The Way of Heroes: Answering the Call to Adventure to Achieve Your Dreams

 “We can be Heroes.” — Heroes Lyrics by David Bowie and Brian Eno (1997)

Have you ever felt like you were meant for something more? Like there was a calling on your life that you were just waiting to answer? If so, you’re not alone. Many people feel this way, but they never take the first step to follow their dreams.

The Way of Heroes is a guide to help you decide on whether you want to take the call to adventure and live your legend.

For the heroes quest is for transformational leaders, entrepreneurs, those who strive to continually get better, and anyone with the desire to do something extraordinary.

by Murray Johannsen. Excerpt From: For a Change, Chapter Titled “On the Journey of Discovery,” Copyright © 2014, Revised 2023. Feel free to connect with the author by  Linkedin or by  email

Before You Can Be a Great Founder, You Must First Dare

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Act II Scene 5 of Twelfth Night. — William Shakespeare

Steve Jobs — Great Leader and Manager
Steve Jobs — A college drop-out who choose to achieve greatness.

If you want to be a manger, work for a corporation. If you want to do something great, be an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs who think like a manager will fail. For one thing, you can’t manage a team ‚ you lead a team. You can’t manage change, you learn and you adapt. You don’t manage risk, you face down fear. You won’t always succeed, you will also fail. You never fall back, you need to fall forward. You have to have the courage to DARE.

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If it is Difficult, But its Easier If You Learn To Act Like a Hero

You can create a life story you can be proud of. You won’t be a victim of FATE, but can create you own DESTINY.

Learn More — Dare To be Great

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. If you’re ready to start living your dreams, then The Way of Heroes is the place for you.

Check out how you can access the resources and support you need to succeed.

“Anyone can captain a ship in smooths seas. But it takes a great man to guide a ship through the storm.”   — Unknown

The Call To Adventure

Today’s modern heroes have to be those in the military and our first responders.

The call to adventure is the first step on the hero’s journey. It is the moment when the hero is presented with a challenge or opportunity that will change their life forever.

In many stories, the call to adventure is a literal one. For example, Luke Skywalker is called to adventure when he receives a message from Obi-Wan Kenobi, who tells him about the Force and the evil Empire.

However, the call to adventure can also be more metaphorical. For example, in the movie The Matrix, Neo is called to adventure when he sees strange things happening around him and begins to question his reality.

In the Middle Ages, at the beginning of a particularly hazardous journey, it would not be unusual for a traveler to seek the blessings of the divine. The more hazardous the road, the more important the blessing. And to receive the blessing, one would make a dedication. A knight setting out on a quest would dedicate himself to the overcome whatever difficulties one would encounter. Painting by: Edmund Blair Leighton (1853-1922), The Dedication.

No matter how it is presented, the call to adventure is always a moment of great change for the hero. It is the moment when they are forced to leave their ordinary life behind and step into the unknown.

The First Step is Often the Toughest

“How easy to do nothing—how hard to do anything.” — Sir Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister

Unknown Artist 15th Century. King Arthur’s knights gathered at the Round Table see a vision of the Holy Grail which is made of gold and decorated with jewels, held by two angels.

The first step is often the toughest. This is because it is the moment when the hero must decide whether or not they are willing to change their life.

For some heroes, the decision is easy. They are eager to leave their ordinary lives behind and embark on a new adventure.

For other heroes, the decision is much harder. They may be afraid of the unknown or they may be reluctant to leave their comfort zone.

But no matter how difficult the decision may be, the hero must ultimately choose whether or not to answer the call to adventure.

Frederic Leighton (1830–1896): Perseus On Pegasus Hastening To Rescue Andromeda

The Epic of Gilgamesh: The 1st Hero Story

The story of the hero is inherent in one of the earliest literary works that we know of, the Epic of Gilgamesh, which was written somewhere between 2750 and 2500 BCE. Image by: D. Gordon Robertson from the University of Sydney

The Epic of Gilgamesh is considered to be the first hero story. It was written in ancient Mesopotamia around 2750-2500 BCE. The story tells the tale of Gilgamesh, a king who is both powerful and flawed. Gilgamesh is a great warrior, but he is also arrogant and self-centered.

