In his new book, Hero on a Mission, Donald Miller breaks down the four main characters in a story, and how each of them represents an aspect of the roles we play in our lives.
In this episode of the TeacherZone podcast, we discuss these roles and how they apply to the way we run our teaching businesses. If you like stories, movie references, and ideas that make you love your work even more…then this one’s for you!
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0:00:05.5 Tyler Marolf: Welcome to the next episode of The Teacher Zone with Chris and Tyler. I’m Tyler Marolf, I’m here with Chris Bates, and we have another exciting podcast, it’s probably gonna be a two-parter for you today, and we kinda wanna call it… Chris wanted to call it “Life Is Beautiful,” [chuckle] because it is… And there’s a lot to do with that.
So cool, maybe we’ll call it that, we’ll figure that out once we post it, but we have been diving into a new book, and Chris is gonna get into it, called Hero On A Mission by Donald Miller, the same guy who wrote The StoryBrand book.
So there it is, if you’re watching live or on YouTube, and so Chris is gonna go over the main characters that are pretty much in every story in life. Not just the stories we love to read, the movies we love to watch, because those are all just personifications of experiences right Chris? So do you wanna get into how excited we are about, and what those four character breakdowns are?
0:01:06.1 Chris Bates: Yes, so I hope a lot of you, if you haven’t heard of Donald Miller and StoryBrand, Tyler and I just love his methodology, it’s really great marketing. Really, it’s a modern approach to marketing where you take and you really create a story out of your brand that then talks to a hero, which is your customer.
So in our case, in the lesson business and class business, it’s students. So the students are the hero, bottom line. So it’s not, “We are your hero, we teach you this and that,” it’s… The student’s the hero, so you’re basically saying that you are there to serve the hero, kind of like a Yoda, Luke Skywalker. Yoda is the guide, Luke is the hero. So too many businesses back in the old marketing days would say “We’re your hero” and Donald’s saying “No, no, no, no, the customer wants to be the hero, you’re there to help the hero.”
0:02:03.4 TM: Chris, a lot of the old marketing was based on product, get this, buy it, and you’re out. You know, it was very much, can you get someone excited about something once and then maybe could keep going, and now people want more, they want to be part of things, they wanna be part of destinations, they wanna be…
0:02:25.0 CB: Community, relationship, tribe…
0:02:28.4 TM: They wanna experience memories, so it’s not just “Sweet, here’s your guitar lesson kid,” or “here’s your jiu-jitsu lesson kid. Stick with me for a while, you might learn something.” Those days… That ship has set sail.
0:02:44.5 CB: Yeah, they call that, the old mindset with that sort of sage on the stage. “You listen to me, I am the only one that will impart this data.” The new way is if you think about Yoda with Luke as an example, half the time Yoda’s very quiet, he says very, like two word sentences.
0:03:02.7 TM: I remember thinking Yoda, when I was little, was a joke Muppet, when I first saw the movie, like, there was no way this guy was gonna be anything. And remember they made you think he wasn’t even the Yoda yet, like the one he was looking for! For about five minutes, he was just messing with him and poking Luke, and it was so funny in the whole time…
0:03:24.4 CB: Well he’s like a foot tall!
0:03:25.5 TM: Yeah and he was just being a dork and he was funny, and there’s no way this is the guy I flew across the galaxy to save the universe with.
0:03:36.3 CB: Right, and what’s so cool is that he’s not saying, “Look at me, look at me,” Yoda’s always saying, “Look at you, young Luke,” you know?
0:03:44.6 TM: Yes.
0:03:45.0 CB: And so that’s a big part of being a hero. So what we wanna explore today is you, the person listening to this. So whether you’re a director, you’re an owner, you’re someone in some leadership position for your class and lesson business, and we wanna look at you as the hero and the guide, and then in the next episode we’ll actually look at your teachers and your students and their roles in that too. So in looking at us, it’s important that we all have strength that we can have a good business. So let’s look at the four… In the introduction, the four characters of the story that we’re all writing, ’cause Tyler, let’s face it, we’re all making this stuff up anyways, it’s a story. And I’ve seen some of your businesses, you guys are definitely making it up. [laughter]
0:04:30.7 TM: Yeah, we’re making it up as we go anyway! And that’s what it… We’ve always said if you’re making it up, make it up awesome.
