In 1949, Joseph Campbell published “The Hero With A Thousand Faces”, a book of comparative mythology. It’s still relevant today; George Lucas has said it influenced his Star Wars series. And those are just oldies; many writers and directors still use it today to create their stories.
Over the last couple of years Joseph Campbell has been my mentor through his books. I consider it mandatory for all entrepreneurs to read his work. He was a pioneer, a leader and most importantly made you think!
Campbell examined the mythology of every culture in the world and their iconic heroes. He found the same mono-myth structure in every one and broke it down into what is now commonly known as the hero’s journey. Campbell’s writes, “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.”
As an entrepreneur, you are faced with obstacles on a day-to-day basis. It’s tough and can get a little crazy! Whether it feels like it or not, each day is not that unlike the hero’s journey outlined by Campbell.
However, understanding yourself and understanding the hero’s journey will give you the tools, skills and perspectives you need to accomplish everything and anything in life! Knowing the stages of the hero’s journey will help you identify where you are on the entrepreneur’s path, and help you reach your intended goal. Remember: it’s not just the destination, it’s the journey.
Step One: Call To Action.
Entrepreneurship requires you to leave your home or zone of comfort. In the comfort, comes the security of “normal” life. Sometimes, your departure from the standard path is solely your own choice to chase a vision or dream you just have to follow. Other times, your journey might be prompted by an external force, such as health issues, lack of money or other unexpected changes in your life.
Whatever the reason for your call to action, it will feel scary, dark, and at moments you will be alone with no one to help you. This feeling of “loneliness” will be your first step in the hero’s journey.
Step Two: Facing Your Dragons.
Campbell calls it initiation, but you can think of it more like the dangers and the challenges of life. Once you’ve committed to a dream or vision you will be tested. Everything about you will be pushed to its limits. Your health, mindset, and wealth will face the greatest stresses possible. Just like the hero in every story or myth you’ve ever been told, you have to earn your success through trials and challenges of growth, discovery and humbling failure.
As an entrepreneur this is what dreams are made of. From the ashes rises the phoenix. Embrace the pain. Embrace the struggles. These trails that you must go through will mould you and transform you!
Step Three: Rebirth.
The hero (that is you), will face some defining moment in your life: you will have been pushed so hard, that you can't take it anymore. You will be at a crossroads.
You will have two choice here. Choice A, get swallowed by the darkness and give up on all you’ve worked for… or Choice B, rebirth. Defeat your demons and be reborn a new you. A stronger you. A smarter you. A wiser you. As an entrepreneur you will come to this crossroad, not just once, but multiple time in your entrepreneurial journey. But always remember, the choice is yours. It's not complicated to embrace life. You just have to make the choice. You will repeat the hero’s journey with each pursuit you have in life but only ever once as a novice. You can never return home from any journey the same person. That’s what ultimately makes the entrepreneurial journey worth it. The hero’s journey of our myths and stories is drawn from the story of life itself. Every aspect of who you and what you are chasing can be mapped on the hero’s journey.
Life is short. And you only have so much time on this planet. Make it count. There lies a hero in you; find your story, embrace it and go on the journey - discover your powers, defeat your dragons and return a better you!