Craft Minutes with Steven Barnes – 6


As we move through this seventeen-part series on human adulthood, it is important to note that the state of human maturity is quite independent of any definitions we apply, or whatever methods we use to approach it. This series is not about the “only” way of exiting the prolonged childhoods so many men and women experience, but it IS a highly valid approach, one which will yield powerful benefits just from studying the pattern.

The sixth step of the Hero’s Journey, extracted from countless stories from around the world, is the “Confront Evil–face defeat.” This is the moment in the original “Star Wars” when Obi-Wan Kenobi is slain by Darth Vader. Obi-Wan was supposed to shepherd Luke to manhood, or more specifically to the full skills of the Jedi Warrior. In “Casablanca” this point is probably the moment it seems Rick has sold out all principle, and made a deal with the Nazis to jail Laslo and escape with Ilsa.

“Evil” might refer to an external enemy (Darth Vader) or the internal demons that stop all of us from achieving our full potential. In fact, it is considered sophisticated structure mirroring for the external enemy to reflect the internal issues. This is because wise men and women have, for centuries, understood that our greatest enemies are within us. That we must defeat our demons in order to join the angels.

There is another important thing to understand about this step: that defeat, failure, is an absolutely essential and unavoidable part of the process of growth. In fact, if you don’t fail, you just aren’t trying. As one wag put it: “the only way you know how far you can go is by going too far.” You define the map by going to its edge. A Home-Run king has to have a serious tolerance for striking out. If he has a .333 batting average, that means he strikes out 2/3 of the time. Sales, which rests at the base of all personal success, is purely a numbers game. The writers who “make it” have the greatest tolerance for hearing the word “no.”

Children think that failure means that they cannot, or should not. Adults understand that failure means that that way, this time, doesn’t work. They understand that failure is just a sign that they are serious about trying. When Thomas Edison was asked about his five thousand failures to construct an electric light bulb, he is said to have answered: “I did not fail. I know five thousand approaches that do not work.”

THIS is how you have to think, and feel, to become a champion. And it is certainly what every adult must learn, if he is to transform the fragile dreams of childhood into worldly success and accomplishment.

Ask yourself:

1) What have I learned from this failure?

2) What is another, more positive term I can apply to the results of these actions?

3) What was the greatest “failure” in the life of my most important role model? How did he or she deal with it?

NY Times bestselling novelist, lecturer, martial artist and success coach Steven Barnes has over three million published words, as well as writing for television’s The Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, and Stargate SG-1. He has created The Hero’s Journey, the holistic success system for the 21st Century. Also the breakthrough 101 program. Get FREE information at:

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