0:04:37.6 CB: Yeah, ’cause some of you, some of you have made up some of the neatest stuff and some of you made some stuff up that might not be so great, we all do it, we all come up with ideas that we think…
0:04:48.9 TM: We’ve done it! We’ve done it, we… As you guys know or maybe not, what… Chris and I own teacherzone.com, and I’m not gonna tell you what, but in the very beginning, we coded $100,000 worth of stuff we deleted.
0:05:01.5 CB: Oops!
0:05:04.5 TM: We found out that was not the way it needed to be.
0:05:08.3 CB: That’s an important part of the journey. So let’s talk about the four characters… So in the story that we’re writing in life, there’s always four characters, and you can think of Marvel movies, you can think of Star Wars, you can think of anything like that where there’s a true hero, any sort of adventure. Alright, so here’s the four roles: There’s the victim, the villain, the hero, and the guide.
0:05:30.4 TM: Okay.
0:05:30.7 CB: So the victim, the victim is the character that feels they have no way out. They’re stuck.
0:05:36.7 TM: Trapped, they’re trapped.
0:05:37.9 CB: They’re trapped. So that’s the easy way to think about a victim. They’re in a basement, locked up, they’re a victim. The villain is the one who makes other people feel small, so they get what they want by somehow pushing someone else down or making them feel small. The hero, on the other hand, is the character that faces up to challenges and transforms. And that’s what we want all of us to be, because we can’t be great guides and leaders if we’re not willing to also be the hero.
0:06:11.9 TM: Right.
0:06:12.4 CB: Which means facing up to those challenges even when we don’t want to. And lastly, the guide is the highest character in every story. And that’s the one who helps the hero become the hero.
0:06:25.3 TM: Right.
0:06:25.9 CB: So in other words, helps the hero through their challenges, because let’s face it as heroes, we all need help. We can’t do it alone…
0:06:32.7 TM: And you can’t be a guide if you haven’t experienced a transformation of some sort that you attacked as a hero. What would you have to offer, how can you present and be a guide if you have zero experience in it?
0:06:50.4 CB: You know, it’s really funny if you take… Tyler and I… Something just came to mind, Tyler. So Tyler and I happen to own Performance Academy for Music. And so if you take whatever it is you teach and you think about someone who’s super, super, super talented at whatever it is you teach… And so in our case, we actually had one of our instructors that was super, super, super talented, but that person hadn’t faced enough challenges and overcome enough challenges to become a true hero even though they ha
d talent. Then you take someone that doesn’t know how, and like in our case, to play music, let’s just say… Well, let’s take someone that’s actually been through a lot of life struggle. We could probably bring that person in and they would be a better mentor to a beginning music student than an advanced player that had no life experience, because being a hero is about overcoming challenges and while you have to overcome challenges to learn a skill. For sure, to be a good mentor, it’s also about overcoming life challenges ’cause you gotta be able to tell them… When a student is struggling with something, you have to be able to shine light on… “How do I get through this struggle?” And so if you haven’t been there…
0:08:06.6 TM: Right, light and solution. If it’s not light and solution-based and… No, that’s a great point, Chris.
0:08:13.0 CB: So Tyler, something came to my mind with this whole idea of we’re writing our story. So what I want everyone to do, the ideal is, is that Tyler and I and you guys listening, let’s all just realize that we are the authors of this story. And so we get to write the most exciting adventure ever known to man.
0:08:34.7 TM: By the way, you guys, there is nothing that is not doable or that you shouldn’t add to your story. If you think it should be there, we’re giving you permission to put it there. Don’t assume people will think it’s wrong. Don’t assume this business or industry wouldn’t allow that. Don’t assume… We don’t do make up lessons at our school. 90% of the industry thinks that’s insane and our business runs fantastic. Don’t think when you’re making this awesome story in your mind, whether it’s in color, black and white, video, 4K, picture it, Visualize it. You’re allowed to put any pieces you want in there. Don’t leave them out ’cause you’re scared of it.
0:09:22.1 CB: You could literally have a business doing what nobody else thinks is a business, if you do it better than everyone else and people give it value.
0:09:30.2 TM: And it solves something and it helps somebody.
0:09:33.0 CB: Yeah, if you help people solve something. Something as simple as… I’m making it up, but a button on a shirt. If you are the best button person in town, eventually everyone will know every time they lose a button, “Oh, I gotta go to Tyler. He’s a button guy.” You can literally be the button guy or…
0:09:58.8 CB: So Tyler, with that, I think it’s important to say this. There’s a great book out there called “Story.” If you haven’t read it, it’s… If you’re a writer or like to write, it’s a great book. I read it years ago and it’s a screenwriter, one of the most famous professors of screenwriting and screenwriters. And what’s great about this book “Story” is he literally outlines every possible way you can tell a story from every genre and all that. It’s amazing. It’s an amazing 300-page book that literally outlines in humanity every possible way to tell a story. The reason I bring it up is ’cause he points out in the beginning of the book that every story quite simply has to have light to dark, dark to light, light to dark, dark to light always. That’s the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is, everything’s going great and then all of a sudden a wrench gets thrown in it. Now, I got a challenge I gotta fix.
