In his landmark work, The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell identifies a theme common to humanity throughout history—the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey begins when an individual feels a significant deficiency in some aspect of the status quo. This person is then compelled to embark on a search of a new design that reveals a resolution. The result is a series of adventures beyond the ordinary, either to recover an essential aspect of inner experience or to discover a technical solution that has been lost to the community. In facing fears and limitations, the hero discovers a pathway towards greater personal understanding, which in turn leads to the betterment of society.
The linking of the individual’s inner transformation with the progress of the community is what makes it a hero’s journey. The hero archetype, far from being a historical myth, is an ever-present dynamic between individual and society.
In the current moment, lest any of us doubt the need for a heroic response to creating a more sustainable economic model, just look at the economic shock waves of the first two decades of the 21st century: the tech wreck of 2000–2002, the mortgage-induced meltdown of 2008–2009, the debt explosion and resulting inflation that was required to get us through the Covid pandemic, and the recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. Integral to this economic uncertainty are the challenges we all feel in the face of accelerating technological change—not to mention the upsetting geopolitical implications of the Ukrainian war.
Thankfully, corresponding to this rise of uncertainty, we are also seeing the rise of heroes among us. These individuals—and even entire companies—are deepening their inquiry into the root economic causes of our social and environmental imbalances. They’re discovering innovative solutions for a more comprehensive financial model.
One of these solutions, impact investing, expressly seeks to weigh the need for financial profit with clearly defined social benefits and regeneration of natural capital. To achieve this, investors are using the environmental, social, and governance analysis (ESG) to inform investors about the risks associated with a given investment. Using the ESG toolbox, investors are now able to measure specific outcomes of a company’s activities beyond the financial profit metric.
This is the culmination of a near 50-year hero’s journey that has helped move the financial industry away from measuring success exclusively through financial profit (the reductionist single bottom line) to a more comprehensive triple bottom line driven by ESG data. This maturation within our financial system can be seen as a systemic response to our outdated colonial “command and control” cultural roots, which can be traced back to the Papal Doctrine of Discovery of 1493. The aggressive promotion of a materialistic and disposable consumer economy that grew out of this world view is no longer viable in the 21st century.
Using ESG data, investors and consumers can avoid the outdated idea that fulfillment only comes through more money and more stuff. Widespread use of ESG data will support the heroes among us in moving away from the unsustainable consumerism model towards a more regenerative design of civic participation and planetary accountability.
Centered Wealth is not a registered broker-dealer nor a registered investment advisor. Centered Wealth and Vanderbilt Financial Group are separate and unaffiliated entities. *Stuart T Valentine is a registered financial advisor under Vanderbilt Advisory Services, and a registered representative under Vanderbilt Securities. Vanderbilt Financial Group is the marketing name for Vanderbilt Securities, LLC and its affiliates. Securities offered through Vanderbilt Securities, LLC. Member FINRA, SIPC. Registered with MSRB. Insurance Services offered through Vanderbilt Advisory Services. Clearing agent: Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions Advisory Services offered through Vanderbilt Advisory Services & Consolidated Portfolio Review. Clearing agents: Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions, Charles Schwab & TD Ameritrade Supervising Office: 55 Main Street, Suite 415 Newmarket, NH 03857 603-659-7626. For additional information on services, disclosures, fees, and conflicts of interest, please visit www.vanderbiltfg.com/disclosures.