What I get from children's stories as an entrepreneur
Of course, being the mother of a 5-year-old, I am exposed to my daily dose of Miraculous Ladybug cartoons, Hilda comic books and the like (to be totally honest our tastes don’t always match, but thankfully in the case of the aforementioned characters, they do).
But this is not something new to me.
Children’s stories have always been present in my life. A writer at heart, with a penchant for pop culture (psycho)analysis, I love this genre for its cathartic and inspirational power, even more so now that I am the creator of my own job.
Narratives for children often follow the pattern of The Hero’s Journey: a difficult and dangerous journey, which the hero must complete alone (with the occasional help of supernatural forces), during which he or she will face their deepest fears, undergo a transformation and help good triumph.
Well, this is a lot like the journey of an entrepreneur: heading out to the unknown to face the perils and self-doubt moments it entails. And double so if your entrepreneurial project was born out of a personal crisis (like for me, when I couldn’t find a job and realized I had to reinvent myself).
I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time, and last weekend I had a gentle reminder when I watched Moana (or Vaiana as she's called here in Europe) again after many months. This is one of my favorite children’s movies.
In fact, I had its soundtrack playing on repeat mode on my phone for the most part of last year while I took my first steps setting up Bonjour Geneva.
I am deeply moved by Moana's moment of doubt and how she subsequently gets the courage to move on. After receiving a blow from Te Ka, the lava monster, and being abandoned by her companion semi-god Maui, she seemingly gives up the mission of restoring the heart of mother island Te Fiti to its rightful place and asks the ocean to choose somebody else for the mission. She then receives a visit from her grandmother’s ghost who tells her:
I know a girl from an island
She stands apart from the crowd
She loves the sea and her people
She makes her whole family proud
Sometimes the world seems against you
The journey may leave a scar
But scars can heal and reveal just
Where you are
The people you love will change you
The things you have learned will guide you
And nothing on Earth can silence
The quiet voice still inside you
And when that voice starts to whisper
Vaiana, you’ve come so far
Vaiana, listen, do you know
Who you are?
And Vaiana considers the matter and comes up with:
I am a girl who loves my island
And a girl who loves the sea
It calls me
I am the daughter of the village chief
We are descended from voyagers
Who found the way across the world
They call me
I delivered us to where we are
I have journeyed further
I am everything I’ve learned and more
Still, it calls me
And the call isn’t out there at all
It’s inside me
It’s like the tide, always falling and rising
I will carry you here in my heart to remind me
That come what may
I know the way
I am Vaiana
[and there she goes, diving to fetch Te Fiti’s heart from the bottom of the ocean and complete her mission with renewed confidence]
Just like heroes, entrepreneurs answer calls from inside, calls that tell them to venture far from safe land. We experience the tide always falling and rising: those alternate moments of euphoria and despair, triumph and fear as we navigate everyday victories and setbacks. We also feel powerless and consider turning back when things don’t go as expected. We also need caring voices to remind us who we are and why the journey makes sense.
When I find myself in need of a motivation boost, I love to sing this song with all my voice.
It also helps me when I feel tempted to compare myself to other people, asking myself why I can’t be satisfied with trailing a well-known path as a sensible person would do.
How about you? Do you have cathartic rituals to help you get through challenging times?