In business and life alike, change is hard. And heroic.
Nearly every story of a Hero’s Journey involves change or transformation. In fact, it’s this very transformation that makes heroes out of ordinary people.
Joseph Campbell laid all of this out for us in his famous and highly regarded books The Hero With a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth.
Campbell studied the mythology of the known world and found a common theme among global cultures. That common theme, boiled down to its purest essence, is, “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder. Fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won. The hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
Sound familiar? Probably the most famous work inspired by Campbell is Star Wars. Did you think that Luke was the right guy for the job when he set off to rescue Princess Leia? No one did. He was a scrawny little desert rat. But look what he was able to accomplish.
Sadly, since Lucas used the formula in Star Wars, it’s become the most reproduced formula in entertainment (think every single animated movie Disney has made in the last 30 years).
The Entrepreneurial Hero
For most of us life isn’t so much about swords and Death Stars as it is accounting and dirty dishes. The reason we have fictional heroes is for them to bring lessons of transformation (boons) back to us so we can benefit from their courage – without having to go slay dragons ourselves.
That doesn’t make it any less of a hero’s journey, however. Because what sets an extraordinary person apart from an ordinary one is intention and action (even if they’re reluctant to go).
As an Entrepreneur, you’ve already expressed a willingness to journey into the unknown world. You’ve already stepped across the threshold.
It’s important, I think, to understand that the hero doesn’t identify as such. Luke Skywalker never claimed to be a hero, he was just a guy who was called to rescue a beautiful princess.
The situation for you and I, however, is a different one. Yes, you may have been called to business or leadership. But you’re in charge of the story. If you want to complete the cycle, you almost have to acknowledge that this is YOUR hero’s journey – and that YOU are the hero (reluctantly if necessary).
Like any good hero, you need a mentor. Imagine Luke without Yoda. Imagine Arthur without Merlin. Wouldn’t have happened. The story just doesn’t work that way. Both the aforementioned heroes had a mentor who saw something greater in them than they could see in themselves, and helped them to actualize it.
Can you achieve success without a mentor? Probably. Will you push yourself harder than you can stand to realize the awesome power you possess? Maybe but probably not.
In essence, this is a single lens with which to view your life. Do you have to sign on to this idea? Absolutely not. But if you’re looking for a guide to change and self-actualization, you can do pretty well with many thousands of years of collective awareness about the journey.
If you do sign on, be prepared to suffer before you can fly.
And don’t get too close to the sun.