Here's the third installment of my conversation with Steve. His insightful blogpost is here and he reflects on his own JOurneY and what he's currently working on. He also asks you some poignant questions to begin your own reflection process. Enjoy!
Interview on the JOurneY (TM), Part 3 of 3
Steve: All of this talk about journeying has me thinking of the hero's journey, which we’ve discussed a few times. What is the hero’s journey? What are the similarities and differences between the hero’s journey and the journeys of others?
Bijoy: Ah, the hero's journey! Joseph Campbell was a journeyer. And his journey was to map all the mythic stories and bring them together into one mega-story. What he found was that the journey has this architecture to it, and he made a model. He found that the Mahabharata and the Odyssey and the Iliad and the Native American myths were all telling the same story. But he was looking at the old stories, the mythical stories, and culture. He breaks the story down into lots of different stages, but if you abstract out, you'll see three basic stages in Campbell's model. But in terms of scope of his work, he was just trying to get us up to speed. In a sense, he was doing the history part of journeying, right? Journeying has been around for a long time. Campbell gets us up to speed on what the journeys have been and the stories that have come up in cultures that relate to journey. So, he got us to the present moment. Storytellers like George Lucas and others use that structure to create new stories. But the thing to recognize is that Campbell ended at a certain point. He implied that the work he’d done relates to all of us, but he didn’t say, “Now, let me teach you how to do this yourself.” He didn’t do that at all. I very much love his work, but I think the scope of his work is different from the scope of my work.
Steve: Then, the question Campbell left behind is how to apply the lessons we’ve learned through his historical journey work to our own lives?
Bijoy: Right. That's the problem, right? What do I have to do with Jason or Odysseus, these heroes that are so much bigger than life?
Steve: In all the times we've talked about the hero’s journey, you've never really brought those questions up.
Bijoy: Campbell says, “hero’s journey,” whereas I just strip the hero part out and refer to the journey or journeyer. You’re just on your journey. You just had a journey. Because you, essentially, are the hero of your own journey, if you want to be. You don't have to say, “hero's journey,” because it's redundant.
Steve: You don’t even have to be on a hero's journey, necessarily.
Bijoy: I’m saying you can be to the extent that you want to be the hero of your own life. You can take control of your own journey, and say, “Yes, I am on a hero’s journey,” without thinking of it in a literal sense, or, I mean, without thinking that your journey has to be like those of the old, mythical heroes that went off on these grand adventures out in the world. Even Campbell realized that the hero is actually coming into personal enlightenment. The hero thinks they’re playing this game out in the world, but actually, they’re coming to a personal enlightenment about themselves. They're actually coming to themselves, or at-one-ment, atonement with themselves and the world, right?
One of the reasons people don’t go on journeys is that they don't know that they can. That speaks to one major problem that I want to solve. I want to put it out there that, hey, there's this journey thing. You can go on a journey. You don't have to conform to somebody else’s way of doing things. You can find your own way. You can sing your own RUNE of beJOY! That's really my number one thing.
Steve: In the journey workshop, it was really interesting to see that some people didn't necessarily have the confidence to claim that they had a journey prior to the class. And then, at some point during the class, they made an important… People were consistently rethinking the way that they were thinking about things.
Bijoy: And owning things that were them or that they were before. Yeah, it was very cool. And people had different issues. That was the other cool thing. People started with entrepreneurship, and then really suddenly realized that it was in a different dimension in their life that they needed to journey. They’d journeyed in one area, but they needed to journey in another area. It wasn’t entrepreneurship they were worried about. It was something else, and they needed to go work on that, right? That's why, to me, giving the full story, providing the full story of journey is so important. And letting people know that they can do so.
Steve: I think that perhaps the different dimensions of journeying are more interesting than the one-two-three stages of journeying. It's good to know the stages, but thinking about the different dimensions is maybe more empowering for people.
Bijoy: The fugue notion of it—that the journey is not just one line of music. It's not just about your work life and it’s not just about your spiritual life. It's about the whole thing and its separate dimensions. The answers that you come to, they'll all ultimately fuse together. The final stage of journeying, to me, is bringing it all together, fully being you, which includes your spiritual, your work, your personal, your relational dimensions, etc. Bringing it all together may be way down the road, but knowing that life has many dimensions and being able to say, "Oh, wow. Look, this part of my life is in Stage One,” and, “That's great. That's no problem. That's fine. That's okay,” and recognizing that other parts of your life are going into Stage Two or are in Stage Two, is quite powerful.
Steve: Here are my final questions. Thank you, by the way, for taking the time to fill me in on your thinking. Where are you heading next? What do you think your journey work will lead you to a year from now, or two or three years from now?
