The Hero’s Journey Narrative for Storytelling in Business Environments Outlined by a Career Coaching Expert
Storytelling is a powerful tool in business. It can be used to convey important messages, inspire change, and engage stakeholders. One of the most effective storytelling frameworks is the Hero’s Journey, a narrative structure that has been used in literature, movies, and even business environments to create compelling stories that resonate with audiences.
In this blog, we will explore how a career coaching expert can use the Hero’s Journey narrative to help individuals and organizations tell impactful stories that inspire action and bring about change.
“The best brands are built on great stories.”
– Ian Rowden
The Hero’s Journey narrative – three acts and 12 stages
The Hero’s Journey narrative is a structure that has been used by storytellers since ancient times. It consists of three acts and 12 stages, each of which helps to create a compelling story that engages the audience.
Act 1: Departure
The first act of the Hero’s Journey narrative is the departure stage. This is where the hero leaves their ordinary world and begins their journey. In business environments, this could represent the moment when an individual or organization recognizes a need for change, whether it’s launching a new product, entering a new market, or addressing a challenge within the company.
The Call to Adventure In this stage, the hero is presented with a challenge or opportunity that they cannot ignore. In business, this could be a new market opportunity, a need to innovate or adapt to changing market conditions, or a crisis that requires immediate attention.
Refusal of the Call In this stage, the hero may initially resist the call to adventure due to fear, doubt, or a sense of inadequacy. In business, this could manifest as reluctance to take risks or try new things, or a belief that the challenge is too difficult or impossible to overcome.
Supernatural Aid At this stage, the hero meets a mentor or helper who provides guidance, knowledge, or resources to help them overcome their fears and doubts. In business, this could be a coach, mentor, consultant, or supportive team member who provides guidance, expertise, or a fresh perspective.
Crossing the First Threshold This is the point of no return, where the hero leaves their comfort zone and enters a new world. In business, this could represent the moment when an individual or organization commits to a new strategy or approach, and takes the first steps to implement it.
Act 2: Initiation
The second act of the Hero’s Journey narrative is the initiation stage. This is where the hero faces a series of challenges and tests that help them develop new skills, gain knowledge, and overcome obstacles.
The Road of Trials In this stage, the hero faces a series of challenges, setbacks, and obstacles that test their resolve, skills, and courage. In business, this could manifest as unexpected challenges, competition, or resistance from stakeholders.
Meeting with the Goddess At this stage, the hero encounters a feminine energy that provides inspiration, motivation, or healing. In business, this could be a supportive colleague, mentor, or customer who provides encouragement or feedback.
Temptation In this stage, the hero may face temptations or distractions that threaten to derail their journey. In business, this could manifest as the temptation to take shortcuts or compromise values to achieve success.
Atonement with the Father At this stage, the hero faces a final test that requires them to confront their fears, doubts, or past mistakes. In business, this could represent the moment when an individual or organization takes responsibility for past mistakes or addresses cultural or systemic issues that have held them back.
Apotheosis In this stage, the hero achieves a state of enlightenment, understanding, or acceptance. In business, this could manifest as a breakthrough in understanding the market, a new perspective on a problem, or a moment of clarity that leads to a new approach.
Act 3: Return
The final act of the Hero’s Journey narrative is the return stage. This is where the hero returns to their ordinary world, transformed by their journey and ready to share their knowledge and experience with others.
The Ultimate Boon In this stage, the hero achieves their ultimate goal or objective. In business, this could be the successful launch of a new product, the attainment of a major milestone, or the achievement of a significant business objective.
Refusal of the Return At this stage, the hero may initially resist the idea of returning to their ordinary world, preferring to stay in the transformed state they have achieved. In business, this could manifest as reluctance to return to the old ways of doing things or a desire to stay in a more innovative or creative mindset.
The Master of Two Worlds At this stage, the hero achieves a balance between their old and new selves, able to integrate their newfound knowledge and experience into their everyday life. In business, this could represent the moment when an individual or organization incorporates their new knowledge or experience into their operations or culture.
“A brand is a story that is always being told.”
– Scott Bedbury
Using the Hero’s Journey Narrative in Business Environments
The Hero’s Journey narrative can be a powerful tool in business environments, helping individuals and organizations tell compelling stories that engage stakeholders and inspire action.
A career coaching expert can use the Hero’s Journey narrative to help individuals identify their strengths, develop new skills, and overcome obstacles, while also helping organizations communicate their vision, values, and mission in a more impactful way.
The Hero’s Journey narrative
Here are some ways in which the Hero’s Journey narrative can be used in business environments:
Vision and Mission Statements
The Hero’s Journey narrative can be used to create more compelling vision and mission statements that resonate with stakeholders and inspire action. By framing the organization’s purpose as a journey, individuals can better understand the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and feel more motivated to take action.
The Hero’s Journey narrative can be used to communicate change initiatives more effectively. By framing the change as a journey, individuals can better understand the reasons behind the change, the challenges that lie ahead, and the benefits of achieving the goal.
