When we hear the phrase, “call to adventure” – we think of Alice falling down the rabbit hole, of Odysseus embarking on a ship, of Luke Skywalker receiving Princess Leia’s call for help in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. They all had the nerve to follow the white rabbit, and just fall down the rabbit hole of endless possibilities. Joseph Campbell talked about the Mono-Myth concept in his epic book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, describing that every single major story or myth follows a very similar timeline. The book stands as a powerful guide for YOU if you ever feel lost inside your own odyssey of life. You might have some expertise in an item, you might be a great stockbroker or you might be a good soldier. There’s just a level where you’re living at your status quo and things are good or things are kind of bad but not horrible. It’s just sort of that middle status quo. Then you have the call to adventure. You have the opportunity to take the next step into your life. Time to become the hero in your own story!
I’m very glad to present, Your Hero’s Journey, which is a solo show with me talking about the concept of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, my own personal journey, and basically helping any little sanity to where you are. Maybe you’re in hell, maybe you’re not sure what to do and this is normal. This is all part of your hero’s journey. If you like more shows, please visit RobertKandell.com.
Listen to the podcast here:
Your Hero’s Journey
I’m excited to talk about this concept which I call The Hero’s Journey, which is an interesting one for me because I’ve applied this concept not only to my own personal life, but also to coaching. I used it three or four times with male coachees of mine. This tends to be on the more male side than female side, which is a little different from most of my other shows, but hopefully all of us will gather a little information from it.
This one is based on a book by a name a man named Joseph Campbell. It’s a book called The Hero with a Thousand Faces. It was first published in 1949, which is pretty epic. George Lucas made this book brought a little more to the limelight because he said he based a lot of the Star Wars characters, Luke Skywalker, in particular with the concept in the book and the book was republished and brought out into the limelight again in 2008. It’s had this long history and held the test of time, which is pretty amazing compared to other books of The Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell in the book described something called the monomyth.
The monomyth is the common theme that he’s found in so many myths and concepts throughout history in different cultures. He looked at the Buddha, he looked at Greek mythology, he looked at all these different aspects. In each great culture, there were these twelve steps that a hero goes through commonly in the story, which I thought was pretty amazing when you think about the diversity of different cultures and how you can apply it to your own.
I’m going to give you the twelve steps and then I’m going to talk about the first few of them. I don’t want to go through all twelve steps, but I want to see the possibility of how you can take these concepts and then you bring them into the forefront. The first step is called the ordinary world. In that world, it’s the time where it’s your status quo. It’s where you’re living your life, good or bad or neutral. You might have some expertise in an item, you might be a great stockbroker or you might be a good soldier. There’s a level where you’re living at your status quo and things are good or things are bad but not horrible. It’s just that middle status quo. Then what happens is you have the call to adventure. You have the opportunity to take the next step into your life. For Luke Skywalker of Star Wars, it’s when he received a message from Princess Leia saying, “Help us Obi-Wan,” or it’s Thomas Anderson in the Matrix when he’s living his regular life and all of a sudden, he gets the opportunity to follow the white rabbit. It’s Alice falling down the rabbit hole. All these are the call to adventure.
I think of all the twelve steps in the hero’s journey. This is one of the most important, and I’m going to dwell on this a little bit because this is where I’m at in my own personal life. I’ve had these calls to adventure many times throughout my history because before when I was a normal person back in the day when I was a yuppie, climbing up the corporate ladder, when I had a house in San Francisco, when things were good, I then had the call to adventure to get out of my status quo, to get out of that place where everything was normal and to take the next step. For me, that was taking my first class on sexuality and making a total fool of myself and saying like, “Do you know your wife’s crying when she’s sitting right there?” It was that single moment and sometimes those moments are overt, like me making a total fool of myself and other times, they’re quiet and there’re these subtle ways that the world is calling us to get out of our status quo, into a deeper adventure of what’s possible.
I feel grateful for that moment and I feel grateful. Another one happened when I was ten years into OneTaste and even though my health was declining, I wasn’t happy, I was stuck in the rut of, “I’m going to spend the rest of my life doing this” until one action, me being moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco for the 150th time in a year and then being in this dark night of the soul night when I decided, “I don’t want to live the rest of my life like this.” That subtle quiet voice that says “There’s a better way of doing this, Rob.” There’s a better way where I could live more authentically in myself and to listen to that adventure. This is the point of the show.
We all live in a form of status quo and for some of us, that status quo was great and if you want to go on the hero’s journey, which is totally optional, you have to attune your listening to the call to adventure. You have to be available to it. You have to be open to it. You have to be willing to say, “There’s something more I want,” and that deep honesty inside yourself to say, “I’m going to go on a hero’s journey.”
