The connection between Identity, Myth, Maker and pretty much everything
This the first in a series of blog posts that aspires to reveal (in narrative form) my realization that all Entrepreneurial Journeys are similar in structure and form. It is the same structure and form that was identified long ago by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (in fact, it is the same structure that all myths share, in their presentment of obstacles facing all heroes in all literature, movies, myths, religions and stories ever told).
In my own Maker Journey, I have found that the most important part of the Journey is our own Identity, and ensuring we have control over our Narrative. This series of posts also tries to identify some of the new and amazing tools at our disposal to take control over our identity, and narrative. Please feel free to comment, and please recommend these posts if you like them ☺
The truth revealed itself, as it does, at a most unexpected time, and in a most unexpected way.
I was half-heartedly listening to another story being told at another evening event. The narrator was another very civilized individual that had crossed the threshold. He (or she) described his (or her) ‘pathway’ and ‘failures’ before he (or she) had achieved his (or her) ‘success.’
I chuckled at all the right times, and nodded with appreciation at the universal experiences he (or she) described, along his (or her) universal journey.
But it wasn’t inspiring me anymore. I’d heard it before, in a different tone, or a different posture, and it was becoming a little stale. The same hero. The same obstacles, in varying form. “Choose the obstacle! Make the journey the journey, and its worth the while.”
You’ll be happy to learn, I figured out the problem. And it wasn’t the speaker. It was me. I just needed to find my inspiration again. And I did. This is how I found it.
The Hero’s Journey
Our trajectories may vary, but our myths are universal. And that’s why I turned back to Joseph Campbell, who expressly influences many of the Lean Start-up literati, including Steve Blank and Eric Ries.
Campbell’s timeless classic, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, of course, influences us all (whether we are alerted to it or not), with its universal themes running through all philosophy, religion, psychology, screenplays, beliefs, politics and ideologies. Its germs so tiny, yet so vast.
The universal play of controlling one’s narrative to control one’s destiny, through obstacle after obstacle, is as relevant and true to us in our digital and mobile worlds today, as it is universal and timeless and consistent throughout our universe (and multiverse).
In his seminal book, Four Steps to the Epiphany, Steve Blank quotes Joseph Campbell, at p.iii of the Preface (entitled ‘The Hero’s Journey’):
A legendary hero is usually the founder of something — the founder of new age, the founder of a new religion, the founder of a new way of life. In order to found something new, one has to leave the old and go on a quest of the seed idea, a germinal idea that will have the potential of bringing forth that new thing.
‘Work hard, execute, follow your bliss. Listen, really listen. Iterate. repeat.’
That’s when it hit me.
It had been lurking in the back of my mind for some time, of course.
But when it chrystalized, I could not turn away. I knew I needed to write this series of blogposts. Sorry if you’ve heard it all before ;)
I can’t take full credit.
I follow many, many blogs about branding and narrative. And these probably influence my thinking. Hootsuite always nails it with their blog, and their Founder’s blog. But they also have awesome competitors writing fierce and incisive content, like Buffer, Mention, Socialbro, Respond.ly and others. I also follow alot of successful entrepreneurs turned investors, like @sacca, @jason, @hunterwalk, and others. They have all nailed the art of identity, and controlling their narrative.
The Maker Myth
It is the same old myth, told over and over again. From Return of the Jedi, to Mad Max. From Mark Zuckerberg, to Biz Stone, Ev Williams, Jack Dorsey, Kayvon Beykpour, Ryan Hoover, Shopify, Slack, Snapchat, Dropbox, Periscope, Meerkat, and many hundreds, thousands more — Every hero’s journey is the same. Every Maker journey is the Hero’s Journey.
Your journey is my journey. The way in which we see the world, and our attitude towards it, are as important as the skills we have, and actual obstacles we face. (We need to be careful, though — Entrepreneurialism is the new drug of choice. And we can convince ourselves of anything).
We all have the same set of obstacles, in varying orders, and that’s why it is so important to control your narrative.
Only through narrative and story, will we achieve Product Market Fit. (It’s worth checking out this blogpost by @danmartell, focusing on the story element of the Twitter Journey: Understanding Product Story to build a Product that Sticks).
Our Identity is our Obstacle
There are paradoxes that we all face. Some individual, and some collective.
The responsibilities we each undertake, how we self-define, how this creates our world for us, and how this limits us — That is our identity. Our identity oscillates, and vacillates, through time, and sometimes within instants.
Our individual obstacle (that is also collective) is that our identity shields from us from the true nature of the universe. According to Campbell (and many Gnostic traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism and others) we must shed ourselves of our identities in order to connect with our true calling, and yet, our identities are all that are important in our lives.
Its paradoxical, I know. But such is the underlying message of the Omni-Myth. That is why upon hearing our own Call to Adventure, we all initially Refuse the Call. We are attached to everything that forms our identity. We fear the unknown.
And yet, our identities are what force us to accept the call to adventure, and Cross the Threshold in order to follow our bliss. But, in the end, it is only through releasing our identity that we might experience the Rapture. And once we have experienced The Rapture, how do we ever expect to revert back to everyday existence, but through adoption of an archetype that fits with others’ identities, subjective and grounded in world-ly stereotypes, classifications and restrictions? Its all very complex.
My Maker Journey
Here’s the thing. I am on my own Maker Journey. I am risking everything, but I know that I am also gaining everything. Fortunately I (think that I may have) figured out the formula in advance.
You may or may not believe me, (and quite respectfully, I don’t care ;) as I have Met with the Goddess and Taken the Elixir. (I hope you might be interested to at least check in, every now and then — for amusement, or otherwise).
I plan to follow-up this blogpost with several more blogposts about my Maker Journey (which I honestly believe is connected intimately with the universal consciousness). The titles are as follows, please expect 1 per day for the next 2 weeks, unless I am tired, busy, surfing, otherwise occupied, or its a nice day to sit in a park in Montreal. These titles are not my titles, but yours. They are ours. Our own story, in its dynamic and ever-changing way, always fits under one or several of these titles. Everyone. Always.
(Please not that these are all in draft form until they are published, all comments are always welcome, before and after publication):
- The Call to Adventure
- Refusal of the Call
- Crossing the Threshold
- Path of Trials
- New Friends
- Meeting the Goddess
- Enemies and Challenges
- Personal Insight
- New Skills
- The Rapture
- The Call to Return
- Master of Two Worlds
I hope you join me for (at least) my next post tomorrow. And please retweet, if you like it☺ Or even ClicktoTweet! (Editable before sending)
Fair Use Caveat: Please understand that I may need to use some screenshots of classic Heroes from some awesome movies in these blogposts — In order to do so, I am invoking my privilege of Fair Use, found in the United States Copyright Act, Section 107(3). Any copyrighted material is being used in a reasonable manner, and in particular: the use of the material is in commentary (on the omni-hero myth and its relationship to ‘Makers’), the use is not commercial in nature, the amount of material is trivial (in relation to the work as a whole), and the effect of the use on the value of the work is minimal (and probably positive ☺). If you are the owner of the copyrighted material, and you would like to discuss further, please feel free to contact me here.