3 min read

You know those moments where you finally actually listen to something that you’ve heard a thousand times, and thought you already knew?

It happened to me twice this last week.

First of all, my girlfriend was right and we should’ve started watching Ozark sooner.

Second of all, my good friend Reagan Pugh blew my mind with the Hero’s Journey.

The Hero’s Journey was studied and made popular by Joseph Campbell. It’s the idea that most stories follow the same rough narrative structure:

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

Think about Lion King. Think about Lord of the Rings.

Just about every Disney or Pixar movie you watch follows the Hero’s Journey.

There are up to 17 common stages of the Hero’s Journey, divided into three acts:

  1. Departure
  2. Initiation
  3. Return

In Departure, the hero leaves his ordinary life (or world) to go on an adventure. They are reluctant at first, but are inspired and helped by a mentor.

In Initiation, the hero crosses into this new world and faces a whole bunch of challenges – eventually leading to the “innermost cave” or the central conflict of the journey. The hero goes through “the ordeal” and overcomes the enemy (or antagonist) and gains a reward.

Finally, in the Return, the hero comes back to the ordinary world to serve the people there as a mentor.

OK – back to Reagan.

Reagan is one of the best storytellers I’ve ever met (makes sense for a professional speaker) and I’ve had the good fortune of working with him through Unreal Collective for a couple years now.

Reagan hosted a workshop with the community to discuss how the Hero’s Journey relates to our work. Donald Miller has made an agency called StoryBrand that incorporates the Hero’s Journey into marketing your marketing.

There is one major takeaway that finally stuck with me, after a thousand times hearing about the Hero’s Journey:

You are not the hero.

Your client or customer is the hero.

YOU are the mentor (or guide).

When you think through this lens, you start to see a LOT of poor marketing.

You start to understand why some of your own marketing works, or doesn’t.

You see – we are all the hero of our own story. I’m the hero of my story, and you’re the hero of your story.

I’m not the hero of your story.

Nope, I’m here to play the role of mentor for everyone else that isn’t me.

You don’t care about the story in which I’m the hero – you care about YOUR story. The story where YOU are the hero.

The only time you will pay attention to me is when I am playing the role of guide. When I’m helping YOU be a better hero in your story.

If you want people to pay attention to you (or pay you) you need to understand that you are there to help the hero overcome the obstacle. You’re there to help the hero find the reward.

You’re not there to take center stage. Save that for your own Hero’s Journey.