The hero’s journey and innovation cycles


Joseph Campbell talked about the hero’s journey. He found this to be a mythological pattern across cultural story narratives.

Some examples, the story of Siddhartha (Buddha), the story of Jesus, the prodigal son, the story of Plato’s allegory of the cave, most fiction and films use this pattern.

The hero’s journey is often seen as the story of enlightment of transformation and triumph. It also may have less dramatic outcomes such as good old “change” (from its previous state).

I see the hero’s journey as a cycle of innovation, a cycle that repeats itself, mirrored by the cycles of change in most natural systems.

Using this mental model we may pose that perhaps most-if-not-all systems are constantly engaging themselves in heroic quests towards change and transformation. The cycle always includes fear and self-doubt but in the end of the cycle there is always triumph – the triumph of change.

Perhaps this model doesn’t tell you the darker story but – I would pose that without the hero going on this quest, if s/he stays behind, s/he will find certain death. In fiction this is often “told” as a backstory of what happened to those that stayed behind.

All people, all our organizations, all cultures, all organisms, face this journey every day. We venture into battling unknown challenges and we always get triumph of a result. As most scientists know, a negative result is not failure – it’s a discovery that leads to learning and adaptation.

Nature and the universe is a scientist, with endless curiousity and an endless ability to face fear, with infinite idealistic hope towards success. We have a lot to learn from nature.

Daniel Montano

You can find my feed here. …or at Technorati…

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