Your life is a story…and you are the hero.
Does this statement make you uncomfortable? Perhaps you are like me and don’t necessarily like the spotlight and attention. We don’t want to be heroes because with great power comes great responsibility.
The problem is…it’s not a choice.
We have the opportunity to utilize the power of choice in many aspects of our lives. But each of us was created to write a unique story and…
Every story has a hero.
Every hero goes on a journey.
Every journey is an opportunity for the hero to make an impact on the world.
To Live is to Lead
Ultimately, the words or actions of a leader which impact us are backed up by the life they live. It’s their whole being. It doesn’t mean they won’t make mistakes. But it does mean they accept the responsibility to create a better version of themselves every day.
Being a leader is not a choice because to live is to lead. To lead ourselves, our family, our friends, and those we come in contact with every day. Even those we impact though we may not know it.
We are all looking for a story to follow because we all want help in writing our own story. There is one collective story of humanity, yet within that collective story is the story of every unique human being.
The Hero's Journey
Stories have common elements which bond them together, from ancient myths to modern novels and movies. In his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell deduced that all myths and legends from cultures throughout the world have the same elements.
The hero of the story goes on a journey which transforms them physically, mentally, spiritually, or a combination of all three.
Working from the basis of Campbell’s seminal work, Christopher Vogler authored The Writer’s Journey to help modern storytellers. Vogler condensed The Hero’s Journey into the 12 stages listed below.
The Ordinary World: This is the status quo in our lives including our environment, our daily activities and habits, and our relationships.
The Call to Adventure: Every day we have decisions to make about which path to travel. Through subtle or obvious signs we are called to go on a journey which presents both excitement and fear.
Refusal of the Call: Change is difficult. We don’t want to be foolish and throw our life and health away to follow a path which we aren’t quite sure where it leads. So we choose the comfort of the ordinary world over the mystery of the unknown.
Meeting the Mentor: We need help and guidance. No one ever really makes a journey alone. We may find a mentor in a wise old sage or in the normalcy of a friend who cares. Mentors help fan the spark inside us into a flame.
Crossing the First Threshold: Whether through an active choice or forced through circumstances, we accept the call to adventure and enter a special world. We enter the unknown to embark on our physical, mental, or spiritual adventure.
Tests, Allies, and Enemies: Once we enter the special world we will face a series of challenges. We also discover people who can help us. At the same time, we must be aware of people and forces which provide resistance and aim to stop us from going any farther.
Approach to the Inmost Cave: Our challenges continue to increase in difficulty and eventually we will face a challenge which forces us to confront some of our deepest fears.
The Ordeal: This is the supreme battle of our journey. Again, it may be physical or it may test every fiber of our spiritual being. Although the stakes are high, this is often where we feel the most alive.
Reward: Once we survive the ordeal, there is always a reward. The reward can entail anything from material possessions to knowledge and wisdom gained. This stage of our journey renews our excitement that one day things will return to normal.
The Road Back: At this point, we are headed back to familiar surroundings. Whether literally or metaphorically, we are returning home.
Resurrection: We are not out of the woods yet as we must face one more challenge to prove we have truly changed. This time we have the reward and we need to use it to triumph over the forces trying to stop us.
Return with the Elixir: We are back in our normal environment. But something has changed…and that something is us. We are a different person than when we left. There is one final thing we need to do. We must take everything we have learned and the gifts and abilities we developed on our journey and share them with others.
These Stages Are In Our Lives
Can you see how you have passed through some of these stages at different times in your life?
These stages are so ingrained in every story that you might have never heard of The Hero’s Journey before, yet you can instantly recognize them. Although they each have their own nuances, we can find these stages in every story from The Wizard of Oz to Star Wars.
So what do we do once we have an awareness of these stages of The Hero’s Journey?
As the hero of our story, we do not want to simply pass through the stages of our journey reacting to the circumstances of the world around us. We need fundamentals we can employ to help ensure we experience transformation and we use our experience to make an IMPACT on others.
Next time, we will break down the 12 Fundamentals of Impact we can use to make sure we write a story which makes a positive impact on the world.
Until then, keep getting a little better every day as you write your own story…a story in which you are the hero…