From myth and the first recorded stories in ancient history to present-day movie blockbusters, humans appear to be obsessed with the idea of the hero. The “hero’s journey” narrative pops up with many common elements, across cultures and across time. Most famously Carl Jung (and in later times Joseph Campbell) propounded the theory that this story actually lay deep within our psyche as part of a collective consciousness shared by all humans.
The instinctive desire to romanticise a hero and to feel like we need one to save us can be a powerful influence on our thinking and how we see the world around us. The seemingly endless Hollywood obsession with superheroes and various permutations of good versus bad capitalise on this ingrained need for this timeless compelling narrative.
But the need for a hero also arguably manifests itself in more insidious ways when we choose our political leaders. The recent growth of populism is fueled by the desire to believe in a strong and sage savior, proven in “battle”, overcoming adversity to make the radical change that is desperately needed.
However, this sometimes misleads us into seeking the hero that simply has the shiniest amour, or is the most irreverent, or who challenges the status quo. In truth, the hero’s story is about facing up to weakness, meeting challenges and authentically effecting change.
The financial services industry is facing a challenge in the form of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. People are looking for someone they can trust, and they desperately want to believe a hero can emerge.
There is a hero’s journey story to tell here. The path to real change and redemption is long, but the story of the journey contains a number of lessons for businesses about making big changes and making a better future for good.