Are legendary stories true accounts of epic adventures? Or are they just fables made up to entertain an eager audience as they wile away the long dark nights.
Perhaps they are a bit of both. Perhaps the stories being told are, in fact, rooted in a truth but over the years, and hundreds of enthusiastic story tellers, the adventures become legendary.
There are four key elements in a legend. Of course there are many more but without these four, all we have is an accounting of a situation or a rendering of history. Let’s look at this quartet of circumstances that enable, what might have been just an ordinary adventure story, to rise up to the stuff of legends.
Every legend has challenge as the major theme. Sometimes it’s one epic challenge such as the story of David and Goliath where David is tasked with slaying the giant Goliath and in other legends, there are a series of challenges to overcome as in the stories of Hercules. He had to accomplish twelve heroic labors to be absolved of his guilt for murdering his wife and two children while under a spell from Hera, Zeus’ vengeful wife.
Challenge is the catalyst for action. It is the compelling reason to start this particular journey. With out a challenge, there would be no motivation to begin the adventure. It usually appears as an outside instigation. Something that is not of ones choice and so it tends to be, at the beginning at any rate, an impossibility. The more impossible the task, the bigger the legend.
Every legend needs a hero. Someone to take up the challenge against unsurmountable odds and venture forth in search of a resolution. The larger the incongruency between the challenge and the hero’s abilities, the greater the possibility for an epic tale.
We all the love the underdog who uses only his wits to defeat his foe. Perhaps, on some level we identify with the seemingly unprepared hero who steps ups regardless of enormous fear and lack of confidence – but tries anyway.
Whether it’s treasure, social status, immortality, or peace for the village, there has to be a prize at the end of all the trials and tribulations our hero will need to endure. Every potential hero needs some sort of enticement to leave their safe, comfy home and venture out into the unknown to face some untold danger or evil.
Some unattainable dream, a boon granted, or a vast trove of gold and jewels that is now within the hero’s grasp and there for the taking, if only he can defeat the horrendous monster terrorizing the land, or rescue the fair lady kidnapped from the evil king of a neighboring land. The reward must be worthy of the challenge because while the hero may be fearful, he is no fool.
The wise advisor
Of course in the case of David, he had God advising him. That’s pretty big wisdom on his side, in my opinion. Even Hercules, turned to the Greek God, Apollo who gave him the 12 labors that would absolve him of his sins and make him immortal, but other hero’s have had wise advisors as support and counsel as well.
No hero goes it alone; Arthur of Camelot had Merlin, the Viking legend Beowulf’s mentor was King Hrothgar, Cleopatra’s trusted advisor was her servant, Charmion, even the Karate Kid had Mr. Miyagi. The wise advisor’s job in any legend is to offer clarity, boost the hero’s confidence and sooth their ego when they fail.
Now let’s look at your life. Not very legendary? Well that’s not because there are no challenges for you to face.
We all have within us the hero gene. It shows itself when we are frustrated with a situation that has gone on for too long. It sparks when we see injustice. It motivates us to become something more than what we are in this moment. The key though, is to take on the actions that are required to see the challenge through regardless of fear, or lack of confidence, and even when we have absolutely no clue what actions we need to take.
That is where the wise advisor comes into the story. College and university professor have long seen the value in advising the students they feel have potential in their area of learning. Successful business owners surround themselves with even more successful business owners, because they know the value of standing on the shoulders of giants in order to see the vistas of the future.
The field of personal and business coaching has grown exponentially as everyday folks seek out someone to help find a way through their own personal challenges. And let’s not forget the non-traditional spiritual advisors we now seek, and the fact that modalities such as psychics, tarot card readers (me included), and astrologers have become mainstream and regularly excepted as sources for wise advice. Because what most people desire, at the core of their being, is the chance to become the hero in their own story. They just need some support along the way.
We all have a story to play out. We write it with every decision we make in our day to day lives. Some choices just move the story along from chapter to chapter. Some are life altering and have the capacity to take your story in a completely different direction, and then there are a very few – stand at the precipice, leap of faith – type of decisions sprinkled throughout our lives that if we rise to the calling, can become the source of a legendary tale.
Odds are, right now, you have a challenge before you that has the ingredients for a potential legend. Maybe it’s a long held dream that you are too afraid to create into reality. Or there is a perceived monster (obstacle) blocking your progress and you don’t know how to vanquish it. Any worthwhile adventure will have mountains to climb but it is in the journey that the legendary tale has the potential to be born.
You can be the hero in your story but you do not have to do it alone. The only way to build confidence and banish fear, is to act. Find that one person who can be your trusted advisor. They will help you work out a plan. Because the only way through a challenge is to meet it head on, armed with heroic intention and dependable advice to steer clear of the mythical monsters who stand in your path.
And what of the reward? What treasure would entice you to leave your safe, comfy home and venture out into the unknown? Is it vast riches, a secret love, a more peaceful world? Or maybe it is nothing more than an inner knowing that tells you that you have what it takes to be successful beyond your wildest dreams, to live your own legendary life, and that you are in fact, the treasure.