The Way of Heroes

by Murray Johannsen. Excerpt From: For a Change, Chapter Titled “On the Journey of Discovery,” Copyright © 2014  Access The Ebook at Apple’s ITunes. Feel free to connect with the author by  Linkedin or by  email

Overview

512px-Accolade_by_Edmund_Blair_Leighton

Edmund Blair (1853-1922): Accolade

“The difficult problems in life always start off being simple. Great affairs always start off being small.”― Lao Tzu

The Journey is a mythic pattern, one that has been with us throughout the ages. A mythic or archetypical pattern is something that keeps getting repeated (with slight variations). Not only do these patterns get repeated in individuals (i.e. narcissism), but it can be seen in large groups as well. For example, financial bubbles such as tulipmania, real estate run-ups, stocks appreciation, gold bugs, etc. will continue in the future.

There are many different types of heroes’ journeys, but we will cover three major patterns: 

• The Treasure Hunt

• Seeking the Divine

• Journey of Self-Discovery

The last two are related. Discovery can lead to the Sacred, but those on Treasure Hunts are less likely to try the other two.

 “We can be Heroes.” — Heroes Lyrics by David Bowie and Brian Eno (1997)

Holy-grail-round-table-bnf-ms_fr-116F-f610v-15th-detail
Unknown Artist 15th Century. King Arthur’s knights gathered at the Round Table see a vision of the Holy Grail which is made of gold and decorated with jewels, held by two angels.

Sooner or later, many who seek to do anything out the ordinary  face a fundamental truth — that to achieve success they must adapt the Way of Heroes.

This is commonly seen in the movies. For example, Luke Skywalker was just a farmer until he want on the Hero’s Quest and learned how to use the Force. Bruce Wayne had neither the detective skills nor the fighting acumen needed, as shown in the movie Batman Begins (see Trailer).

For example, to be a great transformational leader or a great entrepreneur, you need both a bit of luck and boundless motivation to overcome the many problems and obstacles. But that is not enough, you need a strategy. And you need the knowledge and skills. It is not an easy road, the heroes’ journey. 

What fascinates us, is the understanding the we also are on a similar road. We start a novice, unskilled and ignorant, we end a wise human skilled in means.

Edmund_Blair_Leighton_-_The_Dedication
In the Middle Ages, at the beginning of a particularly hazardous journey, it would not be unusual for a traveler to seek the blessings of the divine. The more hazardous the road, the more important the blessing. And to receive the blessing, one would make a dedication. A knight setting out on a quest would dedicate himself to the overcome whatever difficulties one would encounter. Painting by: Edmund Blair Leighton (1853-1922), The Dedication.

The Hero’s Call To Adventure

How easy to do nothing—how hard to do anything.” — Sir Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister

A few get the call of adventure my entering the military. Others get the call by leaving home and getting a job. Some go to college leave the next for four to six year sand the they come back again. One could argue that college is not a call to advernture, at all, it just postponens childhood. However, the call is given to for those who choose to The Path of Greatness of being an entrepreneur. 

Leighton,_Frederic_-_Perseus_On_Pegasus_Hastening_To_the_Rescue_of_Andromeda_-_1895-96
Frederic Leighton (1830–1896): Perseus On Pegasus Hastening To Rescue Andromeda

To understand the journey, you also need to understand the nature of the Hero in history and modern times. It’s important for you to adapt the mindset of the Hero or you will surely give up when the going gets tough.

To face down your vulnerabilities and flaws, to deal with threats, to achieve your vision; you overcome many challenges, challenges similar to those faced by the Heroes of yore.

The First Hero Story

512px-Statue_of_Gilgamesh,_U.Sydney
The story of the hero is inherent in one of the earliest literary works that we know of, the Epic of Gilgamesh, which was written somewhere between 2750 and 2500 BCE. Image by: D. Gordon Robertson from the University of Sydney

 

The story of the hero is inherent in one of the earliest literary works that we know of, the Epic of Gilgamesh, which was written somewhere between 2750 and 2500 BCE.

In this introduction, one hears about the essential nature of the Hero who is also King. As was said:

Take and read out from the lapis lazuli tablet how Gilgamesh went through every hardship. Supreme over other kings, lordly in appearance, he is the hero, born of Uruk, the goring wild bull. He walks out in front, the leader, and walks at the rear, trusted by his companions. Mighty net, protector of his people. From Tablet 1: Translated by Maureen Gallery Kovacs

In this passage, one hears the essence of the great city manger, general, governor, or entrepreneur — a person who can be trusted to protect. By this definition, most CEOs are neither great, nor a hero.

The Heroes Story Today

Rather than hearing the story around campfires or in a classroom, the medium has changed. Now the story is told in stereo surround sound in 3D no less.

In fact the largest money making movies of all time have all been based on the epic of the Hero (see below).

U.S. Sales

Non-American Sales

Total

Avatar (2009)

$ 760

$ 2021

$ 2781

Titanic (1997)

$ 658

$ 1526

$ 2185

The Avengers (2012)

$623

$892

$1515

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

$ 381

$ 960

$ 1341

Iron Man 3 (2013)

$409

$805

$1214

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

$ 377

$ 752

$ 1129

Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon (2011)

$ 350

$ 762

$ 1113

Source: World Box Office, Data Extracted during Dec of 2013

In many of these stories, the Hero evolves. Luke Skywalker went from farmer to a warrior by figuring out how to use the Force; Green Lantern from pilot to Protector by unlocking the nature of will-power to overcome fear; Aragorn moved from the being a forest loner to king in the J.R.R. Tolkien’s’ Return of the King; and Rose (in Titanic) went from being pushed into a loveless marriage trapped in the prison of social class to a meaningful life.

A Journey of Discovery changes a hero in fundamental ways. Each challenge overcome unlocks resources to face even bigger challenge later. The nature of the journey makes one more resilient and surely more determined.

The second element necessary to succeed is the struggle to overcome fear and anxiety. One might say that if you cannot overcome fear, the challenge is not undertaken.

Dark_knight_rises_poster
Of the three movies in the Dark Night series by Christopher Nolan, the first one, Batman Begins and the last one, the Dark Knight Rises especially have overcoming fear as an underlying theme. Batman would not have been possible without Bruce Wayne becoming both fearless and courageous. Source of Image: Wikipedia

Conclusion

The comic books hero’s such as a Spiderman, Batman and Superman could have chosen not to fight the bad guys. You can choose to read this guide and do nothing. Or you can begin your own heroic Journey of Discovery by using this as a starting point.

References and Resources

For More Readings on The Hero. This series of short articles from public television is an overview of a number of aspects of the quest and lists some of the classic heroes such as Jason, Joan of Arc, and Hercules.

Goins, Jeff (N.D.) Heroes and Their Tragic Flaws: Achilles to Bethany Hilton.

Kovacs, Maureen (N.D.) Athenaeum Library of Philosophy. The Epic of Gilgamesh.

World Box Office Site,

Wikipedia, Monomyth, Data Extracted during Dec of 2013

Leadership Skill Development