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Humanizing Tech

The Hero’s Journey of Invention

Fountainhead News: Feb 6, 2017

If you’re familiar with Joseph Campbell and his Hero’s Journey framework, then you understand the cycle that must happen for the main character of any successful, human story.

As we expand that definition from a fictional story into your real life, then one thing becomes abundantly clear. At least, if you’ve been in this creation game for awhile.

The first part of your journey, as a hero, is to invent, remix, or create something new. What’s often the case for creators is that this part is almost so easy it’s laughable. The rest of the world may not see it that way, thinking that the creation is the hard part.

It’s not.

The hard part comes when you have to take that creation back to the masses. It’s the second half of the Hero’s Journey. First, you go through a self-discovery process, understand your mission and reason for being, often without you having any choice. You’re forced to act due to outside circumstances. Second, you must then self-sacrifice in order to “defeat” the villain and save the day, in this case being returning the treasure you’ve found to the rest of the world.

In the end, if you succeed, you gain spiritual power over both these universes. The one of creation, and the one of communication. You can use this treasure to the benefit of all mankind.

You can’t have a startup without either, nor a successful business without either. You have to make the product, then sell the product.

Most everyone talks about this journey in terms of a person. In the startup, it’s often the founders who are glorified, even more than the product.

The reality is it’s the product that goes through the journey. The iPhone was the thing that went through the journey. The actors like Ivy and Jobs were only outside forces that acted upon it. Various components from various suppliers, many different people all polishing their version of the ideal, lots of broken parts and false starts.

This is why it’s easy to tell a successful team from an unsuccessful one. The former focuses on the thing on the table in between them all, while the latter focuses on themselves and each other.

One is about product. The other is about ego.

To recreate something like Apple and the iPhone, but do it better, means every individual on that team needs to go through their own Hero’s Journey, while also lending a helping hand to the product to go through its Hero’s Journey.

To invent is only half the job. To return, with the technology of fire, stolen from the gods to give to mankind, is the more treacherous of the two.



The Hero’s Journey of Invention was originally published in Humanizing Tech on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

from Stories by Sean Everett on Medium http://ift.tt/2kjNm04