While every human being contains both what have been called feminine and masculine traits, there are two distinct "heroic" journeys.
The traditional hero's journey - outlined so thoroughly by Joseph Campbell in his masterwork, "The Hero With a Thousand Faces" - is an outward adventure. The hero leaves his home, pierces into a dark forest, faces a dragon (his deepest fear), dies, is reborn, kills the dragon and brings home the treasure to revitalize his homeland.
The heroine's journey, on the other hand, first explicated in Maureen Murdock's book of that title, tends to be an inward dive.
Unlike Odysseus or Luke Skywalker who head up and out, the female archetypal hero dives down and in, also into a place of death, only to emerge into full life-giving power.
Persephone, goddess of fertility, emerges every Spring to make things grow, but only after a 6 month passage in the underworld. Inanna, in the Sumerian/Babylonian myth, also descends into the underworld to experience her dark "other half," before also being able to return for only half the year, bringing life to the land of the living.
And, as the writer Elizabeth Lyons observes about female heroes in the more contemporary literary novel form, "most are explorations of relationships, of the deep inner struggles we women face with our loved ones and within ourselves."
In short, while you might say that the traditional male hero's journey can be described as "Vini, Vidi Vici" ("I Came, I Saw, I Conquered!"), the female heroine's journey suggests a more internal transformation.
And what happens is not a conquering, but a transformation made of the absorbing of difficult wisdom into a greater wholeness.
When I look around at powerful women I admire, I don't see them bragging about conquering anything outside themselves, I see a kind of ruthless courage to bring forward their wounds of imperfection and suffering.
And perhaps most important, I see the ability to forge a positive mindset by including and transcending that pain as they evolve into their greater power.
Men have a primal response to and distrust of fear. Sophocles said "To him who is in fear everything rustles." Sinatra said, "Fear is the enemy of logic." Henry Ford, said, "If there is one thing which I would banish from the earth it is fear."
In many forms, men suggest that fear is your enemy and something to be shunned. Or certainly not shown in front of others. Or "banished."
Susan Jeffers, on the other hand, famously coined the phrase, "Feel the fear and do it anyway." Which is very different from "Repress or destroy the fear- and only then do what you want to do."
The feminine voice carries her wholeness into challenge.
The heroine's positivity is not a mirage of self-perfectionism or a self-aggrandizing superlative ("huuuuuge") but rather, it fully embraces the shadows and breakages of the dark side.
Marilyn Monroe said, "Imperfection is beauty." She let the world know that accepting her imperfection would be the price of the privilege of experiencing her uniqueness, "I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes. I am out of control and at times am hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best."
Staying positive in the face of fear does not require repressing your own fear or flaws. It doesn't need Mohammed Ali's poetic bluster, Donald Trump's bloviating or trash-talk on the playing court, the alleyway or the arena to sustain itself.
According to author Maryanne Radmacher, "Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I'll try again tomorrow."
I have noticed that the voice of the heroine - she who strives to bring her best to the world and to heal it every bit as much as the traditional male hero swinging his sword while he chases glory - speaks in exactly that workaday steadfastness that is so familiar to the women who have kept homes humming for so many centuries, and now keep hospitals, schools and corporate offices running calmly and reliably.
For very real reasons, the traditional heroine's voice doesn't claim any externally bestowed privilege ("I am Arthur, King of the Britons!") but rather draws authority from within.
Estee Lauder said, "I never dreamed about success. I worked for it."
In a simple flourish of positive outlook, Audrey Hepburn observed, "Nothing is impossible. The word itself says, 'I'm possible.'"
And Oprah Winfrey, our age's avatar of making the impossible possible reminds us that there is no "victory" - there is only a perpetual digging deeper into your inner resources, "I believe the choice to be excellent begins with aligning your thoughts and words with the intention to require more from yourself."
In traditional hero's tales, the hero is given magic rings or amulets or swords that bestow power on him from without. But when I listen to the tales of modern day heroines, the power, as with the ancient Aphrodite and Inanna, seems to come from within.
When she was told that she was too ugly for the film, King Kong, Meryl Streep had an epiphany...
"This one rogue opinion could derail my dreams of becoming an actress or force me to pull myself up by the boot straps and believe in myself. I took a deep breath and said, 'I'm sorry you think I'm too ugly for your film but you're just one opinion in a sea of thousands and I'm off to find a kinder tide."
Today she has multiple Academy Awards.
In many ways, heroic public figures like Streep, Oprah and Lauder - as well as the plucky heroines of novels from Jane Austen to J.K. Rowling, as well as memoirists such as Anaïs Nin who wrote "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage," find satisfaction in their ongoing inner battles rather than their outer exploits.
And the victory is not of the man born in the rush of the dragon's blood, but of the woman in the blood, sweat and tears she herself has shed to finally become whole.
Best Selling Author, Emmy-Nominated Producer, Screenwriter and Entrepreneur, Adam Gilad leads a community of over 80,000 men and women on their quest to create love and a bold, inspired life. Having served as a Stanford Humanities Center Graduate Research Fellow and host of National Lampoon Radio, Adam blends a bracing mix of research, humor and global wisdom traditions to help men and women break through the habits blocking their ability to open into love and freedom.