“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
Joseph Campbell wrote about ‘The Hero’s Journey’ which you will see played out in most Hollywood or epic tales: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Hunger Games, every Will Smith film ever...
And there are some good lessons we can learn from this when we face big moments in our lives, such as graduation year and career change when we face a ‘third-life crisis’.
In short, here is the hero Journey (but for a great video summary by TED-Ed check the link below):
· Our Hero starts in their everyday life, when a challenge or adventure is presented (think, Frodo chilling in the Shire in Lord of the Rings);
· Our hero is normally given some great advice by a mentor (Yoda in Star Wars, this is);
· They dive into the underworld, experience the dark-side, fight their enemies, gain strengths they never imagined, become wiser, stronger or nimbler. Mini failures and growth. (insert classic Rocky training montage here);
· At some point in the story, they face near certain death or defeat. Recovering from this only makes them stronger as they eventually overcome their greatest challenge or enemy (like when Andie takes her team of misfits to beat the cool kids and win the dance championship in Step Up 2 ... or so I heard);
· After this, the hero returns to their old world, where there is peace and comfort (spoiler alert: just like in Finding Nemo).
· Our hero is now bigger, stronger, wiser… ready for the next adventure! (or an epic return like Step Up 3D! Yay!).
What adventure lies ahead in your life that you are hesitant to embark on?
Whatever it is, if it’s worthwhile it will most probably be laden with danger, risk and difficulty. Just think of your proudest moments, your most treasured memories and your biggest achievements? Which of those was without overcoming danger, risk or difficulty?
Very often, the people I speak with when coaching, are unhappy with their current situation, living for the weekends and ready. But they are fearful of entering the cave that Joseph Campbell refers to. Making a career change is daunting and risky and unknown.
1. Recognise where you are in your Hero journey. It’s important to know this so that you see if you are ready for a new challenge, or perhaps to just give you courage to embrace the challenge you are facing, knowing you can overcome it and emerge a new kind of hero. If you’re in your comfort zone, be ready and awake to your next Hero journey.
2. Find your Yoda! If you have already identified that a new adventure is looming, then the first thing you need to do is to get a great mentor in your life who can guide you and give you the courage to take that first step. It can be hard and often unwise to proceed without first seeking advice from someone who has been through something similar.
3. Ask your 80-year-old self for advice. Thinking about life in context of the broader journey you are on can be a great way to relieve anxiety from relatively tiny concerns you have about a difficult conversation or a new learning experience.
4. Embrace failure. Get to love the cycle of “Fail. Learn. Grow. Repeat”. If failing is something super hard for you right now, try breaking your big challenges up into smaller ones and start by risking failing at those, building your way up to even bigger challenges.
5. Jump! If you want to avoid a regret-filled life, there will come a point where you just need to take the plunge. Know that if you don’t take that first step, that you’ll not learn, you’ll not grow and you’ll forever wonder what would have happened … and let’s face it, Batman would be a pretty forgettable film if Bruce Wayne decided not to try to fight crime!
Good luck to you all on the adventures of life!
Here’s the link for the Hero’s Journey video. Enjoy!