HERO's Journey: Turn your life into an adventure

Who I am
Robert Maurer


Author and references

There is a hero who is hidden in each of us, to reveal it we must embark on a journey: the hero's journey. Follow me…

"We must be willing to get rid of the life we ​​have planned, to have the life we ​​have always dreamed of."

Joseph Campbell.

Let me tell you a story ...

The monastery of an ancient Thai village housed a magnificent one solid gold statue of Buddha.

One day, news reached the villagers that an invading army was arriving in their region. Frightened, the villagers and the monks decided to cover the golden Buddha statue with mud and clay, so that it looks like one of many.

When the invading army arrived, they pillaged the village but ignored the Buddha's "mud" statue.

Decades passed and by the time the invading army finally left the region, the villagers had forgotten the treasure which was hidden under the old statue of "mud".

One day, a young monk, meditating in front of the Buddha, noticed that one of the statue's hands had a crack and under that crack there was something gleaming.

Thus it was that monks and villagers, with enormous surprise, rediscovered the precious golden Buddha. Moral of the story… ?!

There is a hero hiding in each of us ...

We are born with a huge potential and like the golden Buddha we shine when we come to life.

Growing up, to defend ourselves from external attacks, we cover ourselves with "mud" (fears, insecurities and doubts). This mud becomes almost a second skin for us and we forget what we are really made of.

At a certain point, however, something happens in our life and a "crack" creeps into that armor of mud that we have built on ourselves. It is in that moment that we have the opportunity to bring out what shines in us, but to finally get rid of the layer of fears, insecurities and doubts, we must embark on a journey: the hero's journey.

For thousands of years, this same journey has been undertaken by men and women who have refused to surrender to the comforting convenience of mediocrity.

This trip involves 12 stages very specific. Understanding which stage you have reached at this moment in your life will help you face it in the best way and find the way to reach the next stage.

Would you like to start this journey together to discover ours inner hero? ;-)

The Journey of the Hero by Joseph Campbell

Prof. Joseph Campbell, author of the book "The hero with a thousand faces”, He has long been considered one of the world's leading experts mythology.

Campbell in fact dedicated his entire life to the study of the myths of various human civilizations: from Native Americans, to the ancient Greeks, passing through the Aztecs.

... and what he discovered was that in all the myths of heroes, handed down for millennia by human beings, there was actually a 'single story, a story that unfolded in 12 stages.

This archetypal story is so powerful that every time it has been taken up in literature or film, it has led the authors to enormous success.

Star Wars, The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter: each of these sagas takes up the journey of the hero discovered by Campbell.

But the hero's journey is not just a narrative formula that guarantees box office success, it is part of the DNA of mankind, and represents the path taken by thousands of heroes and heroines of our history.

… And it could be a tool to give meaning (and direction) to what you are facing at this moment in your life.

“Life has no intrinsic meaning. It is up to us to give it meaning. "

Joseph Campbell.

Well, I would say that the preambles are enough: time to embark on our journey.

The 12 stages of the hero's journey

Below you will find the diagram of the hero's journey devised by Christopher Vogler, based on Campbell's studies (the diagram should be read counter-clockwise):

In short words…

The hero, who lives in his (1) ordinary world, receives a (2) call. Initially does not accept the call and (3) refuses, but instructed by a (4) mentor, overcomes his fear and (5) cross the first threshold, which allows him to enter the extraordinary world. From here will begin a series of (6) evidence, which slowly (7) will approach at (8) central evidence. After passing this test, the hero gets the (9) prize and undertakes the (10) way back. Before he can go home, however, he must also face a (11) resurrection. Only then can he end the journey with a (12) new elixir.

But let's see these in detail 12 phases, above all we try to understand how this path can be translated into our life and how it can help us to face our daily challenges, to bring out our inner hero.

1) the ordinary world

Every great story begins with the hero represented as a nobody in his ordinary world. Think for example of Neo (Keanu Reeves) in The Matrix when at the beginning of the film he is a simple employee of a multinational company.

Who knows, maybe you are exactly in this first phase of the journey: maybe because you are young and you have not yet had time to prove your worth, or maybe you are no longer so young, but inside you feel that the life you are living it doesn't belong to you and you know there must be more out there ...

2) The Call

At a certain point an unexpected event happens in the life of the hero: a serious problem, a wrong to be repaired, an unexpected challenge, an encounter with a special person, an adventure to be undertaken. This event will force the hero to come out of his shell and leave his ordinary world.

Even in our life, we are often called to face unexpected difficulties.

When this happens we have two possibilities:

  • Cry on ourselves and curse the universe, or ...
  • Remind us the story of the butterfly.

3) Refusal

The hero does not always accept the call with enthusiasm. On the contrary. As tight as it may be, leaving the ordinary world is not an easy choice. The hero hesitates and expresses reluctance. In other words: feel fear.

This is perhaps the phase that most unites us to the heroes of history.

Faced with a difficulty that upsets our daily life, our first reaction is precisely the I decline. We just want things to go back to the way they used to be. We are afraid of what lies ahead. We don't feel like getting out of ours comfort zone.

If you are going through this phase, know that what you are feeling is completely natural. But there is a way out ...

4) The meeting with the Mentor

“No man is an island, complete in himself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the whole. "

John Donne.

To succeed in his feat, the hero needs help. To be precise, it needs a Mentor to guide him (the famous archetype of the Magician). The relationship between the hero and his mentor is one of the most common themes of mythology and is rich in symbolic meanings; in fact it represents the relationship between parent and child, between god and man.