0:10:55.7 TM: Sound familiar?
0:11:00.2 CB: So for those of you that are feeling overwhelmed, maybe you got a bunch of challenges coming at you today or last week, just know that that’s ’cause you’re on the hero’s journey. It’s awesome. And that transformation, that coming through that challenge is what makes it an adventure. In that book, he talks about… He’s very clear, and I want you guys, you’re never gonna watch a TV or a movie the same way. Every scene… And for those of you that are in theater, I’m probably butchering this, but every scene has to have some sort of transformative effect. So you’ll notice that the old sitcoms would go to commercial as soon as something either got light or as soon as something typically got dark. So it’s like… Let me give you an example. If we were to write a really boring story, we would say, “Chris walked up to Tyler and said, ‘Hey, man, how you doing?’ ‘I’m doing great.’ ‘Me too.’ ‘Awesome.’ They high five. They both did great. They hung out. Everything was great. The end.”
0:12:05.2 CB: Chris said, ‘Hey, Tyler'” Now, another story, “Chris said, ‘Hey, Tyler, how you doing?’ ‘Hey, I’m doing great.’ ‘Awesome, me too.’ ‘Let’s take a walk.’ ‘Sure.’ They’re taking a walk. Tyler trips, breaks his leg. Chris looks around and goes, ‘Oh-oh, I don’t know how to get him help. There’s no one around and I don’t have my phone with me.’ There’s a helicopter. Chris flags it down…
0:12:24.9 CB: They come over the loudspeaker, ‘Tyler, did you break your leg?’ He says, ‘Yes, I did. Can you please send help?’ A guy parachutes out of the helicopter…
0:12:33.9 CB: “‘Cause he realizes Tyler’s break is so bad that he’s not gonna live in the next 10 minutes if he doesn’t get him help. The helicopter pulls him up. They rush him to… ” So you get the point. Every story has to have a challenge to overcome or it’s boring.
0:12:49.7 TM: Right.
0:12:49.8 CB: So please understand that the hero’s job is that constant overcoming of challenges and that transformative effect, and that’s who we all have to be day in and day out if we’re gonna lift up our staff, if we’re gonna keep growing our business, if we’re gonna craft the life that we wanna craft.
0:13:06.9 TM: Right, ’cause remember what kind of hero you are. If you are a true hero, when you’re handling things with grace as they come one at a time and you’re… The gracefulness is shining through. The teams see that, everyone. It’s attractive. People see how you handle challenges and they will, in turn, react to things in similar ways. Otherwise, they will act just like you, even if they’re not like you. They think it’s the right way to say something, because you did it one time. One time. It’s like kids. One time you respond to a customer this way and say, maybe even as a founder, “Listen, we do this this way. Sorry, we’re not changing.” Well, imagine if one of your people who wasn’t the founder said the same thing. [laughter] There’s just graceful ways to overcome challenges and still live by your standards. And so that is a neat part of the journey I see too.
0:14:09.5 CB: Well, let’s take your analogy, and by the way, we won’t go into it, but Tyler actually just had a call with a customer and that’s what’s on his mind about that. Because let’s face it, we’re getting push back all the time as business owners for all sorts of things and all of us are the challenge… We’re basically the trash collectors. We’re the ones having to deal with a lot of the problems and what Tyler is saying is how you choose to deal with them. So let’s put it in context of the characters. If I choose to deal with it as a victim, I’m gonna have one type of reaction. And we all play these roles by the way, it’s not Tyler play them, you guys play them. What’s that?
0:14:47.5 TM: The victim, it’s just no fun, especially if you put yourself there.
0:14:51.1 CB: Yeah, but we all do it. We’re all being like, “Oh, I know that you think that, Mr. Or Mrs. Customer, but I’ll tell you what, I had a really rough month. My whole family had the flu, my dad was in the hospital.” We’re playing the victim.
0:15:05.7 TM: Or education is expensive, there’s, we have to do it this way, and you’re like on your heels, and it’s that weak victim feeling that we put ourselves in. That character.
