“Follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.
When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid,
and doors will open
where you didn’t know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss,
doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”
― Joseph Campbell
What is a Hero’s Journey?
It’s a monumental concept for us to get — and taking it to heart and exploring this yourself WILL absolutely change your life.
It’s actually the very definition of a life change and journey. I didn’t even hear and truly learn about the Hero’s Journey until I was 43 years young, and if you don’t know about this idea, I’m honored to bring it to you now.
The Hero’s Journey was discovered by Joseph Campbell of how all great stories throughout mythology follow a set pattern. It’s being ‘called’ to do something great, learning how to do it and getting help, facing obstacles and hardships in the way, finally overcoming them, and returning to life with the new powers and insights.
Have you heard the number one regret of the dying, according to a hospice worker from Australia that wrote about it?
The number one regret of the dying is that they didn’t “live a life true to themselves.”
Wow. That’s so profound. That’s such a big deal, something monumental for each of us to consider.
I think the life that is “true” to us is our own Hero’s Journey. It’s setting off on our own adventure to do something great, that grand challenge that is awaiting each of us to conquer, or give it our all in trying.
The Hero’s Journey is so important, one of the biggest things we can learn about and yet most all of us don’t learn it. It’s not taught in regular schools, at least up through the high school levels, and not in college unless you take some obscure philosophy or mythology classes. Yet — studying it, considering, and contemplating it can be the difference of a life un-lived or making our own personal mark on the world.
My Hero’s Journey (Maybe You Can Relate)
I was living a good life. I have a spectacular family, I had a good business that provided a good living in real estate for the past 20 years. Yet, I became down and depressed with the life I had, because I didn’t feel like I was living the life I should be. Have you ever felt that?
There was just a growing discontent, and an overwhelming feeling that I wasn’t living to my potential; or at least ATTEMPTING anything great.
Now, I don’t think it’s a sin to not achieve great things in life; however (and this may sound harsh) I do think that it’s a sin to not at least TRY to do something grand.
My personal hero’s journey started with me truly attempting to make my life better when I was down:
- I read some books, to include, “Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream,” by James Altucher and, “The Obstacle is the Way,” by Ryan Holiday.
- I started to do my Daily Practice.
- I embarked on “Miracle Mornings.”
- I started writing about my own journey and the attempt to go from ordinary to extraordinary.
- I started practicing gratitude and doing kind acts.
- I volunteered.
We did the hug station at the nursing homes, and after hearing one of my mentors, Joe Polish, talking about his experience in a nursing home and the need for, “an Uber for volunteers,” on a podcast — I knew I had to pursue it by creating JoeVolunteer.
I helped to raise money for that by speaking on a stage in front of hundreds of highly influential people. After walking off of that stage, a man that has become my friend, Giovanni Marsico, approached me to come to a conference of “Super Heroes,” a few months later in California.
The group was called Archangel, and the conference theme was, “The Hero’s Journey.”
I hadn’t even heard about the concept of The Hero’s Journey before that, even though I’d heard the quote, “Follow your bliss.”
My eyes were opened, I watched a movie all about it called, “Finding Joe,” which I’ve shared with you. I got to meet Patrick Solomon, the man that made that movie at the conference.
I also got to hear about Gio’s own Hero’s Journey at the conference, where he talked about being in the real estate business, and although being talented at it, he was extremely unhappy. He had anxiety attacks, he suffered depression, and KNEW it wasn’t for him; so he started Archangel (Big-Hearted Entrepreneurs who want to change the world), and eventually he quit his lucrative real estate practice to follow his dream.
When I was sitting in the audience listening to Gio’s story, it punched a hole right in my soul, because I felt exactly the same.
I didn’t plan on selling my business yet, but that seed of dissatisfaction was planted in my heart at that moment; and eventually led me to sell the real estate business and follow my own Hero’s Journey…and a big part of that is what you’re reading right now.