Throughout history the mentor has had multiple representations: the wise old wizard (Merlin), the severe sports coach, and so on.

The mentor's job is to prepare the hero to face the challenges that await him, give him tips and tools with magical power. However, the mentor cannot face the hero's challenges in his place.

As far as we are concerned, it is essential that each of us find our own mentors.

If you are facing a difficult time right now, look for someone you can trust who can guide you off the ford. If you don't succeed, you can always do like me: my mentors have been these books :)

But remember: the mentor can show you the way, then it's up to you to walk it.

5) The passage of the First Threshold

Put aside the initial reluctance and instructed by his mentor, the hero is ready to embark on his adventure and cross the first threshold which leads him to enter the extraordinary world.

Taking the Matrix example, this is the moment when Neo decides to swallow the red pill and finally discover the truth.

Who knows, maybe you are in this fifth phase.

Think about that for example decision that has haunted you for weeks, to that choice you are afraid to make: on the one hand you can continue to live in the reassuring mediocrity of a life you know all too well, on the other you can decide whether to embark on your own adventure. The challenges that await you on the other side are unknown, but the rewards can be invaluable. What you choose?

Don't you feel like throwing yourself blind? Then use the compass technique to make this important decision, but move your c * lo!

6) The Trials, Allies and Enemies

Crossing the first threshold, our hero will face new ones challenges and by facing them new ones will be created allies and new enemies.

This also happens in our daily life. The moment we decide to come out of our shell, we will find ourselves tossed around in new experiences and we will have the opportunity to form new friendships that will prove extremely valuable (remember? "No man is an island", if you want to achieve ambitious goals, you have need allies).

During our adventure, however, we will also meet people who are ready to hinder us. Don't get discouraged, it's part of the game: every protagonist must have a worthy antagonist.

7) Approaching the deepest cave

At this point in the story, the hero arrives at the edge of a dangerous and threatening place, where the object of his research is hidden. When the hero enters this scary place, he will cross the second great threshold. Before entering, however, there will be a phase of "approach", during which the hero will have to prepare and will have to study the best strategies to evade the threats that will hinder his entry.

Think for example of the saga of Lord of the Rings and the approach of Frodo and Sam to the lands dominated by the influence of Sauron.

But also think about your own life.

Maybe you are experiencing this phase of approaching a great test, right in this period. How are you preparing yourself? Have you already thought about how to avoid the pitfalls that you will inevitably find along the way? You are defending your thoughts from 3 mental energy vampires?

8) The Central Proof

The hero is now facing the most important test of his life. The stakes are huge and the hero will have to face death and overcome his deepest fears.

The central test is a "dark" moment in history and often the hero seriously risks dying, or even dying, only to be reborn.

When we watch a movie or read a book, we have that reassuring feeling that whatever happens, everything will be for the best (unless the story was written by George RR Martin).

In our life, however, we tend to get discouraged much more easily. Making a parallel with the 5 stages of every change, the central proof corresponds to the "Valley of despair". It is how we react in this phase that makes us heroes or quaquaraquàs.

9) The prize

Once the central test has been passed, the hero is finally worthy of this title and can appropriate his just reward (a treasure, a sword, an ancient priceless heirloom, the beloved or the beloved, etc.). Sometimes the reward is not an object or a person, but greater self-knowledge and self-awareness. The prize is therefore also proof of the hero's maturity.

How to bring this phase of the hero's journey in our daily life?

Here the invitation I am giving you is to be clear, from the beginning, what is the prize you aspire to.

Often in life we ​​are faced with really difficult moments, but if these moments have a purpose, that is, if we can put them in perspective and see these difficulties as part of a bigger plan, going through them will be easier.

So I repeat: do you have a clear idea of ​​what your goal is?

10) The way back

Passing the central test is not enough. Now the hero must face the consequences of having challenged the dark forces in the cave of the extraordinary world. The way back is full of dangers, temptations and new challenges.

A classic example of a way back scene is Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia's escape from the Death Star, with plans to defeat Darth Vader.

How to interpret this phase in our daily life? Think of all those moments when maybe you have reached a first milestone and then you let your guard down: it didn't go very well, did it?

11) The Resurrection

In this eleventh stage, the dark forces launch their last and desperate attack. The hero, in order to return to the ordinary world, must face this last exam. Having overcome this umpteenth crisis, the hero, reborn, can finally return to his ordinary life, but nothing will ever be the same again.

In our life, every time we find ourselves facing difficult periods, even after having overcome them, we feel the after-effects. To rise again means accept that part of us died during that difficult trial and become aware that another part, stronger and more prepared, was born from the ashes.

12) The Return with the Elixir

In the twelfth and last phase the hero returns to the ordinary world, but he doesn't do it empty-handed, he brings with him a "elixir“, That is a treasure, an amulet or a technology capable of benefiting the entire community.

In order for our journey to be complete and have a meaning, we must learn to share what we have learned along the way with others, become their mentors if necessary. If you find yourself in this stage of life and have already gotten your dose of satisfaction and success, now is the time to give something back. The Internet today allows you to do it at extremely low cost and with an audience that can embrace the entire world population.

Well, ours ends here hero's journey.

I've also put you a summary video below, prepared by the TED experts.

Before saying goodbye, however, I would like to share one last thing with you ...

The decision…

I don't know what stage of life you are facing right now, but what I do know is that every day you are called to make an important decision ...

You can decide whether to be thehero of your life or the victim.

Here, then I hope that the hero's journey will help you to give a new interpretation to what is happening to you in life; because remember ...

The only meaning of our life is what we decide to give it.

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