Startup Diaries: The Hero’s Journey Part I: Ordinary World

In a tribute to US mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell, who asserted that all mythical heroes experience the same 12 steps on their adventures, Ondina Montgomery draws parallels between Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and that of the entrepreneur.

Part I of the Hero's Journey describes the protagonist's Ordinary World before they embark on their adventure.

To start an adventure or not start a venture… that, for any budding CEO or entrepreneur, is the question!

Starting your own business is not for the faint hearted. The foolhardy: yes, impossible dreamers: yes, creative thinkers and people that think outside the box… yes, yes and yes! 

So if you are sitting there wondering what the hell you are doing with your life, you are not alone. If you feel you are getting older and your dreams are starting to fade, you are not alone. And if you wake up one morning and decide that you have had enough 'pretending' to realize your dream and want to actually do something about it…. You’re not alone either! And the good news is, you can do it!  But you also need some reality checks, because what we think we want at the beginning may not be what we get or need along the way. And likewise, if you don’t know where you’re going, you will end up somewhere else.

For me, my dream has always been design and textiles. Even though I avoided it for some time, satisfying my needs like travel, great food and theatre; they were never really my true passion, more like demi-passions that I toyed with. My ultimate destiny has always been to create and design textiles that ooze style.

I still find it amazing how many times I have seen an ad on television or gone shopping and saw an object on the shelf that I had imagined all by myself. 

I know I did!  How about you? Can you remember when you thought, “hey, wouldn’t itbe a great idea if I had a really neat wadget that I could hang my widget on so I didn’t have to scratch around the drawer trying to find the matching pair anymore”? Then one day like magic SHAZAM…there…right in front of you ….for only $39.99. How amazing is tha?t!! Just like a magic trick, only real.  It is spooky stuff. Think about it. Every time you imagine something, if you just wait around long enough, you will get it. Except for one niggling burning issue: it was your idea. You know it.The universe knows it. And now there it is, in arms reach. Hundreds of them! And that’s just in the store. You search your iPhone and it’s like an epidemic! They’re everywhere! So how did someone else get that great idea? And even more remarkable - what did they do to make it appear here in front of us? Did they have a Harvard degree? Did they have a rich benefactor? Were they a genius?

There are enough articles out there that show you don’t need a Harvard law degree; just look at Mr Microsoft and Mr Facebook. 

And you don’t need a rich benefactor either; take the time to read about Anita Roddick from the Body Shop. What's more, there are enough underpaid college professors out there to prove that geniuses don’t always become successful entrepreneurs.

So what is it? A secret sect like Scientology? An elixir in a bottle? And who the hell invented that potion anyway, surely it must be worth a fortune? Well the good news is that it’s none of the above and it’s free. The bad news is, not everybody has the same reaction; some are totally immune to its effects. Nada! Zero! Zilch! And even worse news is that there is no guarantee of success for those that do get a positive reaction from it.

When that call to adventure is so strong that you can't ignore it any longer, and you decide to finally leave your Ordinary World, the magic potion you need is called Commitment. 

You need to be committed. Not to the psychiatric ward (although for some that’s not a bad idea) but Committed with a capital C, like Goethe said in his classic poem Commitment. Read it carefully as there is a lot of truth and wisdom in this:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

Anybody who has started a business from their imagination, whether it has succeeded or failed, started from pretty much the same place. A vision that sounded amazing in their dreams. But to start and make it real is taking it to another level all together. The time, the thinking, the planning, the money, the financial strains, (did I mention the money?), the steep learning curve, and after all that, then begins the real sacrifices that must be made if we are going to have even a slight chance of success.

And remember, after all that there is still no guarantee of victory. And for some, the victory may not be financially rewarding. For some the true victory is the journey itself.

Whether you are a Hobbit or a would-be Jedi; when you truly have a call to adventure, that yearning to follow your dreams or start your own business and you make those first steps, it can feel a bit like Alice falling down that rabbit hole.

And in many ways that is exactly what happens to us when we leave our Ordinary World and step off into the abyss. Our worlds literally turn upside down as we commence what is known as The Hero’s Journey. 

To be continued...

Ondina Montgomery grew up in Denmark and has always been passionate about Art and Design. Raised by a family of artists including her creative grandmother and her artist father, a highly accomplished painter and sculptor, working with artists and designers comes naturally to her. Before living in South East Asia, she traveled the world extensively, eventually settling in Sydney in 2006. During her time in Australia, she started a design course and became involved in diverse design-related projects. After moving to Singapore in 2010 to expand her knowledge and her international client base, she obtained her Interior Design Diploma from Lasalle College of The Arts Singapore and then decided it was time she founded her own company. MAH was born! As the CEO and Curator of MAH she works with a broad range of artists, designers and photographers who share her interest and passion for scarves.

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