average guy falls in love with a beautiful woman who is entirely out of his league. she never notices him, until one day when something terrible happens. average guy lies to beautiful woman to mask his averageness and tries to play the hero. just before the big conflict, beautiful woman finds out average guy isn’t what he seems to be. all seems lost when average guy does something selfless and ends up saving the day. beautiful woman sees ‘average guy’ is actually ‘really good guy’, just trying too hard to be someone he’s not. average guy gets the girl, and they live happily ever after.

if it sounds familiar, it’s because it is. in some form, this plot device is manifested in popular stories and films such as old school, a knight’s tale, van wilder, varsity blues, summer catch, wedding crashers, etc..

so many stories use this trope because it works, or so it seems. it sells. it makes money. it sometimes wins awards. in much the same way, we build our organizations around others we think are successful. we mirror their tactics, their structures, and their policies. instead of forging our own path, we move closer to the center. we choose mass appeal, often at the expense of those things which make us truly special and keep us from becoming “just another one of those stories”.

better to write your own story. but if you do copy, make sure you copy a story that’s worth mimicking.