THE BLOG
11/27/2013 11:53 am ET Updated Jan 27, 2014

Inspired Leadership -- Longing for the Hero's Journey

I've spent most of my life longing for the hero's journey. My guess is that every middle-class resident of the Western hemisphere has too. Yeah, I'm talking to you.

Here's the abridged hero's journey, so we're on the same page:
Daily life → Call to Adventure → Refusing the Call → Getting Help → Jumping In → Adversity (lots of it, gradually worse each time) → Victory / Redemption / Save the World / New Life

Our sense of what it means to be human -- to live a fulfilled life -- has been infused with the longing for this Call to Adventure, and for the adventure itself. And this glory-lust is only made stronger by the movies and TV shows and ads that have shown us the satisfaction of being the hero ←(a gender-neutral word, to me).

We see the hero answering the Call and rising above Adversity to arrive at Redemption, and we say to ourselves, "Yep, that's my destiny. Greatness."

I don't know about you, but right after I remind myself I'm born for greatness, my self-talk always goes straight to a complaint like, "if only my call to adventure would hurry up and get here!" Then it kicks in: the, "and if only the modern world wasn't so safe and predictable nowadays, I'd actually have some adversity to overcome" diatribe.

Then, one semi-logical way or another, it arrives at the ultimate conclusion: "I should have been born (in medieval times, in the pioneering days of the Gold Rush, in a third world country, in the lead role of the movie I just watched, etc)."

I mean, damn it!! How am I supposed to be a hero anyway? Capricious Fate is cruel to taunt me with this longing and then not call me to adventure, right?

Victim, party of one, your table is ready.

I lived for what felt like an eternity, believing that I was the victim of a Universe that had falsely promised to "discover me, and turn me into a hero-star."

Just like every good hero, I was Refusing the Call every time I felt a compelling passion to pursue something, but talked myself out of it. In fact, I was so dead-set on the idea that the Call would come from outside of me, that I didn't even hear it inside. Fortunately, it never went away. It was always there, begging to be heard, just like your inner voice.

Turns out, the Call to Adventure is your "calling" -- your dream career, your passion, your purpose. And what happens when you actually respond? Adventure, followed by that necessary adversity that will shape a hero out of you. The entire hero's journey immediately kicks into gear when you throw caution to the wind and take action on your heart's calling.

Yeah, I know... I just said "take action." Ain't it a bitch? I mean, the distance between hearing the Call and actually taking action is a distance that feels like stepping out onto a tightrope across the Grand Canyon. It's gut-wrenchingly scary, for every hero, every time, and there's no way around the sheer terror.

I have felt that terror over and over again. I feel it every time I step out to play at a new level in pursuing my vision, my Calling.

But life wasn't always so full of terror and fulfillment. Like many modern would-be-heroes, I was pretty good at Refusing the Call (which is what we're supposed to do, right?) I'd pour a cocktail. Watch Hulu. Clean the bathroom. You name it.

Heck, you might be Refusing the Call right now, by sitting on your ass and having the gall to share this article on Facebook and talk about how it hit home for you, right before you take bold action... by getting another cup of coffee.

Unless you're ready to wake up for real -- awaken to a sense of purpose, to your true Calling. Because when you do, there will still be no shortage of diversions available, but you find that diversions are harder to stomach in the presence of purpose. That is, once you know your Call -- which is in you, and which is you -- diversions leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Now is the time to listen to your inner Calling, and take action. Mine says, "Global collaboration for a sustainable future." If you think you're not hearing a voice inside, go ahead and borrow mine (I'm kidding.) We can use leaders like you, joining us for the sake of our planet's future (I'm not kidding.)

On the other hand, if you're hearing a Calling but you're not sure that the voice you're hearing is the "right Calling," take a few steps out onto the tightrope of whatever Call is currently speaking to you, and then more guidance will come. The voice will always be there, inside.

Adventure awaits...