In this introduction to this epic, one hears about the essential nature of the Hero who is also King. It was said:

Take and read out from the lapis lazuli tablet how Gilgamesh went through every hardship. Supreme over other kings, lordly in appearance, he is the hero, born of Uruk, the goring wild bull. He walks out in front, the leader, and walks at the rear, trusted by his companions. Mighty net, protector of his people. From Tablet 1: Translated by Maureen Gallery Kovacs

One day, Gilgamesh is challenged by a wild bull. Gilgamesh defeats the bull, but he also causes the death of a young woman. This event causes Gilgamesh to have a change of heart. He realizes that he needs to find a way to become a better person.

Gilgamesh sets out on a journey to find the secret of immortality. Along the way, he meets many challenges, but he also learns a great deal about himself. In the end, Gilgamesh does not find immortality, but he does find a new sense of purpose and meaning in his life.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is a classic story of the hero’s journey. It is a story about the importance of self-discovery and the power of transformation. The story has been retold and reinterpreted many times throughout history, and it continues to inspire people today.

What are the qualities that make a hero in the Epic of Gilgamesh?

The hero in the Epic of Gilgamesh is a complex character. He is both powerful and flawed. However, there are some key qualities that make him a hero.

  • Strength: Gilgamesh is a great warrior. He is strong and brave, and he is not afraid to face challenges.
  • Wisdom: Gilgamesh is also wise. He learns from his mistakes, and he is always seeking to improve himself.
  • Compassion: Gilgamesh is compassionate. He cares about others, and he is always willing to help those in need.

How does Gilgamesh overcome the challenges he faces in the story?

Gilgamesh faces many challenges in the story. He must battle a wild bull, he must travel to the underworld, and he must face the challenges of his own inner demons. However, he overcomes these challenges through his strength, his wisdom, and his compassion.

Why is the Epic of Gilgamesh important in the history of the hero’s journey?

The Epic of Gilgamesh is important in the history of the hero’s journey because it is one of the earliest examples of this archetypal story. The story has been retold and reinterpreted many times throughout history, and it continues to inspire people today.

What are the qualities of a hero in today’s world?

The qualities of a hero in today’s world are similar to the qualities of a hero in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Heroes are strong, wise, and compassionate. They are also willing to face challenges and to help others.

The Hero in the Movies

Great movie trailers have great themes. One of these great themes is the hero. Watch this to see what they are. 

The hero’s journey is a popular theme in movies. It is a story about a character who goes on a journey of self-discovery and transformation. The hero faces many challenges along the way, but they ultimately emerge stronger and wiser.

There are many reasons why the hero’s journey is so popular in movies. First, it is a very relatable story. Everyone goes through challenges in their lives, and the hero’s journey shows us that we can overcome them. Second, the hero’s journey is a very exciting story. It is full of action, adventure, and suspense. Third, the hero’s journey is a very hopeful story. It shows us that we can achieve anything if we set our minds to it.

Some of the most famous hero movies include Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Titanic, The Matrix, and The Dark Knight. These movies all follow the basic structure of the hero’s journey. The hero is called to adventure, they face many challenges, they undergo a transformation, and they return home changed.

In many of these stories, the Hero evolves. We see:

  • Luke Skywalker going from farmer to a warrior by figuring out how to use the Force;
  • Green Lantern moving from a test pilot to Protector by unlocking the nature of will-power to overcome fear;
  • Aragorn transforming himelf from being a forest loner to the king in the J.R.R. Tolkien’s Return of the King; and
  • Rose (in Titanic) went from being pushed into a loveless marriage trapped in the prison of social class to a fulfilling, meaningful life.