I’ve wanted to be an author since I’ve been in the third grade, and now I’ve finally, at long last, done it. I don’t know for certain if I’ll be successful in my new endeavors — but I can’t abide not TRYING.
And that’s what I want for you. To TRY:
- To attempt to do something great.
- To do something that is in your heart and soul.
- Do the thing that makes your heart beat a little faster when you think about it.
- Heed the grand lure of adventure that we try to keep covered with the trance of everyday life: Working, paying bills, trying to move up, make more money, take more vacations, and be better Daddies/Mommies/People…but oftentimes ignoring that pull that’s in us when we pause and sit quietly, alone with our thoughts.
The Stages of the Hero’s Journey
I think it’s a great idea to know more about the Hero’s Journey, to understand it, and then apply it in your lives to help on your own path.
There are a lot of stages with it, and you’ll recognize them from nearly every story and movie you’ve ever seen. The formula has been used for thousands of years, and when you know what it is; the similarity of ALL stories becomes apparent. It’s always been there, but Joseph Campbell codified and defined it for us in three parts as follows:
1. The Departure, which includes:
- The Ordinary World (which you may be in now in this stage of your journey);
- The Call to Adventure (maybe the most important part),
- Reluctance or Refusal of the Call (that inner turmoil of whether to go off on your adventure),
- Supernatural Aid or Mentor that helps you along the way,
- Crossing the Threshold (actually embarking), and
- the Belly of the Whale which is when you’ve left what you’ve known and are ready for a metamorphosis.
2. The Initiation, which has:
- The Road of Trials (or the Forest);
- The Meeting of the Goddess (or Facing the Dragon);
- Temptations that try to keep you from following the path;
- Atonement (where you come face to face with yourself and whoever holds the ultimate power in your life);
- Apotheosis (which is when you attain greater understanding);
- The Ultimate Boon (actually achieving the ultimate goal of your quest)
3. And The Return, which is:
- Refusal of the return (just wanting to ‘bask’ in what you’ve done, rather than finish);
- The Magic Flight (which is the journey back to where you’ve started, which may just as dangerous as any part of the journey;
- Rescue from Without (where you get help again, maybe after being injured on the way);
- Crossing the Return Threshold (actually returning);
- Master of Two Worlds (applying what you’ve learned/gained along the way); and
- Freedom to Live (the “Happily Ever After”).
That’s a lot to take in, but it’s great to read into more of these, because when you’re on your personal journey, you’ll recognize a lot of these stages.
It’s also helpful to think of movies like Star Wars and The Matrix and their story arcs. They all follow the path of the Hero’s Journey very faithfully.
When you study these, and know what’s coming, you can prepare for them in your own life. You can know that so many others have gone through the same kind of trials and tribulations that you are facing, and that there is guidance available for you.
Now, I’m nowhere near the end of my big Hero’s Journey; but I have a little wisdom on the process for you that may be of use. Here are a few of my observations:
The Call to Adventure:
This is the part that I think most people completely miss. We’re often blind, and just going through the trance of life. The mundane in our faces everyday keeps that call from being seen.
It’s often not something blindingly obvious; so you have to be on the lookout, and keep your antennae up for that call. It’s important that you find it.
Don’t SKIMP on your hero’s journey.
This is your LIFE, and you are completely worthy to attempt something grand.
You deserve a big and important Hero’s Journey. One that stretches you, that is challenging, and that leaves the world a better place because you took breath in it and attempted to dare greatly.
Courage is Feeling the Fear and Doing it Anyways.
It is OKAY to be scared and fearful on your journey. In fact, if you’re NOT scared of it, then you may not be trying hard enough, or setting your sights high enough.
There’s no growth in easy. There’s no courage without fear. Feeling scared, and doing it anyways is admirable. You are incredible and exceptional, and I EXPECT courage from you.
Watch for Serendipitous moments.
My friend Gio says that these moments are indicators that you are on the right path in your journey, and it’s easy to get OFF that path when you’re in a metaphorical dark forest.