Bijoy: Gosh, who knows? You know, for me, it's my work to help “journify” the world. To make more journeys happen. To make more possibilities for journeys. I think one of the things I've definitely gotten to do here recently is to articulate this in a way that people can at least begin to digest without my having to be there. The journey workshop, or class, is one piece, but I think the class is actually a second step. The first step is maybe the journey book or the journey podcast. The workshop may have just been a precursor to those things. It’s definitely been helpful. Thank you for giving me space to do that at the GoLab. But I just think the people need a way to get their arms around journey as a thing. And I need to provide my version of journey, my synthesis of journey to them.
Steve: What you're saying is next is more of the same? [Laughs.]
Bijoy: Yeah. Maybe more of all that I've been doing this whole time, but I think what I'm saying is that…on a different level, when I see, when I talk to anybody, when I go to a city, talk to a community, talk to an entrepreneur or business, is that I'm just trying to get them to be more on their journey than they were before I showed up. That's what I've been doing my whole life, and I'm just gonna do more of that. The question I'm asking myself is how to be more effective when it comes to helping other people go on their journeys. I've worked with friends, individuals. The process is about giving ourselves time and space to think. Giving you some time and space to reflect on your journey and where you want to take GoLab and FG SQUARED, for example. But the work I’ve been doing up to this point is not very scalable. It's fun for me, it's fun for you and our set of friends, but there's a whole world out there that ought to be able to go on its own journey without having to talk to me, specifically. So, that's my question. How do I evangelize? How do I share, articulate? That's, I think, my first problem, my first challenge.
Steve: You want the world to be able to take advantage of specific models.
Steve: Certainly, you can only help so many people in person. You want to reach people who can’t access you directly, and let them know models exist.
Bijoy: I don't want everyone to have to come to Austin. I'd like them to be able to enact their own journeys in cities all over the world. In Austin, we have our journey experience (and I'll be speaking about that at SXSW 2014). We're all helping each other create it. That's wonderful, but not everyone's going to move to Austin. We don't want everyone moving to Austin! And we want to help other places, other people around the world to go on their journeys.
Steve: How do you do that? In a way, it sounds like you’re asking how to offer journey models without compromising the quality, or the core, of what it is you’re offering.
Bijoy: Without compromising the essence of it? I think the problem is two-fold. One aspect of the problem is finding the best way to make people aware of their journeys. That's what we tried to do with the workshop, to some extent. But what I don’t want to do—and what I’m not doing—is saying, "Oh, here's how you should journey." On the contrary, I'm saying that you can journey, that there's this third way of existing in the world that has to do with not going for safety and not going for outcomes. It's a journey, and it exists. The challenge is letting people know it’s a valid way of living and being and, oh, by the way, many have done it. This has happened before. It’s happening now! And you can do it, too! The second aspect of the problem is answering the question of how to journey, and answering that question requires methodology and tools.
Steve: I'm kind of going off-the-cuff here, but I’m thinking that if Austin is a journey city, the creative people who live here have something to do with that. You’ve talked about artists being here at the beginning of the city’s formation, that artists have been journeying here all along. This has caused me to wonder whether there are perhaps some cities, like Austin, that will be more inclined to be open to journey methodology, etc.
Bijoy: And I'd say it's no accident that the places I've visited, I think, are journey cities. The places I've gone that want to hear the message are places that are trying to figure out their journeys. And these are not the major cities in the world. They're not the New Yorks and the San Franciscos and Hong Kongs. Those cities already have such a formed identity, they're not looking inward; they're just looking down the road. I’m talking more about cities that are little bit off the beaten track, that are quirky and unique and have already been journeying, and are now trying to figure out their next steps. It's really fun to have that identification process happen, for instance, not with London, but with Hackney. Not with Bangkok, but with Chiang Mai. Not with Durham, but with Asheville or Wilmington.
Steve: Do you think maybe that these cities are more open to reflection?
Bijoy: Yeah, I do think they’re open to reflection. They don't have an identity that's already dominating them. There's more flexibility and openness. Maybe they’re questioning. Maybe they've hit a roadblock somewhere. Those types of things are the things that are gonna make you think, right?
Journey work happens in life. It doesn't happen in a classroom. The reflection part can happen in the classroom, but the work is happening in life. Life is the dojo. When something happens in the world that causes you to interrupt or change or stop—and that thing can be a death of a friend or an accident or failure—something, that's when you are doing the work. That’s when you have an opportunity to say, "Oh, maybe what I've been doing isn’t the only way to do it." I think people are curious about that. When they ask the question, “How do we reinvent ourselves?” they're really asking the question, “How do we find ourselves again?” How do I express who I really am? That's different than reinventing. Because reinventing says you've got to manufacture and make up something or create a story. That's not what we're talking about here.
Steve: You're saying your journey could come full circle, ultimately, if you stay at it long enough.
Bijoy: Yeah. It always does. Once you get to the stage three part of your journey, in some respects, you continually never stop. You're always going to curate.
Steve: Well, thank you very much, Bijoy. I’ve enjoyed interviewing you. Any last words?
Bijoy: Happy journeys. Happy trails!