0:15:18.7 CB: Or we play the villain in that role, make them feel small. “Easy for you to say, why don’t you open your own business and then you’ll see.”
0:15:27.6 TM: Right. Or something, it doesn’t even have to be that extreme and it can still make a customer feel small.
0:15:34.9 CB: Yep, so if we’re gonna come from it as the hero, then it has to be more transformative. And so we have to basically learn to… Just always be willing to grow, I think right? I think that that’s the bottom line is that…
0:15:49.7 TM: Willing to listen, and then solve and grow, but then the founders creates the standards for a reason. The customers and the staff don’t make the standards of a company. The culture and standards start from the ground zero. So as long as they match the standards, and you don’t have to get in a pissing match with someone or something like that, then you’re golden. Then it might equal, “Well, maybe we aren’t the right fit for you after all, but maybe we will be someday.”
0:16:23.5 CB: And that can be a hero stance, because what you’re not doing is you’re not reacting. So the victim always wants to be rescued. And so what’s funny is actually in this book, Tyler, he kind of walks through those scenarios of how he goes from being, “Oh, we did it in a… ” I know what it was, he was speaking at an event. And the guy came to him and he said, “Where’s all my PA and all this?” And the guy was like, “Well, we haven’t set it up yet.” So he goes, “So I immediately go to the victim, ‘Ah, this always happens to me, every event. Oh my gosh.'” And then that guy then immediately goes to the villain of like, “You always demand too much with us. We’re doing the best we can.” What’s funny is they go back and forth between villain/victim, villain/victim, villain/victim. Nothing’s getting solved. You’re playing out a life drama. So if we’re…
0:17:18.7 TM: You’ve all been there, where you’re just like, “Where did this just come from? How did we circle down the toilet this far with eight sentences?”
0:17:29.4 CB: Yeah. Oh, I know, I’m not remembering all the elements of it, but that actually, in psychology is I think called the drama circle. You’re creating sort of this drama circle where… So the bottom line, guys, is that we’re writing the story. So each day what we really want to try and convey in this one, and then we’ll really go deep into all of our businesses in the next podcast. This one, we really wanted to convey that you guys are heroes. Small business owners, I’m sorry, you’re a hero. It’s hard. You’ve chosen to do what most people either can’t or are too afraid to do.
0:18:10.2 TM: And this all might sound like, “Oh, that’s common sense. That makes sense.” And I know you open-minded, avid listeners, you’re tracking with us exactly right now. But some of you, maybe newer listeners might be like, “Yeah, that makes sense. Okay, cool.” Well, the bottom line is, is if you’re truly open-minded, sometimes human beings that are fallible need to have it broken down in the four characters, because we might not have even identified that we were being a villain for the last two years. How can you work on something within yourself or your staff if nobody knows it even exists and they don’t know it’s happening.”
0:18:52.7 CB: Love it. That’s exactly right.
0:18:54.7 TM: So when Chris explains victim and villain and then hero and guide, obviously you know where we’re going with this. Let it sink in. Review your lives. That’s what we do. Where, on my side of the street, does this, call it curriculum, where does this guide, ’cause Chris is being a guide when he’s telling you this, where does this fit in? If I take a quick inventory of the last week… Have I been a villain?
0:19:23.4 TM: Maybe at home. Why leave it at the business, at home, what happens at home affects your business if you care about your home… You know what I mean? So, when this place is down…
0:19:35.1 CB: How many times you know to change roles, Tyler that, is it, man, you’re right, you gotta… All of us have to define what role we’re in throughout the day each day, and define it and realize that we’re switching based on who we’re around, and so…
0:19:55.7 TM: Or how hungry you are. What if you’re hungry? I’m a villain when I’m hungry, I might go into victim mode at some point if I’m that hungry and my blood sugar is just gone, but mostly a villain, see what I mean? There’s a lot of environmental things that you can put yourself into to make you feel certain ways, sleep, Chris, remember when you were getting three hours of sleep a night for like two months…
0:20:18.1 CB: Yeah. I switched from victim and villain, I go from victim of poor me, poor me to… And it’s not good. Family get-togethers. If you watch yourself walk around a family get-together, like Thanksgiving or something, I mean, we all probably jump from all four roles depending on who the person is.
0:20:42.5 TM: Oh my gosh, because everybody… [chuckle] First of all, mom and dad…
0:20:47.4 CB: That was dynamics.
