Previously I shared Part 1 through 4 of a Hero’s Journey. To read Part 1, 2, 3 and 4 click here. This is Part 5 of the 8 Steps of the Hero’s Journey.
No matter whether we are writing a novel or the story of our life, as a human being our lives revolve around the stories we tell and are told. No matter what is occurring in the life of our hero, or in our own life, the most compelling part of our story is overcoming great challenge. No matter our position in life, a challenge will always be there to greet us.
What can “story” teach us? Story is a very powerful vehicle. Challenges occur in every story, in every life. For millennia, storytelling was the only vehicle for passing down information from generation to generation in ancient cultures. From the days of simple pictures inscribed on cave walls all the way to today’s multimillion dollar movie blockbusters, our ancestor’s drive for telling stories has been encoded onto our DNA.
Today, we all still connect quite powerfully through stories. Our daily personal and business lives are filled with stories. The news is made of stories. Media, advertising, novels, business bestsellers, famous speeches… all stories that we’re magnetically pulled into as if by an invisible thread. A connection of personal truth deep enough, or similar enough to our own experience, we as human beings are irresistibly and instantly connected through the power of story.
In crafting a powerful story…whether for a book you’re writing, a brand you are defining, a product or service you’re selling, or a platform you’re creating as a speaker; the Hero’s Journey is the most profound outline you can use to craft a compelling story. The journey concept, better known in literary circles as Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, The Hero’s Journey, is a basic pattern that is found in many narratives from around the world and throughout recorded history.
The hero’s journey is arguably the world’s oldest story or plot archetype. It’s a narrative pattern that’s found around the globe and is the foundation of classic, as well as, modern storytelling.
The gift step of the Hero’s Journey: Overcoming Challenges
In our personal lives, and the life of any hero, overcoming challenges are what makes a story compelling. Consider a novel or movie, would you be interested in engaging your time if there were no challenges to overcome? How boring of a book would that be? What about your own life, if there were no challenges, you may feel more secure, but how boring would life become? We grow because of our challenges, just as a hero does.
Referring back to my previous post in this series, I discussed the hero in Star Wars, Luke Skywalker. In the original Star Wars movie, when escaping the Death Star, Luke had to work with Han and Leia to overcome an extreme challenge. This challenge helped him grow beyond his roots as a self-obsessed farmhand dreaming of the stars, into a hero walking amongst the stars. In the process, or through his journey, he discovers confidence, skills and abilities he never knew he possessed. I believe the classic hero’s journey, so well written and displayed, is why the original Star Wars film is perhaps the most beloved (some would argue the second Empire Strikes Back is better, but I respectfully disagree) of all six.
We all want to root for a hero. Whether it’s Frodo from Lord of the Rings, Maverick from Top Gun, Tony Stark from Iron Man or Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, a hero overcoming a great challenge gives us hope that we can overcome challenges in our own lives. We find ourselves in their frailty, we resonate with their suffering, we root for them to overcome immense obstacles and through this vehicle of story, we are empowered to triumph over the adversity that shows up along our own path.
Business is the same way isn’t it? Our most beloved companies and business leaders often have a great comeback story don’t they? Perhaps they overcome a great obstacle and in doing so changed the world around them. Look at Apple and Steve Jobs. After Jobs left Apple, the company began to flounder and fell behind in the marketplace to HP, IBM, Dell and Microsoft. Jobs was off -the-radar as an executive besides his founding of Pixar. Yet, Steve Job’s triumphant return to the company he founded but had let him go, ushered in a new era for both Jobs and Apple. Jobs resurrected Apple with new computer designs and even more important, the introduction of the iPhone.
Elon Musk has been celebrated most recently as the next Steve Jobs, the next great entrepreneur. Like any human being he has his faults and has made plenty of mistakes. Before Tesla and SpaceX literally took off, his companies had a number of failures and problems. At one point, Musk was actually borrowing money from friends to even make his house payment. Another setback would have been the end of his dreams. After multiple rocket launch failures for his firm SpaceX, he needed a successful launch. What did SpaceX do? They went out and flew a rocket into orbit without a hitch and the rest is history. How many times has this happened in history, when a person, business or team is down to its last try, and somehow, manage to pull off the big win? History loves a winner, and so do people.
Consider how you can develop a compelling story around yourself, your brand, or your book. What if the story you weave could change the definition of how your brand…your product or service is accepted in the world? Share your challenges with your customers, give them something to believe in.
In business, stories for personal branding are no different. Look at your product or service and your company in general. Where do you want to go and what would you like to achieve? What are your challenges? How are you going to meet and overcome them? Is this challenge worthwhile to share with your customers and supporters?
If you’re an aspiring speaker looking for a platform, or a novelist looking for book sales, evaluate who would be helpful to spread your message and help you complete your mission. What things are common for all of us on the Hero’s Journey? The human connection of a challenge is critical to share with your audience. Audiences love a compelling story of overcoming a challenge. Why? Because they can relate to the challenges in their own lives. If you can overcome your difficulty, you give your audience hope they can overcome theirs.
Business practices, marketing, business development and content delivery have all had gigantic evolutionary leaps as technology has changed the landscape. But even with all of our technology, hand-held devices, new media… the ancient patterns of storytelling have not changed. Businesses, entrepreneurs, speakers with a platform to build and authors with books to sell, must become skilled with utilizing and leveraging the classic archetypes. Using the steps of the Hero’s Journey is a brilliant way to structure your story in a way that connects with power to not only influence buying decisions of potential customers, but impact brand loyalty for an established customer base.
“Whoever shares the greatest stories rules the world” ~ Justine Musk
The power of story is such a sexy topic whether we are talking about using storytelling in our personal lives to identify our own journey, or talking about how we can leverage our experience into a compelling tale giving us a platform as a speaker, writer, marketer, and entrepreneur. Our story has the power to connect us, our book, our message, or our product and service to support our value proposition to prospective customers.
Stay tuned to future posts as I explore with you all eight parts of The Hero’s Journey! Here’s to you and your journey… and remember YOU are the hero of your own story!