Running Life Like a Business – The Hero’s Journey
It is safe to say that with everyone being the hero of their own story, people want to succeed in life. This goes for the multimillionaire CEO of an international corporation to the small business owners, like most of you reading this, to the person who doesn’t know which way is up at the moment. We all want at our core to have the best life possible. A Wicked Good Life.
Our views on what success is will be shaped by where we have come from as much as where we want to go. I’ve been successful just as often as I have failed. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in the house let alone in my mouth. I’ve worked hard to succeed and I’ve also sabotaged myself resulting in failure a few times.
For a period of time success scared the crap out of me. There was the desire to advance which lead to more money, but that leads to more responsibility and more people depending on me. I had a hard enough time keeping my own life in order let alone having hundreds or people looking to me to captain our ship. It was scary and there were times that I took the easy out. I’m not proud of that statement, but I try to be an honest person and if I’m secure enough now to be honest with myself, why not be honest with total strangers.
I’m not trying to pull the wool over your eyes or anyone at this point in my life, I never should have been, neither should you.
As an author of fiction, an outline of the Hero’s Journey has a place on the wall of my story studio. Living the Wicked Good Life is a process as well as a journey to a destination. I’ll be talking a lot about the Hero’s Journey on the site so for those of you who are not familiar with the concept here it is in Star Wars terms. There are several versions of the Heo’s Journey, I’m sticking close to the Vogler version although Campbell’s version is the one on my wall.
1. An Ordinary Life
We see the very non-hero in their natural environment. Typically they have little. Luke farmed water on a desert planet.
2. Call to Adventure
There is a seismic shift in their situation that creates a desire for the non-hero to leave the safety of An Ordinary Life. Luke gets a message from a princess (his someday sister) asking for a Wizards help.
3. Refusal of the Call
Personal doubts about leaving on the quest away from An Ordinary Life which could be either fear or complacency with the life they live cause them to stay put. Luke has dreamed of leaving the desert, but he has a sense of obligation to his aunt and uncle due to the constant guilt they heap on his plate.
4. Meeting the Mentor
This is when a Mentor pops up to provide guidance when the non-hero needs it most. Ben, the wizard, gives Luke the kick in the butt he needed to go after the journey with a freaking sword made of light.
5. Crossing the Threshold
Our soon to be hero is ready to get going. Their adventure could be a spiritual one, or emotional, or a physical one. With the death of the only things holding him back, his aunt and uncle, Luke has run out of reasons to say no which enables him to reluctantly accept his fate and leave An Ordinary Life.
6. Tests, Enemies, and Allies
The soon to be hero is now dealing with some issues. Their comfort zone is a distant memory and they are seeing first hand that life is hard. Often very hard. There are obstacles, there are people who don’t like you for no reason at all, and there are usually a few new companions that join your journey. Luke and the Wizard pay a team of smugglers to get them and their robots out of dodge before the army with really bad aim soldiers find them. (Side note: Han shot first).
7. Approach to the Inmost Cave
The kind of sort of hero arrives at a dangerous place. They may have faced a few trials along the way, but this is where things get real. Luke finks that is someday Dad has committed genocide of roughly two billion people on a whim, so they storm the castle and attempt to rescue the princess.
8. The Ordeal
The becoming hero faces an existential crisis or a seemingly impossible test they need to survive. Often, usually, to get past this stage, somebody has to die. Luke watches his someday Dad kill his wizard mentor. Luke is now a rudderless ship adrift in space who will need to accept the situation and keep pushing forward.
This is the stage where the sort of a hero becomes a true hero. They concur a personal challenge and in the process transform themselves into a better, stronger person, with more confidence in themselves. Luke gains the confidence to do what he has always dreamed of, to follow in the footsteps of his friends and join the Rebellion against the Empire.
10. The Road Home
The new hero reaches the completion of what they originally set out to do. They can finally go home to their Ordinary life. That usually doesn’t happen as they typically face a choice between what they personally want and a higher cause. Han has his reward (money) and he is leaving the Rebellion behind as he has chosen the road home. While Luke could have chosen to tag along with him, he turns away from that opportunity to avoid possible death and instead fights with the Rebellion in hopes of preventing further destruction of planets by the Empire.
The final battle. This is where all the chips are tossed on the table and everyone goes all in. This is the final battle against the big bad with stakes so high that the hero’s failure could mean the end of life in the universe. In most stories, the hero succeeds, but it is never a given. Luke, a few friends destroy the enemies ultimate weapon.
12. Return with the Elixir
The non-hero is no longer what they once were, they are a changed person. The journey has taken them to where they are now, a new person with a new outlook on a much larger world. They have faced trials and tribulations. They have fought battles with others and often with themselves. They have both allowed change to happen and forced changes. In the end, there is a literal or metaphorical reward for their actions. Luke gets a medal in the end, but his reward is more than the medal. His reward is a new power within, the courage to stand up for what comes next.
The End of the Journey
The end is a new beginning for the Hero. Their journey is complete and the journey home typically carries them to a place they no longer belong. They have changed, their world has changed. What kept them content before no longer holds the same importance or value that it once did. Lots of stories and movies follow this pattern and it is easy to start seeing once you know about it.
What does this have to do with living the Wicked Good Life?
Simply put, a lot. We’re going to cover a lot of topics over the course of this series, but it is important to know that even when you are running your life like a business, with a plan and a purpose, life is a journey. It’s your journey and as the hero of your journey, you need to remember to balance each success and failure. More of both are coming.
I’m also an author so some of my posts will be about the writing process and tips for other creatives who wordsling both fiction and non-fiction. As indie authors, their life is a business as much as the person working a minimum wage job or a doctor.
There are a lot of ups and a lot of downs with life. A lot of trials and a lot of tribulations. There are a lot of times when we feel like we have everything all figured out only to have something we couldn’t have seen coming to knock us completely off course. This is okay.
Plan with flexibility
Life, like a business, has lots of setbacks, even the most successful businesses don’t have things always go right. They plan for the best and for the worst. Rowena and I don’t know everything and there are people who will give you advice that may be more specific to your unique situation. We know first hand that as creatives life can seem against you from the start. People often do not see the value in what you give of yourself to the world. As photographers people encourage you to work for exposure. As authors, they tend to tell you everything that you did wrong instead of what they enjoyed about what you spent your time creating. As artists, they scoff at the price of a piece or tell you your talent is less than another’s.
Creatives spend enough time wallowing in self-doubt and self-criticism. Just remember we are all on our own Hero’s Journey and whatever stage you are at with your photography skills, or your wordslining skills, or your artistic skills or whatever your creative skills are, there will be a next stage and a next piece. Keep creating and have a Wicked Good Life doing it.