On Monday I saw the documentary “Finding Joe” at the Wake Up Sydney event. The film explores the Hero’s Journey and the wisdom of Joseph Campbell. The thing I loved the most about this film is that it takes the story well beyond film and myth, to look at its application to personal psychology.

The thing that I have been contemplating on since though is ‘changemaking’ as an archetypal journey. In the classic “hero’s journey”, the stories and myths are about a hero who experiences ‘separation’ from their community or tribe, to depart and have a series of experiences that add up to the gaining of wisdom. The hero then returns to the community to share the wisdom gained.

For the changemaker it seems to be a different kind of journey. Firstly, the separation is quite different. Often in my observation, the changemaker stays embedded within the community they are seeking to serve. The separation is less a physical one, and more of an inner separation. They deal with the rejection and doubts of their family, friends and peers. This may in fact make the whole acceptance of “The Call to Adventure” even more difficult, as the “Ordinary World” is constantly there as a reminder and lure back to the old ways of thinking and doing. Perhaps for those changemakers working in the field of international development or communities outside their own, the separation is much neater.

The other observation I made was that the ‘classic journey’ is explicitly about personal transformation. Of course, the hero doesn’t always know that this is what he or she is in for, but the stories are always built around themselves growing and changing. It is after the change that the hero “returns” to then be of greater ‘service’ to their community.

The ‘changemakers’ journey’ is different. The changemaker embarks on a journey to change others, society, their community. They still face all the challenges that the hero goes through (the ordeals, slaying the dragon etc), but this is often hidden from view. Service to community IS the journey, as opposed to something that occurs at the end of the journey. In the field of entrepreneurship and changemaking, the focus is so often put on impact and aspects outside of self that we forget to look at the unfolding of self that occurs through service and changemaking.

So as you can see, this is still fairly unformed, but I get the sense that this is going to be a bigger area of exploration. Thank you Joe.

5 thoughts on “Finding Joe, and the changemakers’ journey

  1. Lovely sense of whimsy hides your deeper thinking on this benny! really love how your are engaging in what motivates and maintains changemakers on a deeper level. Changemaking really is in your DNA!

      1. it is well worth delving into the changemakers myth… i have a good mate in Italy who would love to chat with you about this…. one of the questions we pose at Shine is what connects you? To your purpose, to others, what are you connected to that keeps you in action, motivated, and on track… it is definitely a mythical source… beyong personality…

  2. Hello! Love the words and insights regarding business, art, entrepreneurship and the Hero’s Journey. đŸ™‚

    You would enjoy the words and videos at Hero’s Journey Entrepreneurship:


    “A vast demand exists for the classical ideals performed in the contemporary context–for honor, integrity, courage, and committment–on Wall Street and Main Street, in Hollywood and the Heartland, in Academia and Government. And thus opportunity abounds for entrepreneurs who keep the higher ideals above the bottom line–for humble heroes in all walks of life.

    The same classical values guiding the rising artistic renaissance will protect the artists’ intellectual property. The immortal ideals which guide the story of blockbuster books and movies such as The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Star Wars, are the very same ideals underlying the United States Constitution. These classic ideals–which pervade Homer, Plato, Shakespeare, and the Bible–are the source of both epic story and property rights, of law and business, of academia and civilization.

    It is great to witness classical ideals performed in Middle Earth, upon the Scottish Highlands, long ago, in a galaxy far, far, away, and in Narnia, but too, such ideals must be perpetually performed in the contemporary context and living language.”

    1. Thanks for sharing this Elliot. Are you personally engaged in this area. Would love to hear of other things you have come across in this area. A number of years ago there was an event in California called Storycon: World Summit on the Art, Science and Application of Story. From what I know it isn’t running any more. It was a fascinating gathering of practitioners who are applying story to fields including business, diplomacy, education and health care among others. I managed to get to two of these, and am always interested in hearing of others who are applying the Hero’s Journey to their work.

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