By Kevin Elliott
Entelechy /en-tel–uh-kee/ noun:
1. a realization or actuality as opposed to a potentiality.
2. (in vitalist philosophy) a vital agent or force directing growth and life.
3. the soul.
Acorns and Bears and People
If I plant an acorn, what will it become?
An oak tree, of course. If I plant a thousand acorns I will get a thousand oak trees. An acorn can only become an oak tree.
What will a bear cub grow to be? A big bear. It will behave like a bear and do predictably bear-y things its entire life. It can do nothing else.
If I choose a random human and ask, “What will she become?,” you could say, “An adult human.”
But if I ask, “What will she do?,” you have no idea.
As far as we know, humans are the only beings that can consciously choose to shape our future in the ways we want (actuality as opposed to a potentiality). That is Entelechy. Aristotle coined the term in his book De Anime (On the Soul), but it could not be more relevant today.
Why Entelechy Works
But why does Entelechy matter for video production? Because you have a movie playing in your head and so do I.
Have you ever been in a job that you just “knew” was wrong for you? A relationship that didn’t “feel” right? Had a “gut feeling” of a move you should make in your life?
You had those feelings because they either matched or didn’t match the script of the movie called “Your Life” that is running through your mind. You had those feelings because you wrote the script.
We all want our life to go a certain way and have certain experiences. It’s the entire basis for social media. Modern versions of Entelechy include “living your best life” and #lifegoals.
Bottom line, we want to reach our potential and live out the story in our mind. But here’s the really neat thing about Entelechy and what makes it powerful for video: We love watching others live out theirs.
Here is an example from my favorite ad of all time, Parisian Love by Google.
That’s how the pros do Entelechy. You were swept into the story because it identifies with an aspiration we all have – to find love. Using no spoken words, the marketing geniuses at Google used a story to make us want to get to the nearest device to search for our dreams.
Entelechy moves people and drives us to action because it speaks to our deepest desires.
Try Entelechy, You’ll Like It
As you plan your video projects, think of how you can structure them in the form of an “aspirational” story, one that shows the hero(ine) fulfilling his or her “destiny” (another concept related to Entelechy).
It will grab us because we want to fulfill our destiny too.
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