far too many of our stories, says Peter, are dysfunctional, in need of serious editing. First, he asks you to answer the question, “In which areas of my life is it clear that I cannot achieve my goals with the story I’ve got?” He then shows you how to create new, reality-based stories that inspire you to action, and take you where you want to go both in your work and personal life.

Our capacity to tell stories is one of our profoundest gifts. Peter’s approach to creating deeply engaging stories will give you the tools to wield the power of storytelling and forever change your business and personal life.

Join us for a truly transformational vacation for the mind.

Read on for a detailed breakdown of The Hero’s Journey itinerary.

What Can I Expect?

Here’s an outline of the The Hero’s Journey.

Journey Outline




  • Turning your story into action
  • Story Ritualizing
  • The Storyteller and the art of story
  • The Power of Your Story
  • Storyboarding your creative process
  • They Created and Lived Happily Ever After

About Peter de Kuster

Peter de Kuster is the founder of The Heroine’s Journey & Hero’s Journey project,  a storytelling firm which helps creative professionals to create careers and lives based on whatever story is most integral to their lives and careers (values, traits, skills and experiences). Peter’s approach combines in-depth storytelling and marketing expertise, and for over 20 years clients have found it effective with a wide range of creative business issues.


Peter is writer of the series The Heroine’s Journey and Hero’s Journey books, he has an MBA in Marketing,  MBA in Financial Economics and graduated at university in Sociology and Communication Sciences.

By the time Federico Fellini, known around the city as “FeFe”, died in October of 1993, he had reached the pinnacle of international success: five Oscars, a lifetime achievement award at the Cannes Film Festival, and timeless movies like La Strada, Le notti di Cabiria, 8 ½, Amarcord, La Dolce Vita, and many more, which shaped the future of cinema. La Dolce Vita, for example, greatly influenced film aesthetic: Fellini’s approach was eventually dubbed “Fellinian,” synonymous with extravagant and fanciful images in cinema.

Fellini's Rome

Fellini spent the greater part of his life living in Rome, and he shot almost all of his films in the studios of Cinecittà. Cinecittà has a long and distinguished history that includes more than 3,000 productions and counting. Cinecittà has also opened its doors to the public, which means all film lovers in Rome are free to take a guided tour of its sets and museum. While you are there visiting sets of Fellini’s films and other directors such as Martin Scorsese, keep in mind that Fellini spent much of his career inside these walls, and recall that this place was like a second home to many actors such as Sofia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, and Claudia Cardinale. You can reach the studios with the Metro A (stop Cinecittà). For details on their tours, head to

Fellini's Rome

Fellini chose the abstract setting of the EUR district for his films Le Tentazioni del dottor Antonio and La Dolce Vita. This beautiful Futuristic neighborhood with its large cubes of marble conjure up an image of a metaphysical town. The area fascinated Fellini because of its scenic charm and his reasons are sure to impress you as well, so why not stop by? Start your walk on Viale dell’Arte, turn on Viale della Letteratura and arrive at Palazzo dei Congressi.  In La Dolce VitaEUR is the neighborhood in which Marcello (Marcello Mastroianni) and his girlfriend Emma (Yvonne Furneaux) live. When Emma attempts suicide, Marcello takes her to a hospital with Futuristic architecture, which is none other than Palazzo dei Congressi. Designed by architect Adalberto Libera, it is noble and elegant in appearance, with modern lines that are embedded in a classic style, and is considered an outstanding example of rationalist architecture. The building is now home to many conference rooms and exhibitions. From there make your way to the elegant Café Palombini on Piazzale Konrad Adenauer for a coffee and something sweet. Afterwards, proceed along Viale della Civiltà Lavoro to see Palazzo della Civiltà known as the square Colosseum. This building is the most widely known representation of Fascist architecture, with a neo-classical style.

Fellini's Rome

Fregene, a sunswept town on the Tyrrhenian coast, home to the pine forest of the Sceicco Bianco where the final of La Dolce Vita unfolds and the setting for both Juliet of the Spirits, and City of Women, was one of Fellini’s favorite places outside of Rome. A 50-minute drive, it can be reached by car or public transport. Here Fellini had his vacation home, on Via Volosca, 13He spent all his summers in Fregene along with friends and family: his wife, actress Giulietta Masina; novelists Pier Paolo Pasolini and Alberto Moravia; and Marcello Mastroianni, thus transforming Fregene into an oasis for Italian intellectuals and Rome’s fashionable crowd. Even though the house is no longer there and decades have passed, this is where Fellini wrote and conceived many of his projects walking in between the ancient pines, and it’s a must for fans of his films. While Fregene is certainly more popular in the warmer months thanks to its beach, this little town is still worth visiting. Rent a bike from Motociclo Batella (Via Nettuno, 169) and take a pleasant ride all along the shoreline. For lunch consider Ristorante Mastino (Via Silvi Marina, 19) where both Mastroianni and Fellini used to dine (the owners claim that bruschetta with clams was invented by them). It should be noted that every year Federico Fellini is remembered in Fregene with an annual film festival.

Via Margutta

In Rome Fellini lived in an apartment on Via Margutta (number 110) a pretty street near Piazza del Popolo.  Artists, antique dealers, and restaurants can still be found all along the street today. Go for a passeggiata and peek into galleries from time to time for some inspiration and beautiful art browsing; then make your way to Piazza Popolo and enjoy a coffee at Canova, Fellini’s go-to bar. There is a small museum of sorts inside Canova dedicated to Fellini, which displays his sketches and drawings. Afterwards, finish your walk by visiting the Baroque churches of Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto. While you’re appreciating their magnificent paintings, remember that Fellini unlike many directors drew his inspiration from paintings and not literature. This was and still is Fellini’s Rome. Relish the experience.