Step 1 of the Hero’s Journey for Organizational Communication

Yesterday I wrote about the Hero’s Journey and how using this simple pattern can elevate your ordinary communication style to one that is more powerful and effective.

Joseph Campbell, the great philosopher and writer, identified the pattern:

A hero is called to leave his common everyday life to explore the wonders of the world.  Mystical forces are there encountered and a conclusive victory over an adversary is won. The hero returns from this mysterious adventure – forever changed and more powerful – and with this new power, understanding and wisdom — can (and does) bestow benefits and gifts upon his fellow man and the Universe is now a safer place. The End.

Step one of the pattern is The Call. The hero ventures forth into this new world after hearing a call to action.

Because, really, something had to start this whole story. Gandalf shows up at Frodo’s house looking for the ring. R2D2 shows up at Luke Skywalker’s ranch with a message that he accidently encounters.

There also is a sense of a resisting this call to action, as if you know the journey you are being called to is going to be hard. For instance, Frodo and the other Hobbits didn’t want to leave the shire. Luke Skywalker felt there was more but he couldn’t leave his aunt and uncle.

But, they all felt like there was something more. Frodo was given the ring and enticed by Gandalf. Or, in Luke’s case, his Aunt and Uncle were killed. In a business setting, it might look like the following.

In 1978 James Dyson, now founder of the Dyson vacuum cleaner company, noticed how the air filter in a spray finishing room was clogging with powder particles. So, he designed and built an industrial cyclone tower, which removed these particles by exerting centrifugal forces greater than 100,000 times those of gravity. And, he thought – could the same principle work in a vacuum cleaner? That was his call.

(Note: You can read this on their version of an “About Us” page. Brilliant communication move on their part.) 

Every story you want to tell in business had a beginning. What was wrong that you believed could be better? What idea did you have that could move the organization from point A to Point B? What did someone say when they brought this idea to the meeting? There are a myriad of ways stories start. But, they all have a call, a beginning.

Tomorrow I will write about part two of the Hero’s Journey for organizational storytelling: The Journey.

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