The Hero’s Journey: A Model for Ordinary Folks

The hero journey is inside of you; tear off the veils and open the mystery of your self.” ~ Joseph Campbell

Mythologist Joseph Campbell is credited with developing the concept of the hero’s journey, which often serves as a model for mythic stories; think Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, The Matrix, Batman, and The Lion King, among others. 

Recently a couple of friends of mine discussed how the hero’s journey could be applied to everyday life by ordinary people. The conversation occurred on the podcast Repurpose Your Career, hosted by Marc Miller; his guest was David Lee. Both Marc and David are career development pros, and their conversation reflected how the hero’s journey model is applicable to one’s career journey.  I’ve included a link to their conversation at the end of this post.

The Hero’s Journey Model

Basically (very basic), the hero’s journey model depicts an ordinary person who is given a call to adventure and initially rejects the call, instead desiring to stay within their comfort zone. 

A mentor/guide shows up and convinces the hero that they need to undertake the journey. With their mentor/guide, the hero sets off into the unknown; encounters a number of obstacles and challenges, some of which the hero overcomes with the aid of their guide and other helpers. In other challenges, they fail. 

Through it all, the hero experiences tremendous growth and transformation. Finally returning to their village with much to give others. 

How To Use The Hero’s Journey Model In Our Life/Career

So how does this apply to us “ordinary folks”?

Well, according to Marc and David, the key is in looking at our life/career path through a bigger lens and finding the lessons in the inflections. 

The key question to ask ourselves is “What’s my purpose at this stage in my life/career?

To properly respond, the hero (us) needs to be mindful and present; constantly looking for clues — looking for wisdom from everyday experiences. 

In a subsequent conversation with David, he noted a number of questions to ask ourselves as we progress through the hero’s journey:

  • Who is your mentor? Who is/are the person/people, real or imagined, that guide you through your journey?
  • What has been the big transitions/shocks to your system?
  • What gifts do you bring?
  • What did the difficult people in your life teach you?

The idea of the hero’s journey is to bring more thoughtfulness, intentionality, wisdom, and fascination to our lives. It provides courage to us “everyday people” to embrace and tackle the challenges we face. 

What Do You Think?

Does the hero’s journey model provide an appropriate framework for you as you deal with the challenges you’re facing? 

Is there something missing that the model doesn’t address?

Talk to me. Send me an email at I want to hear what you’ve got to say.

You can listen to Marc’s and David’s conversation here

A version of this post was sent earlier to my email newsletter subscribers. If you’d like to get my best work first, subscribe to the newsletter. I NEVER share your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time if it’s not a good fit.

If you’re struggling with how to achieve your career goals let’s chat about how I can help. You can use this link to my calendar to schedule the best time to talk.

Image copyright: stunningart