It is a period of civil war. Rebel
spaceships, striking from a hidden
base, have won their first victory
against the evil Galactic Empire.
During the battle, Rebel spies managed
to steal secret plans to the Empire’s
ultimate weapon, the Death Star, an
armoured space station with enough
power to destroy an entire planet.
Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents,
Princess Leia races home aboard her
starship, custodian of the stolen plans
that can save her people and restore
freedom to the galaxy….
This is the backstory and opening titles to the first Star Wars film, one of the greatest adventure films of all time, directed by George Lucas who had as his mentor Joseph Campbell.
Joseph Campbell, an American author and teacher, made a lifelong study of mythology and discovered a pattern in stories that goes back thousands years and is still relevant today. He wrote about this pattern in 1949 in his book The Hero With A Thousand Faces.
The Hero’s Journey is at the centre of every great story of struggle, self-discovery and victory.
Modern day authors and Hollywood film directors use this very same story template. George Lucas’ Star Wars tells the story of a Hero’s Journey.
The story begins in the ordinary world with our hero wishing for something better but not knowing what to do about it. Luke Skywalker is stuck on his uncle’s desolate farm.
In mythology there is a call to adventure, which is at first refused – resistance to change – reluctance to leave our comfort zone. R2D2 plays a portion of Princess Leia’s call for help and, as any young man might, Luke dreams of rescuing the maiden in distress but feels obligated to stay and help run the farm.
Next our hero meets his or her mentor. In our times this could be reading a book that resonates with you, or some other life experience. It might not be a dramatic vision or a bolt of lightening but more likely one of those “know it when you see it” or “aha” moments.
R2D2 plays the whole of Princess Leia’s message and reveals that Luke holds the plans of the Death Star. Obi Wan gives Luke his father’s light-sabre and tells him of his heritage. Luke now wants to help and the death of his aunt and uncle release him from his feelings of obligation.
Our hero commits himself to the change he has to make to fulfil his purpose. He crosses the threshold into the unknown – out of his comfort zone. In this unknown world we meet friends, face enemies, learn new skills, and undergo tests of endurance. Luke meets Solo and Chewbacca, Obi Wan teaches him about the Force; he faces Storm troopers, gets captured by the Death Star and is thrown into the rubbish compactor before escaping. Change is not without consequences however – Obi Wan sacrificed himself in facilitating the escape.
We now return to the known world equipped with our newfound knowledge and skills and ready to change things for the better. Luke joins the Rebel’s attack on the Death Star and uses the power of the Force to pull off the “impossible” shot that destroys the Death Star.
Luke and the team are honoured as heroes, evil has been destroyed and peace restored to the galaxy.
The Hero’s Journey is the story of anyone who has faced change in their life and has overcome challenges to reach their goals and aspirations. It is the story of everyone who has a notion of their purpose in life and struggles to identify and achieve that purpose.
I love the framework of The Hero’s Journey. It gives us the steps for overcoming life’s obstacles, enabling us to pursue our vision.
You can write your own life story and in making it your business to achieve what you want your life to be about, you are the hero.
Step 1: Set out your vision, the big picture of what you want your life to be about. If you find difficulty looking forward, try looking back. Imagine coming to the end of your life and looking back, what do you want to see?
Step 2: Analyse how you got to where you are, why you’re stuck and what you have to change to get closer to your vision.
Step 3: Make a step-by-step plan and then commit to crossing the threshold and taking action to implement it.
In a lifetime we all face change and overcome adversity several times over. It’s a never-ending circle and each time we go round we learn more about ourselves and come closer to fulfilling our dreams.
Does this resonate with you? Are you ready to take responsibility for the business of your life, to take control and live life on your own terms? If you are ready, book a call.
I once gave a presentation about The Hero’s Journey with reference to Star Wars only to find that one or two people had never heard of Star Wars. And this at a time when there was huge publicity about the several prequels and sequels being made.
If you want to know more, there are literally thousands of references on Google about Joseph Campbell and The Hero’s Journey using Star Wars and other films to illustrate the steps of the journey.
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