3 min read

Where are You in Your Hero's Journey?

An orphan lives a relatively boring life with his uncle and aunt.  He dreams of leaving but won’t, for various reasons.

He finally leaves his boring life accompanied by someone from another world.

He finds out his father had special powers, and he has that ability also.

The orphan has many adventures, making friends and foes alike.

He discovers the power within himself and secures an ultimate triumph.

What story am I describing?  Star Wars?  Harry Potter?  These elements are used in countless stories because they resonate with us.  The framework is called “The Hero’s Journey,” famously explained in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Source: https://kanbanize.com/blog/heros-journey-evolutionary-change-management/
Source: https://kanbanize.com/blog/heros-journey-evolutionary-change-management/

I had two insights:
1) The Hero’s Journey can be applied retrospectively to any story of transformation and
2) Framing a story in The Hero’s Journey unlocks the meaning of the transformation.

Let’s compare the quick version of my own story and then reframe it through The Hero’s Journey.

The Quick Version: Three years ago, I quit my job and since then I’ve taken online courses, written, and created my own content.

Now, let’s tell that story using the Hero’s Journey.

First Act:
1. I had a finance career coveted by many
2. I felt bored most times and wanted to do something meaningful
3. I feared the uncertainty of change and settled for a comfortable life
4. I started following online creators like Khe Hy, Andrew Taggert, and Paul Millard
5. I quit my job

Second Act:
6. I took online courses including Write of Passage and Small Bets.  I learned many lessons and worked with many people.
7. I created courses, often with partners.
8. I was drawn to the creator economy but had trepidation about the hustling aspects.
9. I realized the need for creativity and exploration.

Third Act:
10. I refocused my newsletter around defining creativity and exploring its implications.

Which version is more meaningful?

The Hero’s Journey creates a powerful narrative with dramatic tension.  It presents a problem, shows the solution, and shows the effects of that solution.  All wrapped in a story of the main character overcoming challenges.  Seeing this story in this framework is motivational.

If we see our current journey as a Hero’s Journey, could we use the twelve steps as a guide for ourselves?

You’ll notice that my story only goes to the tenth step out of twelve.  I feel that I’ve broadened my understanding of the world, but the process hasn’t felt fulfilling.  I haven’t embodied or acted on my new understanding.  What’s my next step?

I need to bring my new insights about creativity and exploration to the communities that I participate in.

Yes, I still need to figure out how to do this, but seeing my transformation in the context of a Hero’s Journey showed me my next step (Step 11).  My revelation that creativity is needed for a fulfilling life is hollow until I use that understanding to help other people.  The action is the meaning.  It’s not good enough to learn new skills or discover an insight inside yourself.  You need to share that awakening with other people.

Transformation doesn’t happen without action.  

Seeing your life as a Hero’s Journey lets you know what you need to do next.  If you find yourself in a rut, where are you in your Hero’s Journey?  Have you refused a call (Step 3)?  Then look for a mentor (Step 4).  Have you gone through an ordeal (Step 8)?  Then what is the revelation you learned (Step 9)?

The added meaningfulness of the Hero’s Journey lets you craft your narrative.  You can think of your life going forward in the context of a Hero’s Journey.  Just understand where you are and fill in the next step.

By seeing yourself in a Hero’s Journey, you create a Hero’s Journey - and you become a Hero.