You’ve Gotta Get to Know Joe (Campbell)


I’ve invoked the name of Joseph Campbell quite often in my writings, and with good reason. He was the primary inspiration behind my creation of Live The Hero. Mr. Campbell (or Joe, as I like to call him) is my main source for the “life philosophy” I collated together from various sources.

Campbell’s work is the foundation for the “practical philosophy” I set out to define, in order to give myself and others a system for approaching life with enthusiasm, purpose, and resilience.

If I haven’t encouraged you enough to read up on Joe, I’m doing so now! My purpose with Live The Hero is to break down the hero’s journey into digestible parts, and create a means of making it accessible, understandable, and implementable for a broad range of people. I want folks of all walks of life to benefit from the lessons laid out in Campbell’s creation.

How to Explore Joe’s Work

If you want to explore Campbell’s ideas directly, a good place to start is The Hero with a Thousand Faces. In this work, he describes the hero’s journey concept in detail, and includes examples from the mythology of various cultures. Just a note: the book may seem a bit scholarly and heavy reading for some tastes.

If you want a more “layman’s” introduction to the hero’s journey, you can read The Power of Myth. This is an interview with Campbell conducted by journalist Bill Moyers. If you’d rather watch the interview, you can always check out the series that aired on PBS in 1988 (the year after Joe passed away at the age of 83).

From there, you can move on to works like Follow Your Bliss. You can also watch the excellent documentary film Finding Joe. Here’s the trailer:

Why You Should Study Joe

Joe reminded our modern world that ancient myth was created for the purpose of illuminating the human condition. Our legends are a study of what it means to be a part of our species. Myths challenge us to strive to be more. 

We have always—and will always—create stories of our joy and pain, our triumphs and failures. Joe also reminded us that we’re still creating myths today. It’s not by chance that our popular culture is rife with superheros.

Your life is a story you create with your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. You just need to remember that you are the author, and you can write your own story. Don’t let anyone else write it for you!

Think of one of your favorite novel, show, or movie. It probably includes some drama, some humor, some sadness, some happiness, and maybe some adventure. Would you enjoy that favorite story if it didn’t have all of those aspects? Probably not. Now, think about your life in the same way.

What sort of story do you want your life to be? Decide on what you want, and take action to make it happen! Joe would be proud of you!

Author: Anthony Simeone

I'm a writer, speaker, and an advocate for everyday heroism. I have over two decades of experience in the practical application of literature, philosophy, psychology, and other disciplines. The culmination of my work is the Live the Hero program, a life philosophy that promotes personal development combined with service to others. Live the Hero combines the wisdom found in the arts and humanities with the latest discoveries related to research in heroism science and positive psychology. You can learn more at

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