Each challenge overcome unlocks resources to face even bigger challenges later. The nature of the journey makes one more resilient and surely more determined.

In fact, the largest money-making movies of all time (as of 2013) have been based on the quest of the Hero (see below).


U.S. Sales

Non-American Sales


Avatar (2009)

$ 760

$ 2021

$ 2781

Titanic (1997)

$ 658

$ 1526

$ 2185

The Avengers (2012)




Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

$ 381

$ 960

$ 1341

Iron Man 3 (2013)




The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

$ 377

$ 752

$ 1129

Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon (2011)

$ 350

$ 762

$ 1113

Source: World Box Office, Data Extracted during Dec of 2013

In fact, the the hero’s of in Marvel pantheon have done very well at the box office world-wide. According to the Visual Capitalist, ten movies have gone over one billion dollars.

It must be said, that there is often a struggle — one that occurs inside the mind. It’s a silent struggle to overcome fear. One might say that if you cannot overcome fear, the call to adventure is not undertaken.

Of the three movies in the Dark Night series by Christopher Nolan, the first one, Batman Begins, and the last one, the Dark Knight Rises especially have to overcome fear as an underlying theme. Batman would not have been possible without Bruce Wayne becoming both fearless and courageous. Source of Image: Wikipedia

“The difficult problems in life always start off being simple. Great affairs always start off being small.”― Lao Tzu

The way of the hero is an important part of our culture. It is a story that we can all relate to, and it gives us hope that we can overcome our own challenges. Movies help us to understand the hero’s journey, and they can inspire us to go on our own journeys of self-discovery and transformation

Path 1: To Seek The Devine

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men are full of doubts.” ― Bertrand Russell

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898): Painting of Saint Itta

The divine journey,  the path to the sacred, doesn’t involve getting rich at all — it often means forgoing the BMW for a simpler lifestyle. But for those who travel this path, it is no less difficult than the other ones.

The divine journey is a path of self-discovery and transformation. It is a journey that leads us to the sacred, to a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

There are many different ways to embark on a divine journey. Some people may choose to meditate or pray, while others may choose to spend time in nature or art. There is no right or wrong way to do it, as long as you are open to the experience.

The divine journey is a gift. It is an opportunity to connect with something larger than ourselves, to find meaning and purpose in our lives not in the secular, but in the spiritual.

Campbells Model

One person who has written extensively on this subject is Joseph Campbell. He has written many books on myth and one focused on the hero’s journey called: The Hero of Thousand Faces (Campbell, 2008).

The Journey is a mythic pattern, one that has been with us throughout the ages. A mythic or archetypical pattern is something that keeps getting repeated (with slight variations). Not only do these patterns get repeated in individuals, but they can be seen in large groups as well.

Source: Wikipedia

According to Joseph Campbell, a divine journey has three major phases:

  1. Departure: This is the phase where the hero or heroine is called to adventure. They may receive a message from a wise person or have a dream or vision.
  2. Initiation: This is the phase where the hero or heroine faces many challenges and obstacles. They may have to overcome their fears, learn new skills, or make difficult choices.
  3. Return: This is the phase where the hero or heroine returns home with new knowledge and wisdom. They may have changed in some way, and they may be able to help others on their own journeys.

This is the evolution of a normal person in the secular world into the divine as a mystic or Bodhisattva.

Route 2: The Treasure Hunt

Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory (French, active 1756-present). ‘Oviform Vase,’ ca. 1780. soft-paste porcelain. Walters Art Museum (48.562): Acquired by Henry Walters, 1928.

It seems that almost all individuals or corporations are obsessed with accumulating wealth. Some make it, most do not. Still, the search for riches has constantly occurred throughout history.

There were always cities of gold such as El Dorado and Shangra-la just beyond the next mountain range. The Spanish conquistadors such as Cortez (who conquered the Aztecs), and Pizarro (who conquered the Incas) had in mind glory, riches unimaginable, and a title from the crown. 