A Joseph Campbell quote said, “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: The hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” In the modern days, it’s fellow people. Joseph, don’t be a sexist, but it’s bestow the boons on his fellow man. For some of us, those boons are simple ideas and concepts and they’re reading a great book that changes your viewpoints on my learning about emotional intelligence, reading some mystic book that Morgan pulls off around native Americans or aliens or all these crazy things and wondrous things, and she brings back the boons of the details of it to me, and I get to revel in her stoic and beautiful inquiry into what it means to live and adds to my life. She bestows the boons of her learning onto me, which I’m totally grateful for.
The call to adventure is an important piece and most of us are dying for some change, dying for some uplevel in our lives, but because we won’t truly listen or acknowledge or hear or confront the call to adventure, we miss it. It’s like that bus or the train or the plane leaving, the ticket that arrives in the mail, the white rabbit that shows up in our doorstep but we don’t listen and we live the rest of our lives not hearing it. The third step of the monomyth is the refusal of the call. In all my studies, I went deep into this because when you get the call to adventure, the concept in the book is that if you have the call to adventure that produces so much energy, the refusal of the call produces the same amount of energy, but in a negative connotation to it. In Star Wars, it was when Luke was reluctant to accept Obi-Wan’s offer. The scene where he says, “No, I can never leave this world because I have to farm and be this role.” Harry doesn’t believe that he can be a real wizard in Harry Potter. Neo talks to Trinity at the club, but isn’t sure if it’s a dream. He won’t accept.
It’s the refusal of the call, it’s the non‑confrontation of what’s possible, and in that we stay not only in our status quo, but we stay deep in knowing that we said no to the opportunity to expand ourselves. I’m sure the audience has some version of this, has some belief system or some part of ourselves that we didn’t take our friend up on the offer for that great adventure. We didn’t take the time to go to school or apply yourself at school. There was that person that we wanted to date and we wanted to ask them and we didn’t do it because we were afraid of rejection. The refusal of the call is when we know there’s a possibility for the next grade uplevel in our lives and we say no out of fear. We have these all the time and again, and so just noticing who you are in the hero’s adventure, in the hero’s journey, and how you can be ready for it and expanding for it.
If you say yes, and I did say yes, the next stage is called meeting of the mentor. What this is is the universe provides the guide to take you from the next level. The person shows up with the experience and that mentor isn’t always the most attractive person. It’s not always like they’re the cleanest and they looked the best. In Harry Potter, there’s Hagrid taking him to Diagon Alley where Harry purchases his school equipment, or Obi-Wan Kenobi gives him the light saber for first time and offers him the opportunity of how to be it. It’s the mentor sometimes grizzly or Yoda that is this little Muppet of a thing that looks small and he was like, “This is my mentor? This is the person who’s going to be showing me to the next level?”
In my journey, my first mentor was a guy named Erwan and he was an asshole. He was not a nice person and he kicked my ass royally in that first class where I embarrassed myself and he was my mentor. He was the first guy to start to tell me the truth of what he saw. He offered me the alternative viewpoints of what was possible. Our mentors are not always what we want our mentors to look like. It’s a teacher that doesn’t quite fit with our idea of it, but that mentor, the one the universe provided, is the one to uplevel. It’s a chance for you to stop being so stubborn of who you think it should look like and who you should be and allow yourself to evolve.
I’m going to run through some of the next phases. The crossing of the first threshold is basically when you step into the adventure, you’re going back to school, you’re going on that first date, you take on a new therapist, you go to the next class. It’s the letting go of where you were into the next phase of your evolution. It’s when Luke accompanies Obi-Wan on the Millennium Falcon and goes to the next thing. It’s the crossing over.
The next phase is called test, allies, and enemies where you’re going and you’re hitting obstacles when things could look dire. There’re all these different stages; approach to innermost cave, the ordeal, the reward, the road back, the coming back of who it is, and then you return with the elixir, you return with the boon to give to your fellow men. The hero’s journey is one of different stages and if you read this book, which is quite honestly not the easiest book to read. There’s an element of challenge inside this book, but the book is detail after detail so you can start to apply to yourself the different aspects of the hero’s journey so you can find yourself along it.
Let’s bring this back into more of a personal aspect, and I’ll use myself as always as the test crash dummy of the experience of my own hero’s journey. I’ve gone over them time and time again. For first, it was the building of OneTaste and the whole experience. Then it was leaving OneTaste and then it was starting my own personal practice, and then it was starting LA Mother, the epic failure of business in my life. Then it’s been writing this book and that’s the piece of the puzzle I want to close this rant with.
