Recently, I’ve been taking a social innovations class at BYU-I where we are encouraged to keep a journal of what we learn each week. Welcome to entry five of said journal. I’ll be using Joseph Campbell’s theory of The Hero’s Journey as a framework for my posts, each week will be a different stage.


Crossing the Threshold

Okay, so what is this “crossing the threshold” stage you ask? Well, in an effort to save time here is a pretty fabulous definition from Wikepedia.

“This is the point where the person actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are not known.” – Wikepedia

In Harry Potter this would be illustrated by boarding the Hogwarts Express and entering the great hall, in Twilight Bella got on a plane to Forks, in the Hunger Games Katniss boarded a train to the capital. As I jumped on a shuttle to come back to school, after visiting my family for the weekend, I thought about all the hero’s from my favorite stories and the times where, they too, had to say goodbye to their families and enter a land very different from their own. In the memories of their stories I found comfort as I was driving away from my “bestest” friends in the whole world. Joseph Campbell once said on the topic of this stage:

“The usual person is more than content, he is even proud, to remain within the indicated bounds, and popular belief gives him every reason to fear so much as the first step into the unexplored. The adventure is always and everywhere a passage beyond the veil of the known into the unknown; the powers that watch at the boundary are dangerous; to deal with them is risky; yet for anyone with competence and courage the danger fades.” [5]  Joseph Campbell

In class Professor Gwilliam said “You have to build specific connections.” When you look at this stage it’s often where our hero’s found their friends, as they crossed the threshold into the unknown they found others to travel with them who had specific talents and abilities that would ultimately help insure the success of the adventure. It is crucial that as we cross the threshold into starting our own innovations we keep our eyes open for the people with the talents and gifts that would help us to create the success of our businesses, and their impacts. In class, we also talked about the importance of creating good habits and why creating habits are so crucial to our success. In social innovation, and in life in general, you have to be someone who can make something happen. This involves carefully developing the habits that form us into the people we need to be to achieve. We need to make our weaknesses our strengths. Something else that came to mind, as I was thinking about our heroes, is how often there is opposition as we are crossing the threshold. So many times they have an idea about what it’s going to be like and so they formulate a plan. Unfortunately, once they get there, that plan somehow falls apart.  This also applies to us. In one of the videos we watched in class Steve Blank’s said,

“No business plan survives the first contact with the customers”


This leads me to the first question to be answered…

On getting punched in the mouth.

What do you think of the statement by Mike Tyson “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth,” in reference to starting up a business? How is this statement true regarding brand new enterprises?

You can cross the threshold and start your business with the most brilliant and well thought out plan according to your knowledge and idea of how the new world you are entering will operate and chances are the plan will completely disintegrate. However, the good news is that that isn’t a bad thing. Once your plan reaches your clients or customers, and crosses the threshold with you into the new world, it is going to change. The plan you start with and the plan you end up with will often be very very different, and that is because once you make that move, you are able to receive feedback from those who will actually be using your product, or taking part in your impact. That is amazing. Now, it’s important to have a plan and key points of that plan will often stay in place, yet it’s also important to get out there and see the needs of the people/the traits of this new land you are entering and adjust your plan accordingly.


On benefits and limitations

When starting a business, is one business model enough? Why? What are the benefits and what are the limitations?

As I was saying previously we can’t start up a business and build it to be rigid. We won’t be able to sustain it. The world is in constant flux, and we need to be ready to pivot and adapt as we see the needs of the people. Our clients/customers/employees will be changing as human beings every day. We as human beings are in the business of change. Because of this we need to create a mindset that we can found our businesses on that will encourage being multifaceted. In the end one model isn’t enough, not just for sustainability reasons, but because as human beings we are multifaceted and we look for pieces of ourselves in the businesses that we support.


On crossing the threshold part 2

As I arrived in Rexburg tonight, I was SO excited, my heart was filled with joy. I am so blessed to have this adventure in my life, and as I could see the light of the temple in the distance and as I pulled up to campus it was so clear to me that this is the adventure I’m meant to be on. Though the ache of missing my family was still there, it was soothed by the support and the knowledge that, for now, this is where I belong. This is my adventure.