Map of Treasure Island, by Robert Lewis Stevenson, from the first German edition, published in 1863

The treasure hunt has been a consistent story in the great works of literature and now in the movies. Ali Baba found a cave full of precious minerals and jewels stolen by thieves in a Thousand and One Nights. In the movies, the treasure hunt was taken up by Lara Croft and Indiana Jones. And the Hobbit is a story about reclaiming immense treasure guarded by a dragon.

It is a common path. Each year it seems, there are more billionaires. The worth of a man or woman is measuring by the size of their net worth. It is assumed that the American Dream is now the pursuit of riches — to the exclusion of other forms of achievement.

Where does the call come from? It primarily comes from the media. But more than that, it comes from the business schools that enable the expertise to accumulate wealth. And of course, it comes from the corporation which lives in a legal environment that assume the primary purpose of a public corporation is “profit maximization.”

Today, hunting for treasure commonly involves getting the right degree from the right university. Or getting to the c-level to unlock a large corporate war chest that contains not gold, rubies, and sapphires; but stock options, deferred compensation, and golden parachutes. In some countries, it is a position in government that causes the gold to flow. But pandering to one’s greed is ultimately not a wise thing to do and can prevent other types of journeys.

The Dangers of the Treasure Hunt

The treasure hunt can be a dangerous path. It can lead to greed, corruption, and even violence. If you are not careful, you can lose everything you have worked for.

It is important to remember that the treasure hunt is not the only path to success. There are many other paths that you can take, such as the path of the divine journey or the path of service to others.

If you are considering going on a treasure hunt, I encourage you to think carefully about the risks involved. It is important to make sure that you are not motivated by greed, and that you are willing to help others along the way.

Track 3: The Journey of Discovery

There is another type of Heroes Way — The Journey of Discovery.

The journey of discovery is not easy. There will be times when you face doubt, fear, or opposition. For example, you may face challenges from your family or friends who do not understand your journey. You may also face challenges from your own mind, such as self-doubt or fear of failure.

But if you are persistent and open-minded, you can overcome these challenges and learn a great deal about yourself and the world around you.

Jules Bastien-Lepage (1879): Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc). In this picture, Joan is agonizing over whether she should follow the advice of her voices; voices urging her to start the difficult journey to preserve French independence.

The internal Struggle of Joan of Arc

One of the most dramatic calls to adventure was the internal struggle Joan went through before she left her home in Domrémy, France to save France from the British. According to Joan herself, she experienced her first vision at the age of 12 years, when she saw figures she identified as Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret who told her to drive out the English and bring the Dauphin to Reims for his coronation. She said she cried when they left, as they were so beautiful.

Not only did the Saints trigger the journey, but they continued to advise her throughout the rest of her life. Ironic don’t you think, that one of the greatest figures of history would today be diagnosed as a schizophrenic who would be medicated and hospitalized until the voices went away.

The journey of discovery is a valuable experience. It can help us to find our purpose in life, to connect with others, and to make a difference in the world.

When we go on a journey of discovery, we learn more about ourselves and our place in the world. We learn about our strengths and weaknesses, our values and beliefs, and our dreams and goals.

We also learn about the world around us. We learn about different cultures, different perspectives, and different ways of life.

The Importance of the Journey of Discovery

No, the jewels here involve ways to better use your mind, the joy of finding hidden strengths, and the satisfaction of decreasing your weaknesses, and the wonder of achieving mastery.

The journey of discovery can help us to find our purpose in life. When we know ourselves better, we can better understand what we want to achieve in life. We can also better understand how we can contribute to the world.

When we go on a journey of discovery, we learn more about ourselves and our place in the world. We learn about our strengths and weaknesses, our values and beliefs, and our dreams and goals.

We also learn about the world around us. We learn about different cultures, different perspectives, and different ways of life.

It can help us to find our purpose in life. When we know ourselves better, we can better understand what we want to achieve in life. We can also better understand how we can contribute to the world.