The Hero’s Journey narrative can be used to develop leadership skills by helping individuals identify their strengths and weaknesses, develop new skills, and overcome obstacles. By using the narrative structure to guide coaching conversations, career coaches can help individuals become more effective leaders and better navigate the challenges of the business world.
“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller.
The storyteller sets the vision, values, and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.”
– Steve Jobs
How Steve Jobs used the Hero’s Journey narrative
Let’s take the example of Apple Inc. and how its CEO, Steve Jobs, used the Hero’s Journey narrative to build a powerful brand and inspire his team.
The Ordinary World When Jobs co-founded Apple in 1976, he was just a young entrepreneur with a vision for creating innovative products that would change the world. At the time, the computer industry was dominated by large, impersonal corporations like IBM, and the idea of a personal computer was still in its infancy.
The Call to Adventure For Jobs, the call to adventure came in the form of a desire to create a user-friendly computer that would appeal to a wider audience. He believed that computing should be accessible to everyone, not just tech experts or academics. This led him to develop the Macintosh, a revolutionary computer that would become a defining moment for Apple and the industry as a whole.
Refusal of the Call Although Jobs was passionate about his vision for the Macintosh, not everyone at Apple shared his enthusiasm. The project was controversial, and many employees felt that it was a risky move that could potentially harm the company. However, Jobs remained steadfast in his belief that the Macintosh was the future of computing and refused to back down.
Meeting the Mentor In Jobs’ case, his mentor was Jef Raskin, a computer scientist who had previously worked for Apple. Raskin was instrumental in helping Jobs develop the concept for the Macintosh, and the two worked closely together to refine the design and user experience.
Crossing the Threshold The launch of the Macintosh in 1984 was a defining moment for Apple and the industry as a whole. The computer was a hit with consumers and helped to establish Apple as a major player in the tech industry.
Tests, Allies, and Enemies As Apple continued to grow, it faced numerous challenges and setbacks. Jobs was famously ousted from the company in 1985, and Apple struggled to maintain its market share against competitors like Microsoft. However, Jobs remained committed to his vision and continued to innovate, eventually returning to Apple in 1997 and leading the company to new heights.
Approach to the Inmost Cave For Jobs, the inmost cave was the development of the iPod, which revolutionized the music industry and helped Apple to become one of the most valuable companies in the world. Jobs was always looking for new opportunities to disrupt industries and create innovative products that would change the world.
Ordeal The period of Jobs’ absence from Apple was a difficult time for the company, and it struggled to maintain its position as a leader in the tech industry. However, Jobs’ return in 1997 marked a turning point for the company, and he quickly set about reinvigorating its product line and culture.
Reward For Jobs, the ultimate reward was the creation of products that people loved and used every day. He was fiercely committed to design and usability, and his products reflected that commitment. Apple’s success under Jobs was a testament to his vision and leadership, and it inspired a generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.
The Road Back For Jobs, the road back was the development of the iPhone, which once again transformed the industry and cemented Apple’s position as a leader in technology. Jobs knew that the iPhone was a game-changer and pushed his team to develop it as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Resurrection Although Jobs passed away in 2011, his legacy lives on at Apple and in the tech industry as a whole. His vision and leadership helped to shape the world we live in today.
Return with the Elixir In the Hero’s Journey narrative, the hero returns from their journey with a valuable reward or elixir that benefits their community. In Jobs’ case, his elixir was the innovative products and technology that he created at Apple, which have transformed the way we live and work.
The iPod, iPhone, and iPad have all become integral parts of our daily lives, and they continue to be the foundation of Apple’s success.
Using the Hero’s Journey narrative, Jobs was able to create a powerful brand identity for Apple that resonated with consumers and inspired his team. He positioned Apple as the hero of the tech industry, fighting against impersonal and stagnant corporations to bring innovation and creativity to the world.
Jobs’ commitment to storytelling and brand identity was evident in his famous keynote presentations, where he would use powerful visuals and narratives to showcase Apple’s latest products.
He understood the importance of connecting with consumers on an emotional level, and his presentations were often as much about the story behind the product as the product itself.
“Every brand has a story, and it’s the job of the marketer to bring that story to life.”
– Scott Bedbury
Today, the Hero’s Journey narrative continues to be a powerful tool for storytelling in business environments. By using this narrative, leaders can inspire their teams, build a strong brand identity, and connect with consumers on a deeper level. It can also help to establish a sense of purpose and direction, which is essential for any organization looking to succeed in a competitive marketplace.
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We are a young, vibrant, and diverse executive career coaching group, with the operation registered in 2019, however, the formation was a 45-year career lifetime in preparation. During that period our founder Wayne Brown observed and worked with leaders of all levels in organizations across industries and cultures globally.
Based on that exposure, our company has intentionally set out to support those practicing the art and science of leadership – or as often referred to, “Executive Talent.” These are people who acknowledge that they are not experts. They are open to opportunities for continued growth and carry the desire for learning what is needed to become a success in today’s complexity and uncertainty.
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