Finding your way on the hero’s journey

Originally posted on Medium · 5 min read
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I think anyone who reads my content with any regularity probably has a sense that I am one who reads a great many leadership books and soaks in more than my share of non-fiction. Long time readers are likely to know that I have an affinity for the fantastical as well. The reality is that whether it is books, podcasts, YouTube videos (or any type of consumption) my tastes are not only eclectic, but they are randomly indulged.

At any given moment in time, you might find a fantasy novel on my bookshelf next to a Seth Godin book. If you observed my YouTube feed you might see music videos interspersed with layman’s level theoretical physics explanations, and my podcast and Spotify playlists look like someone spun a wheel and randomly picked podcasts from every genre.

Today, I want to give you some food for thought that plays off the world of epic storytelling. As we embark on any new season of life, organizational change, paradigm or mission we have each been sent on a hero’s journey. If you are familiar with this archetypal “monomyth” it flows through various stages and it starts in the so-called “ordinary world” where we are content in rather limited awareness of the problem or change we are about to encounter. Think of Luke Skywalker buying droids with his Uncle on Tatooine or Harry Potter waking up in his cupboard under the stairs. From there we get a call to adventure spurred on by the increased awareness of the need for change. We don’t need to refer to fantastical heroes to help us imagine this, do we? We are all keenly aware that the world is no longer what it once was and none of us have faced the kinds of challenges we encounter today.

If you are starting on a journey or entering a season of major change as I am, the next few parts are probably where many of us find ourselves right now. They are earmarked by:

the fear and resistance to change that we feel on the inside


a refusal of the call to action on the outside.

Now, I would guess that there are very few of us who are overtly refusing to step forward gallantly into the next part of the journey, I know my readers better than that. There are probably not many among us who see ourselves as Frodo rejecting his larger call to go on past Rivendell and take the ring on its far-flung, treacherous journey, but there might be the kind of hesitation and confusion of Samwise who wants to go back to being a gardener?

In the swirl of change we easily lose our way. In the Matrix, Neo allows himself to be captured rather than believe Trinity is telling him the truth about the change from his ordinary world to the supernatural world he would grow to ultimately master. Likewise, Sarah Conner bites the hand and runs away from Kyle who is trying to save her from the unrelenting robot that is bound to extinguish any hopeful future she or we might otherwise have.

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The stress and strain of this stage are what typically call each hero to overcome their confusion and fear and look for a mentor to guide them into the next stage of the journey. Here is where I want to encourage you.

Moving from the “ordinary” (or old) world to a new world is scary. It is an adventure that none of us have been on yet and so there may seem no likely guide. There may seem to be no Haymitch to school Katniss in the ways of the Hunger Games in our midst. There may appear to be no Obi-Wan who is our only hope, but we do have one thing, we have each other.

While some of us may have been given some clues to what our quest looks like, just like all these heroes, it is likely we have not been given the full story laid out in stark detail for us to follow. Instead, we are left with hurdles to climb, obstacles to overcome, and new pathways to forge. While we may be looking for supernatural aid and one clear mentor to emerge, we may have to find several mentors. In this age of flattening, they may not be the obvious person with the formal title of Jedi Master or Headmaster or Victor. We may have to seek out another archetype, the ally or the companion. This resource for the journey we have in great and talented quantities: our family, our friends, our community, our teammates, each other.

As we commit to change and cross the threshold we will need to experiment with new conditions, try things on, suffer through tests and trials. The story will not be spelled out for us, it will unfold, chapter by chapter, sentence by sentence, word by word. The ordeals, the road back, the rebirth, the redemption, the return, and mastery all lie before us.

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read the story here. listen here.

First, our task is to answer the call, put the ring around our neck, volunteer as tribute, and take off on a journey where all we know has been radically changed and all we are sure of is that our help is desperately needed in the new world we’ve been thrust into. The someone or someone’s in our case are those people we fight for and alongside every day and the team that we are a part of that strives to be better than yesterday in this new stage or age.

The someone is each of us, the someone that strives to be all we have the potential to become…

… if only someone…

… a hero…

…like you…

…will answer the call

Be well my friends, I want to see you soar.

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