Two Examples Discovery Leading To Healing

An inspiring story of a person who suffered from hearing voices (Dissociative Identity Disorder), but then figures out a way to live with it.

In both cases, they stopped acting like victims, helpless to resist the advice of authority figures and decided to take charge of their life.

Another person gets depressed and then wants to know why this occurred. View Video by Andrew Solomon: Depression: The Secret We Share

Getting Through the Trials and Tribulations 

“Doing anything out of the ordinary is bound to be difficult.” — Murray Johannsen

Joseph Wright of Derby (1734–1797): Alchemist Seeking The Philosopher’s Stone

A MAN was driving a wagon along a country lane when the wheels sank deep into a rut.  The rustic driver, stupefied and aghast, stood looking at the wagon and did nothing but utter loud cries to Hercules to come and help him.  Hercules, it is said, appeared and thus addressed him, “Put your shoulders to the wheels, my man.  Goad on your bullocks, and never more pray to me for help, until you have done your best to help yourself, or depend upon it you will henceforth pray in vain.” —  Hercules and the Wagoner, Aesop’s Fables

The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks, or problems that we must overcome. Some of these challenges exist within ourselves, while others are environmentally based. But each “life test” successfully passed, makes you stronger, more self-confident, more resourceful.

Still, you will likely fail one or more of these tests. Failure doesn’t matter, what matters is what happens after you fail. Too many just give up. They lack the mental processes associated with the mental toughness to continue.

Road 4: The Call to Adventure

“The difficult problems in life always start off being simple. Great affairs always start off being small.” ― Lao Tzu

Unlike the treasure hunt, it’s not about finding gold, diamonds, rubies, or sapphires. The focus is to do something great.

It could be about a higher cause — such as service to a country. After all, no one seems willing to die for the corporation.

Joan of Arc at the Coronation of Charles VII. Painting by Dominique Ingres. Painted in 1854.

Above, we see one outcome of her Quest. Her actions directly contributed to the Siege of Orleans, the turning point, the fulcrum for the French to rally and stay independent towards the end of the Hundred Years War. And she became a Saint of the Catholic Church.

For Joan, the adventure was not about money. In her case, it was her vision to save France from England. A mission achieved when she led an army to relieve the siege of Orlean.

It could be about “personal best.” And personal best is measured about some type of accomplishment. One sees this in Guinness Book of Records. One surely needs talent, but it is talent honed by hundreds or even thousands of hours of practice.

USA Today (2023). Watch 21-year-old solve Rubik’s Cube in astonishing 3.13 seconds, setting new world record

The Quest Achieved

“Veni, Vidi, Vinci.” (I came, I saw, I conquered.) Julius Caesar, 100-44 B.C., Quoted from Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars

In the case of the entrepreneur, the end of the vision has to do with the development of a sustainable organization that can keep on running without the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur evolves as well and could become a Great Founder.

From a psychological standpoint, this means that three major archetypes are fully developed: the hero, the wise man/woman, and the king/queen.

The treasure hunt involves material wealth. But of course, once one gets it, one still have to figure out what to do with it.

Finally, the path of the Devine offers a fundamental transformation for the secular world to the spiritual one.

Site Resources


Aesop’s Fables (N.D.), Project Gutenberg.

Campbell, Joseph (2008). The Hero of a Thousand Faces, Third Edition. New World Library.

For More Readings on The Hero. This series of short articles from public television is an overview of some aspects of the quest and lists some of the classic heroes such as Jason, Joan of Arc, and Hercules.

Goins, Jeff (N.D.) Heroes and Their Tragic Flaws: Achilles to Bethany Hilton.

Kovacs, Maureen (N.D.) Athenaeum Library of Philosophy. The Epic of Gilgamesh.

World Box Office Site,

Wikipedia, Monomyth, Data Extracted during Dec of 2013

Updated June 27, 2023

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