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?