So, keep an eye out for those blissful, Divine coincidences that are sometimes hard to explain.
You won’t be fighting lizards!
They are called dragons for a reason. I heard this from one of my virtual mentors, Brian Johnson in his book, “Philosopher’s Notes.”
If the challenges are too easy, then there isn’t any honor in conquering them. The bigger the dragon, the sweeter the victory.
If you’re attempting something grand, like I argue that you should be, then KNOW it isn’t easy. Just understanding this before and during your journey will help you when the time comes. It’s great to remember this, and keep it top of mind while you are neck deep in your journey.
Who you become during the Journey
One of the most important things about The Hero’s Journey is what you gain in undertaking it. The person you become through this process is so, so important.
If you’re on a real journey, you’re going to be made better through the process. You’ll gain new skills, you’ll learn persistence, resilience, tenacity, and resourcefulness. You’ll become a new and improved creature through the metamorphosis you undergo in the process.
There won’t be just one Hero’s Journey
You can and probably will have multiple Hero’s Journeys in your life. I think they are continuous, and maybe several are going concurrently…the whole process is completely unique to you. The journey you begin fresh out of school may be completely different than the one you undertake as a grandparent.
It’s all about others, too.
A grand Hero’s Journey should be about others, to help them. Luke destroyed the Death Star and saved the Galaxy. Your Hero’s Journey should seek to serve and make life better for others. When you complete it, the world (or at least your corner of it) should be changed and improved by what you’ve done.
YOU become the Supernatural Aid/Mentor for others.
You’re not just the protagonist for your own story — you’re the helper for others, both along the way and when you’re done.
I think it’s imperative for you to take your knowledge and what you’ve gained along the way and to use that to help others in their Hero’s Journey.
When you’re wise from the process, you become the Yoda to someone else’s Luke; the Good Witch to someone else’s Dorothy…you get the idea.
I truly hope that seeing this and reading about it leaves you changed. That it convinces you to leave your antenna up and receptive for that grand call to adventure.
I hope it’s something that is large and worthy of someone incredible like you. I know that you are worthy and deserving enough to attempt to do something great in your Hero’s Journey. I know you can do it.
Putting this in Practice:
- Watch “Finding Joe” at FindingJoeTheMovie.com. I’d suggest actually buying it, and referring back to it often. Have it going in the background as you’re working on your personal journey. It helps to remember that you’re ON one, and that you are striving for something greater.
- Google Joseph Campbell quotes. I prefer reading them on Goodreads, as I like the format. Get inspired. Print those suckers up and post them conspicuously where you’ll see and be motivated by them regularly.
- If you want to go deeper into this subject, look up and order Joseph Campbell’s interview with Bill Moyers called “The Power of Myth” on Audible, or in the book form. If you’re into this kind of wisdom, it’s pretty amazing. Some of his other works get into the weeds a bit, but this one has very regular gems. It’s worth reading and/or listening to several times.
- Go to and/or make your “Quiet Place.” That’s a place that’s deeply spiritual to you where, as Campbell says, you, “forget about who you owe money to, and who owes you money,” and you can be silent, and still — i.e. no cell phones. Get quiet and still.
Read a lot of something that inspires you and that brings you joy…or bliss. Keep reading and going to the place until something sings you its siren song and you have to follow.
- Journal on your life. See everything around you as your “ordinary world”, and start to write on what is your personal call to adventure. What’s been lurking in your heart? What’s been covered by years, or decades of everyday “trance” that has been keeping you from what you HAVE to do in the world?
- Write an Idea List on “The First Steps in My Personal Hero’s Journey.” What are some things you can do to find that Supernatural Aid? What can you do do to beat the reluctance and cross the threshold into the adventure of your life?
- Teach this to others. Become Yoda, you must.
Just do it. So that you, “dare greatly so that your place will never be with those cold and timid souls that know neither victory nor defeat.”
Ready to Upgrade?
Start your Hero’s Journey off the right way each day by preparing the night before:
Originally published at medium.com