0:20:48.5 TM: Mom and dad push our buttons because they installed the buttons, first of all, they’re the ones who actually put the buttons in us, and then we got sisters and the brothers to deal with, and it’s like… You know what, let’s not even talk about that, ’cause that’s like, whatever is above guide, we need that guy to help us with family situations. No I’m just kidding. [chuckle]
0:21:10.2 CB: But I think what you were saying is right, that’s the best we can take away from this right now in this talk is, we want you guys to take away the awareness that we are writing the story, whether you like it or not. So we like for all of us to just take some ownership of the fact that we’re our own stories author, and how lucky are we to be able to live in a country where… Regardless of where you are in the world. If you’re listening to this, you’re probably in a place where you have the freedom, you’re not a true victim, even though you may have had a hard life, true victims are really stuck. I mean, really stuck. Could never have their own business because there’s just not that opportunity that will ever arise for them, so let’s put it into real perspective, let’s realize what rules we’re jumping into throughout the day, and then honestly since we’re writing at each day, can we make ourselves a better hero tomorrow? And can we be a better guide to the heroes in our life?
0:22:12.0 TM: So, your homework.
0:22:13.4 TM: Ready, take a quick inventory of victim/villain hero guide and put yourself and take let’s say five to 10 bigger interactions that happened throughout the last week or two weeks, jot them down, that are memorable, maybe three, I don’t know, write them down and identify if you were the guide, the hero, the victim or the villain in those, okay. Because we’re talking about founders, directors, leaders right now in our industries. Okay, because part two, we’re gonna look at how we’re also heroes, but then guides to our staff, and then how our staff or instructors are, like Chris said earlier heroes, but then guides to the heroes who are the students… ‘Cause the students are the heroes. Why wouldn’t we have them be the heroes? And if we already think they’re like kind of like that anyways, but we’ve never really put the stamp on it, it’s time to put the stamp on that because those little heroes are coming in with their own little pictures in their minds for jiu-jitsu championships or protecting themselves from a bully or learning guitar and not being scared to talk to people or whatever it is, so those are our heroes.
0:23:35.7 CB: Take it, learning is about being a hero…
0:23:39.8 TM: Yep.
0:23:39.8 CB: Because it’s about transformation. I’m gonna read that definition before we end, one more time…
0:23:44.8 TM: Sure.
0:23:46.1 CB: Just the hero one, just the hero definition is, the hero is a character who faces their challenges and transforms. Isn’t that what we’re trying to do with our students? And we have our webinar, the transformation formula. Shameless plug, if you haven’t listened to it or watched it, please do so it’s on our website, teacherzone.com.
0:24:04.4 TM: It’s not a shameless plug, this podcast is literally brought to you by teacherzone.com, [chuckle] so it’s not a plug, but guys if you don’t know who we are yet, go to teacherzone.com, get our e-book, check out the transformation formula webinar that Chris and I did, you’ll love it. And it really… It all comes together with this journey here as well, and then Chris, we’re gonna go over how to break down maybe some more real-world staff interactions and customer interactions on next episode, is that something…
0:24:38.7 CB: Tyler, you’re a hero. You’re my hero. I can’t wait to write another chapter in our awesome adventure tomorrow with you.
0:24:47.2 TM: Love it. You’re my hero.
0:24:48.8 CB: Yeah, and that’s the fun of it, guys, is that we’re…
0:24:53.4 TM: One of my three guides, when I started Lois Rocco, before Chris and I, we’ve been friends forever, but we were just friend friends in an old industry, we tried to work together a little bit, but nothing there. Then all of a sudden, we build a music school and here comes, Chris, because he’s a couple two to three years ahead of me, four years, well way more than that, but his business was starting… His previous software company was just starting to grow and he was just in these amazing groups of business owners and absorbing his tribe and giving me information along with Bob, the super-rich dentist who retired on the cliff data point. He was one of my mentors as well. You met Bob, Chris remember Bob…
0:25:41.9 CB: Yeah. So, every hero, every time we play the hero role, we need a guide, bottom line, all of us, over and over and over and over, every time you face a challenge.
0:25:52.5 TM: So five things, five interactions in the last week where you’re victim, villain, hero or guide and do you have a guide that’s your other part of your homework, that’s part two of your homework, who’s your guide or guides? Have you talked to him in a while? Are you allowed to? Because a guide will let you. So maybe they’re not your guide. Who’s your guide? Okay, so until next time, Chris, I’ll see you next episode. How about that? [chuckle]
0:26:22.1 TM: Alright, by everybody. [chuckle]