Previously I’ve shared Part 1 through 5 of a Hero’s Journey. To read Part’s 1 through 5 click here. This is Part 6 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. One of the greatest elements of the story is the ability to share something learned when overcoming a challenge.
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 sixth step of the Hero’s Journey: Self-Discovery
In our personal lives, and the life of any hero, embarking on the journey of self-discover builds wisdom and understanding. Consider a novel or movie, where nothing is learned by the main character. It may be fun and entertaining, but afterward you feel a little empty don’t you? What about your own life? If you never learned anything or made self-discoveries, could you ever grow and advance through life?
On the subject of characters in the movies, I’ve been focusing my Hero’s Journey series on the primary hero of Star Wars, Luke Skywalker. The entire movie outlines Luke’s growth from boy to adult. He learns self-discovery by overcoming a variety of challenges (Step 5!). At the end of the movie, during the crucial assault on the Death Star, he has grown into a leader, commanding other more experienced fighter pilots. In the famous trench scene, Luke pilots his X-Wing fighter towards the lone weakness of the massive battle station. Throughout the movie, Luke second guesses most everything and trusts technology to get him out of a jam, yet, he hears a voice from his mentor, Obi Wan, to “use the force.” In this moment, Luke fully discovers himself, and switching off the targeting computer, trusts his judgement, (and the mysterious force), to aim his proton torpedo’s and save the galaxy from the Empire.
I’ve also woven examples from the movie, Top Gun, throughout my Hero’s Journey series. Maverick, the protagonist in the movie Top Gun, almost walks away from his Navy career and quits his dream of being a pilot after losing his best friend. Through the help of a mentor, he realizes giving up won’t bring back his friend. He can honor his friend by learning from his mistake and “flying right.” Maverick returns to graduate Top Gun and return to the fleet.
How often have you seen this in your own life? Self-discovery is a process, often more complicated than it should be. We must overcome a challenge to understand what we are truly capable of. So many look at the success of others and think people are somehow lucky, that overnight they became a stellar success. Yet, it never happens this way. Anyone who has any kind of true success will tell you it was years of work and effort.
Business is the same way isn’t it? Success takes time. Self-discovery for a business is always a magical time. It is magical because so many team members and employees share in the collective excellence and understanding of business self-discovery. It is truly empowering to take your company to the next level.
Steve Job’s greatest challenge at Apple wasn’t starting the company, it was being let go from the company he built and created. He spent a number of years on the outside looking in, learning about himself and taking the journey of self-discovery. After Apple began to fail, the board of directors turned back to Jobs and the rest as we say is history. I don’t write this to say Jobs was a perfect CEO. He had his issues, (as we all do), however, it was his journey of self-discovery that allowed him to return to Apple and turn it into the market leader it is today.
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? Don’t be afraid of self-discovery. No matter how “successful” we are, life is a journey of self-discovery.
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 have you learned from your past challenges. What does your journey of self-discovery look like?
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? Just as audiences love the story of a challenge overcome, they enjoy as much or more hearing what you learned from the process. What part of your self-discovery can they take away to improve their own life?
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!