Which is your story? Cinderella or the Heroes Journey?
Our lives are shaped by stories. Stories about how we should live. The type of people we should become. But the stories that motivate us most, are often stories about how success happens. There are two important stories that set us up for either success or failure in both our personal and working lives.
Which is your story?
1. Cinderella or the ‘make over’ story.
In Cinderella we have a good person, who struggles on a daily basis. Life has not been kind to her. She is stuck in a life of drudgery. A life devoid of opportunity. The people close to her neither encourage nor support her. Rather, they demean her as they fill her days with unsatisfying work. Although she has big dreams, Cindarella’s life never changes. Everyday she sweeps the floor. Everyday, she does what the people she neither respects nor loves, tell her to do.
"Fortune crowns the bold before the worthy.”
Agona Apell, The Success Genome Unravelled: Turning Men from Rot to Rock
She never tries to improve her situation or herself. She doesn’t study. She doesn’t go out and meet other people or try to find another job. She doesn’t leave the home she hates. She sees herself as a victim of her evil step sisters and step mother, who unlike Cindarella, go out and make things happen for themselves. The step sisters and mother’s assertive way, the story tells us, is not what good people like Cinderella should try to emulate.
Our Cinderella waits and waits. She waits for someone from outside of her world to be a fairy godmother to her. To give her a makeover, so that important others will recognise how beautiful and wonderful she actually is.
And this is where the fairy story comes into play. Unlike in the real world, a fairy god mother actually appears in our story. With all the millions of good people in the world, the fairy god mother chooses our Cinderella to help. In an instant, with no effort at all on Cindarella’s part, the fairy godmother gives Cindarella a makeover. She is dressed in fine clothes and transported in a golden carriage to a ball, where the most powerful person in the land, no less than a prince, notices her, and falls in love with her instantly. He doesn’t even know her, but that doesn’t stop him from loving her.
Then, when the magical spell wears off, Cinderella runs back to the home she hates. Leaving no contact details, and only a shoe as a clue, she makes it extremely difficult for the prince to find her. Once again she waits passively. And once again, it is only because of the energy and commitment of the prince, that he finds her, and transforms her life forever.
And so, like in all good fairy stories, they lived happily ever after.
In the heroes journey, we have an ordinary person, living an ordinary life in an ordinary world.
One day, our everyday hero, is presented with a extraordinary challenge. It may be he wants to claim a rare treasure in a strange land. Or maybe there is some kind of monster, threatening his own life, his community or the world at large.
Even though achieving the goal is beyond his current capabilities, he has to personally accept the challenge. He must go on a quest to fight a monster, or find a treasure. He must do this through his own efforts. No one else can do it for him.
The challenge he is given, requires him to to leave the world he knows and go into a world that is unlike anywhere he has ever been. Even though he is scared, he takes up the challenge.
He moves out of his comfort zone, into a whole new world. He discovers that the people he expected to support him on his adventure, don’t. Some actively work against him. He also discovers that the people he didn’t expect to get help from, become his biggest allies. As he progresses on his journey, he makes many new friends. He fights many enemies. He learns who he can and can’t trust. He confronts some ugly monsters - the biggest of whom are his own fears.
The journey is a long one. Far longer than he ever imagined. Along the way, he has to call on his courage, and resilience over and over again. He has to persevere in spite of obstacles and difficulties too numerous to mention. What is magical though, is that when things get too much for him, and he wants to quit, someone encourages him to continue, reminding him about what is at stake. Whenever things get too difficult, he meets a new guide, or mentor, who shows him how to tackle the next leg on his journey.
Each challenge that he tackles successfully, prepares him for the next greater challenge he will face. And with each challenge he overcomes, he becomes stronger, more skilled, and more powerful.
Finally he completes his quest. He defeats the enemy. He finds the treasure. He returns home a hero. He has saved his community or the world. He brings back a treasure that will help his people.
Nothing that is given to you by fortune or others, lasts.
But the seeds of all success - courage, discipline, skill, experience and confidence, can never be taken away from you.
But that is only half of the story. Because what no one tells us that that the biggest treasure our hero discovers on his journey, is his own personal power. Our hero has had so many experiences, fought so many battles, and faced his deepest fears. He has kept to his quest, and persevered in spite of obstacles. He has kept going, where others would have given up. And so he has achieved what everyone thought was impossible.
So now our hero now has the confidence and the power to tackle any challenge anytime. This is something no one can ever take away from him.
So which story is the story that guides your life?