The monomyth begins with the main character, or Hero, in one place, and ends with him in another — both physically and emotionally. Campbell asserts that this Hero is the same regardless of the story, and that he appears in different forms. This is important because the hero can be the star quarterback or he can be the accountant in cubicle nine. The paths are different but the journey is the same... But Campbell’s thesis is not simply that nearly every culture in history has found an identical and effective way to tell stories; it’s that the commonalities in storytelling exist because they are a fundamental part of the human experience. The monomyth isn’t only the structure of how we tell the undertakings of heroes and characters in stories, it’s also how we relate those stories to ourselves, and, in a very real way, how we understand the things that are happening to us.
I would take it a step further.
I believe that while the monomyth is exceptional for storytelling, and therefore exceptional for exploring cultural ideas, it can have just as great an impact when applied to an individual — when applied to you. Put somewhat more directly, the Hero’s Journey is the perfect lens through which to view any change in your life — whatever new journey you’re taking, you will go through all of the phases of the monomyth as you grow, adapt, and ultimately fulfill your goal.
Of course, I’m not the only one who suggests this. For years, the Campbellian model has been used by people in various fields to help people advance; for example, some therapists use it with their patients to help structure psychoanalysis. Similarly, it’s used to help people deal with the grieving process — after all, the 5 stages are grief each have their mirror in the monomyth. Still others use it for mindset or success coaching — helping people understand where they are in the journey not only provides a sense of comfort and control, but also a clear path, making it easier, conceptually, to get to the next phase.
Because all changes in your life can fit into this structure, whether you realize it or not, at any given time you’re going through at least one such journey — and mastering the ideology of the monomyth will make you more successful. Because not only is the Hero’s Journey a lens for viewing change, but it’s also an excellent operating thesis for propelling change forward.