As a speaker, author or coach your often have a personality brand business and what better way to emphasise, illustrate & make your brand memorable than having story that brings it to life!?!
One process we always take our clients through is a unique process that is based around Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey Framework and it’s a great process to map your own story against to make you stand out in your industry.
Many people have used the core concept of the hero’s journey in their work — Tony Robbins for sure- and more recently Donald Miller has used it within the marketing setting to help speakers authors and coaches to put your brand squarely in front of your ideal avatar.
So — what is the Hero’s journey?
All stories follow a common narrative structure — even our own!!! When learning anything, we have to go through a process, and it actually follows a path that can be defined. That’s what Joseph Campbell did in his book The Hero With A Thousand Faces; breaking down the process means that we can contextualise our experiential learning, normalise it and realise that there is an end to the painful parts of that journey. That can be very reassuring. And that can be used to share our experiences too.
The outline of our experience usually follows this path, and as you learn this, you can usually see ALL your experiences in this to a greater or lesser extent. All stories are the same — they mirror the archetypal story, the hero’s journey. The known/unknown or the ordinary/adventure worlds have to be traversed for us to come out freer and clearer, and forever changed.
Here are the steps Joseph Campbell outlined in 1949 — we are sure you’ll recognise them:
- Call to adventure (challenged to change –trigger, life satisfaction / who am I questions?)
- Refusal of the call (reluctance / resistance to change — a fear of the unknown, ego freakout)
- Crossing the 1st threshold (committing to change; challenging thoughts & beliefs, distortions, fears and limitations)
- Meeting the mentor (finding wisdom and encouragement from others
- Tests allies and enemies (trials, tests, tribulations and a test of fate; a giving up point, evaluation of situations)
- Approach innermost cave (preparing for change, doing the internal work needed — facing the inner critic, healing the wounded self / child, dealing with the saboteur, the orphan and the victim)
- Ordeal (confronting change — belief action cycles, pain and pleasure pulls, future possibilities, transcending pain, acceptance and love)
- Reward (consequences of the attempt to change — mission, values, purpose, goals, rewrite story)
- The road back (re-dedication to change — resilience, shift, surrender, forgiveness, gratitude)
- Resurrection (last attempt to change, self mastery, reflection)
- Return with elixir (final mastery of the problem, sharing the love, sharing your gift)
- Ordinary world (current reality, no self awareness)
The key is that there are things that are known, and things that are unknown and those are the core source of our learning and what we then bring back into the world to share — that’s where we can build our businesses as speakers, authors and coaches.
In our course Power Up Your Purpose , we walk you through the structure to identify just how your experience actually informs your business, and even sets you up to use your experiences as the BASIS For your business.
Where else can you use the Hero’s journey be used?
Because of the universal nature of the story, you can actually use principles or steps of the hero’s journey to create your copy and landing pages, your products and your selling structures too.
- Per product development — every time you make a product, that product goes through the hero’s journey; there will be initial excitement, disbelief, as you start to make the product there will be pitfalls and doubt as well as wins, possibly even mentors and coaches to help you through, and then there will be the marketing efforts once you get out in the world (or ‘back to the village’!)
- To design presentations or key notes. Nancy Duarte’s book Resonate helps you go through this to an extent, telling the story of your learning points to your audience by using the structure of the hero’s journey — you can make anything come alive through using this as a ‘story arc’.
- ANY new phase or thing!!! If you really think about it, using this ‘path’ allows you to track and know the steps that something is likely to go through. There will always be moments you wade through treacle, or have to convince others, feeling like you are the lone wolf, as well as moments when you are revered as someone who has indeed brought that magic elixir back ‘home’. ALL our experiences follow this, so you can help someone in your coaching understand this when they are up levelling, or going through the changes that are required of them.
- In your branding. It warrants a separate look altogether, because it can revolutionise how and why you stand out.
What is a brand story?
The book ‘Building a Brand Story’ by Donald Miller uses elements of this path to outline how you can shape your marketing. The key point, which we emphatically echo and say all the time is this: Your CUSTOMER should be the hero of the story — NOT you or your brand!
Donald Miller created the SB7 Framework, 7 principles that use the hero’s journey concept. You’ll see the similarities, but also how you can apply it in your own marketing to your audience. If you read the ‘bold’ words as a sentence you’ll see how this works out:
- A Character — the customer is the hero, not your brand
Need we say more — avatar avatar avatar! It’s NEVER about you, it’s ALWAYS about them!
We are the guide, they are they hero. We are Yoda, they are Luke Skywalker. We have to know what THEY WANT or they will never pay attention
2. HAS A Problem: companies tend to sell solutions to external problems, but customers buy solutions to internal problems
This is classic wants and needs. We need to name the chaos they find themselves in, so they understand that we understand them and we need to go deep — just think about our avatar challenge! That’s why one of the first modules in our 90 Day Kickstart course is also focused on this straight away — we, as their guide, have to know what to help with.
3. And meets a guide — customers aren’t looking for another hero, they are looking for a guide
This is the character that helps the hero win. Obi-wan & Yoda to Luke Skywalker, Haymitch to Katniss, Bing Bong to Joy in the film Inside out (which is great by the way, do watch it if you’ve not!) Your brand is NOT the hero. The world needs to revolve around them not you.
4. Who gives them a plan — customers trust a guide who has a plan
By now you know what they want, and have defined 3 levels of problems — you have to layout the path — in our case, we help you define the customers user journey, so you can make your products that just make sense. You have to make it really clear that you know what you are doing and that you CAN help them TO make that plan.
5. And calls them to action — customers do not take action unless they are challenged to take action
We have to call them to action, because the comfort of staying ‘safe’ (or stuck) is better than the devil they imagine is there. It’s a transition or a direct ask from you to them. You have to make them need to engage and you have to invite them to do something. Or they just wont!
6. That helps them avoid failure — every human being is trying to avoid a tragic ending
This is the part of the journey or story where you show them the cost of NOT doing business with you. We have to help them see that they can indeed avoid the negativity and let them really understand what’s at stake. Your story needs stakes so people really ‘get’ why they need us.
7. And ends in a success — never assume people understand how your brand can change their lives. Tell them!
You have to spell out for people what success actually looks like and can be like. Some just don’t have the imagination or energy to see it. Explain how great their lives will be as a result of working with you — offer the vision of what their life can be if they engage with you. NB — this isn’t bragging, it’s helping!
Clarifying your message is the key here
The hero’s journey is in everything. We defy you not to see it now we’ve outlined it for you. Please go and review your own bio, your about page on your website and how you tell your story when you get the opportunity. Telling it using this story arc and path can make it make a lot more sense to you, and to others! It gives you the opportunity to share why you do what you do. You can then run your products, your company, your internal communications and pretty much anything else that you talk about through this path. It will make you more effective because it will make things easier to understand. And THAT is always the thing that comes before the nod or the yes. .
We invite you to share your story with us inside The Connection Hub and also to get clear on how what your hero’s journey might actually be a key to unlocking in YOUR business.