The Hero’s Journey

A TED Talk by Paul Tudor Jones II about capitalism and income inequality recently caught my attention. I’ve listened to it multiple times as Jones II message resonates with me deeply because so many highly acclaimed economists are calling for another economic correction in late 2015, early 2016. Our focus on short-term quarterly earnings and corporate profits – at the expense of human well being – is threatening the foundation of our society as we know it. As Jones’ details in his talk, at some point, income inequality will likely be corrected through revolution, higher taxes, or wars.

There have to be better ways to drive human well being, fulfillment, and achievement.

In the 21st century, increased wealth and profits must come with greater corporate and personal social responsibility. That can take shape in a variety of ways, but what is most important is that you discover for yourself just how you’ll generate value for the greater good of humankind. The seemingly endless cycle of driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic to a job, being disengaged at that job, driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic home, watching a couple of hours of television, getting a poor night’s rest, doing it again the next day, and then hoping you can do something you actually love on the weekend seems mighty unfulfilling to me.

One of the ways you can prepare yourself for the coming economic crisis is to thoroughly understand your life’s  mission. By knowing and living your mission each day, you’ll be better able manage change as it occurs around you. I like to look at this through the lens of a simplified version of the hero’s journey. Joseph Cambell wrote the book, The Hero’s Journey, as a way to describe the framework he used when writing his works. Although his book was used to write many mythogical stories, I think the framework can apply to human development today.

My simplified version looks like this –

  1. What recurring challenge did you encounter in your teens, twenties, and early thirties?
  2. What process did you utilize to overcome the challenge?
  3. What group of people would you most like to help?
  4. Through what channels (full-time job, part-time job, entrepreneurship, volunteering, joining a professional association or board of directors, etc.) can you teach others (from question #3) your process (from question #2) for overcoming your/their challenges (from question #1) so that they have the tools to achieve their life’s mission?

As an example, I have a friend whose formative years were spent living in a very dictatorial home. His creativity was stifled (his challenge – #1 above) by family and friends who said his gift for art was of no use in his career. So, he toiled for decades in schools and entry-level jobs that didn’t allow him to be his true and authentic self. As he broke free of the negativity, he began to come out of his shell by creating art (his process – #2 above) and placing them for display at galleries. As his art garnered more attention, he sold more and more pieces, quit his job, and focused on helping younger people (his group – #3 above) by teaching classes at a community college.

So, I ask you… through what channels are you teaching others your process for overcoming challenges? And, if Jones II and the economists are correct, how quickly can you engage a wide variety of channels to live your life’s mission, build your brand, generate value for others, and best manage change as it occurs around you?

I’m crossing my fingers that you can leave the bumper-to-bumper traffic in the rear view mirror.