the hero’s journey

We all need heroes. I was eight years old. The heroes I saw on a black and white TV rode a horse, had a gun slung on their belt and rescued a beautiful woman from savage Indians. He had skills and seemed invincible.
And, as the skinniest and smallest kid in my class, I wanted to be like him. He was tall, handsome and strong. I dreamed of rescuing a damsel (that beautiful red-haired girl in my class that I was too shy to talk with) from peril.

Today, I think of heroes a little differently.

Many of you are probably familiar with the hero’s journey. Ancient Greek mythology, the life of Jesus, Shakespeare, novels and our favorite films all have the hero’s journey storyline in common. In the narrative, there is a character that is our hero. Our hero faces a challenge or enemy to overcome (this can be internal or external), and someone to rescue. There is a battle to win. The conflict becomes increasingly difficult with no way out. Then, there is that almost miraculous turning point. The battle isn’t instantly won, but our hero has found a way to keep fighting. And, as we cheer him on, we applaud when our hero defeats his enemy and rescues those he must protect.

I share the idea of the hero’s journey and its story arch with my nonprofit friends who are seeking to tell their story to others.

For most of these nonprofits, they serve others who are caught in a personal battle. Many people who struggle find their life spiraling downward. They are in a vortex of pain and can’t find a way out. They need that miraculous moment when someone reaches out with a loving hand. Together, with straining effort, the person in struggle comes closer to the way out. And we cheer, clap, and cry tears of joy when each person reaches their personal life victory.

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