Finding Meaning

It is vital to have meaning and passion for your entrepreneurial endeavor. Before there is agames for the arts entrepreneurship classroom financial return on investment, passion is sometimes the only ROI. In this game, students can discover what is most meaningful to them in their lives, knowledge they can take into the ideation process of developing an entrepreneurial concept.

Learning Outcome:

  • Students prepare for the ideation process by discovering what their values are.
  • In this game, preparation for goal setting occurs.

This game is inspired by a book by Joseph Campbell called, “A Joseph Campbell Companion.”

What Do You Value Least?

First: Tear off 5 pieces of paper.

On those 5 pieces of paper, write down 5 separate things that you believe you cannot live without. Now, I do not mean air, water and food. I mean things that are deeply and personally meaningful to you. Perhaps you want to write down “My Girlfriend”,”Mom and Dad”, if that is what you feel–or perhaps a certain friend. Perhaps you might write the type of work you love, your lifestyle, etc. Whatever it is, write it down–one item for each piece of paper.

Ready? Have your 5 items?

Let’s imagine that we are walking through a great forest and we have to cross to the other joseph campbell companionside to the sunlit valley. However, as we are crossing, a big ogre appears, preventing you from going further, from going where you need to go. That ogre says, “I will let you pass, but first, you must surrender that which you value least”.

Now, go ahead and look at your items and drop one of them.

Once done, we continue on our forest journey. But…wouldn’t you know it? Another ogre appears and he says the same thing. “Surrender that which you value least”.

Go ahead.

We continue. Same thing. “Surrender that which you value least”.

Now you should have only 2 things remaining in your hand.

Surrender that which you value least.

Go ahead.

Once done, that one thing in your hand is, apparently, what you value the most.


Many students find this to be a tough game that is filled with surprises. Some may shock themselves to find that they surrender mom and dad first. They may find they value work less or more than they thought and may come to identify passions that are in line with that which they value the most.

Note if students give up the game because of guilt associated with making difficult decisions. If they struggle, remind them that entrepreneurship is a game filled with difficult decisions. Failing to play a game prohibits one from winning it. Urge them to heed this call to adventure and play the game.

Knowing what our value systems are helps us clarify our goals and intentions and can help us gain a clear sense of direction regarding what we want to build or manifest in our lives and careers. Building entrepreneurial visions that are in line with our personal meaning can lead to a passion-filled career. One needs passion when the process of entrepreneurship becomes inevitably difficult.

If you would like to use these games in your own classroom, please do! If you do, let me know how how it goes and if you have suggestions for modifying a game. 

I can be reached at 

Creative Commons License
Finding Meaning by James David Hart, based off of work by Joseph Campbell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at “A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living” by Joseph Campbell, Edited by Diane K. Osbon.


About James Hart

Jim Hart currently serves as Interim Chair of Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship & Director of Arts Entrepreneurship at Southern Methodist University, Meadows School of the Arts. Hart is also the founder of The International Theatre Academy Norway.
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