It is the journey of writing unHidden, and I had the whole epic adventure in terms of this process of writing a book. I was working well as a business consultant, a life coach. I was building up my business, everything was fine and then the call to adventure came through Morgan’s mouth, “It’s time to write the book, Rob,” and I was like, “I don’t want to write a book.” There was the refusal of it and the denial of that, and she was like, “No, I think you want to write this book,” and I was like, “Okay.” Then there was a moment of clarity where I said like, “I need to write this book.” Since then I’ve had these trials and tribulations of wanting to quit this book about 10,000 times in the process knowing underneath it that this was my epic adventure, this was the hero’s journey to get me from my old status quo to my next level. In the process of writing the book, I’ve seen some significant changes of who I am personally, but also how I’m interacting with the world.
Reading other books to support the book has changed my viewpoint. The End of Men by Hanna Rosin has had significant input on me, Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix, me reading that has been huge. A book called Deep Work on how to focus my attention. All these different books in there have pushed me and pushed me to keep getting better and better. I found myself in my relationship with Morgan changing through the knowledge of the book and the conversations we’ve had sparked with the concepts of it.
There’s still fear. There’s still deep, intimate, crazy fear because that book is coming out on November 5th and I still have the viewpoint or the fear that I’m going to get seventeen people to buy this book even though I’ve sold 250, which doesn’t quite make sense, seventeen more than the 250 I presold in the Indiegogo campaign. It’s going to be that thing where no one’s going to care and the rejection I’m going to feel and the shrinking of my ego, the emasculation of my male genitalia, because no one will like this book, the shrinking of my soul, and at the same time I have to keep coming back because I’m not writing it for the results. I’m not writing it to be cool or to be liked. I’m writing it because this is my hero’s journey and this is what I have had the opportunity to bring back the boons to my fellow man and women and all the other genders.
In that experience, the growth of who I am and the evolution of who I am, it’s been epic. It’s already been epic. I have a writing coach. I call her my book mistress because I wanted to get my ass kicked in this process. I overtly gave her the title of mistress in the dominatrix way where she had the riding crop, she had the flogger, she has all the tools to kick my ass. I was on a call with her and I did a chapter on the second draft. She’s telling me things about my writing and in my head I’m just like, “I know what the fuck I’m writing. Who are you to tell me how to make this book better?” but the comments she makes and her viewpoint and her vision and her reflection is making the book better and better, and so she’s my mentor. I have hired her as my mentor, my guide in this experience because I know I could write this book in isolation but having the experience of having someone reflect and to have that guide is going to make this book better and better. I felt grateful to her for taking on the role, but grateful to myself because I said to myself, “I need help. I know I can’t do this by myself.” It’s in the connection with others this book gets better.
For all of you thinking about your next evolution, thinking about what you want to do next, this next aspect of your journey, it’s scary. It’s scary for me and it’s scary for you, but I can tell you that it’s worth it because mediocrity sucks. Let’s get down to it. Having the same Groundhog Day, thing after thing, don’t you get sick of your own self-imposed limitations? Aren’t you like, “I am so annoyed with my deep resistance to go into the uncomfortable spot of expanding who I am?” This could be in your job, this could be in your relationship, this could be in your physical health, this could be in your education, take that next step, go to the gym and hire a trainer. Having a guy kick my ass twice a week has changed my physicality so deeply, taking the time to speak to Morgan about the truths and the ideas I have in my soul to say some uncomfortable things and have her stay with me and stay connected, it’s made life so much more exciting, to hire people to say, “Rob, this book’s important and you’re doing it right,” has encouraged me.
I am no different from you. I’m not better or worse. I’m a fellow traveler in this world. I have the chutzpah, the guts, to say, “I’m going to lay it all out in the line and have the life I want because I believe that mediocrity sucks.” My plea at the end of this rant is simply if you’re annoyed with your status quo, take one step forward out of you mediocrity. You can look up the concept of the hero’s journey if you don’t want to read the book, though I highly recommend it. Take the time to look at what you want in the next evolution of your life and have it because you’re worth it. If you don’t believe that you’re worth it, then no one else is going to. Start with yourself. Go forth, be merry, tell your friends, engage. If I can ever be of service, please contact me. You can find me at RobertKandell.com.
Thank you so much for listening to your hero’s journey with me Rob Kandell, your host, the one who loves you deeply, even though we probably never met. I’m rooting for you out there on the world on your hero’s journey so you can find bliss, happiness, purpose, etc. For more shows, just sign up for my mailing list, new cool stuff. Please visit RobertKandell.com. Thank you so much. Have a wonderful day and we’ll talk to you soon.