The Hero's Journey

The following is a speech I gave at Toastmasters.

Heroes .

Heroes are all around us. Whether they’re in film, movies, books or in real life. Heroes are everywhere.

They show us the way.

We look to them like the beacon of light

Everyone aspires to be like famous heroes heroes like

  • luke skywalker
  • jacinta ardern
  • henry ford
  • princess diana

All these people are famous and have done great things. We all aspire to be like them

One thing you might not know though, is that heroes all have something in common.

Back in 1949 Joseph Campbell wrote a book called ‘A Hero with A Thousand Faces’ and in this book he outlines the 17 different phases that go into a hero’s journey.

These are consistent across every single kind of hero that there is, but they’re most commonly found in in film or books.

These 17 phases consist of three main acts which are,

  1. the departure
  2. the initiation
  3. the return

The departure act this is where the hero is beginning their journey. You know, the start of the movie. The hero doesn’t really know what’s going on, they’re a bit shy and then they leave this place that they’re from and they begin the journey.

This is like in the lion king where Simba’s dad dies and he leaves the pride and goes on his journey. Or in Star Wars where Luke Skywalker is asked by Obi-Wan to leave his home planet and travel to Alderaan. Or in Harry Potter where Harry gets the letter to travel to Hogwarts.

These are all scenarios where the hero is asked to to rise up to something greater than themselves.

This act is also typically accompanied by some kind of mentor or friendship group that allows the hero to step up.

Next, the initiation.

This is really the meat of the story. This is where the hero begins to learn more about the world. They get exposed to things that are outside of their previous world view.

In the Lion King this is where Simba is traveling through the forest with Timone and Pumba discovering all these things that he never thought existed. This is like Star Wars where Luke Skywalker is going out to the death star. He’s rescuing Leia, he’s seeing clones he’s doing all these amazing things. This is like Harry Potter, where Harry is in Hogwarts discovering all these things about magic, he’s discovering all these new things he never never knew existed.

Finally, the last phase the most important: the return.

This is where the hero achieves some amazing goal, they do something great and then they return back to where they’re originally from as a changed person having undergone some sort of transformation.

So, the Lion King. Simba comes back to the pride, defeats Scar and rises up as the new leader of the pride, the new hero of the land. In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker blows up the death star and returns to the resistance as a hero of the rebel alliance. Or Harry Potter where Harry defeats Voldemort and returns back to Hogwarts as a new hero.

It’s pretty incredible. I’ve just done three movies but these principles apply to every almost every single movie. One thing that’s one thing that’s very interesting is the the transformation that goes on with the character.

Simba is a great example. He starts off the movie as this naive young thing, doesn’t really know what he’s doing.

He goes on this huge transformation and returns to the pride as someone that’s completely different. He can’t really relate to what he used to be. He’s undergone this psychological transformation.

What’s important with this with model of the hero’s journey is that it’s not just some technique to apply to like storytelling, it’s not like “I’m going to write a novel I better follow these 17 phases and then someone will read it and they’ll be hooked and it’s going to be amazing”.

That’s not really what it’s about, it’s much more than that.

The Hero’s Journey is a framework by which people analyse stories. This is the way that you relate to stories that happen in real life and in novels and stories and it’s a way that you can look in your own life.

It’s a way that you can look at things that you do and you can frame them in this context of the hero’s journey.

For example, in my life, next year i’m traveling to Melbourne to begin work. So right now in the context of the heroes journey i’m right at the start. I’m in the departure stage.

If you frame that in terms of the hero’s journey, I know that there’s going to be challenges and things I need to face and no doubt be somewhat difficult to get used to living in. I also know that at the end there’s the return. There’s the psychological transformation. There’s this new person that will be created at the end of this journey.

So i encourage you all to to apply this to your own lives. The Hero’s Journey does get used in in psychology. If someone’s facing trouble they can frame it in terms of the hero’s journey. How they’re going through struggle and how that relates to them being the hero of their life. How they can help resolve that struggle by staying in that frame.

So I encourage you all to to look at your life through the hero’s journey context.

Remember that YOU are the main character of your life. YOU are the hero of your journey.