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What's Your Hero's Journey?

While the idea of heroic leadership isn't one I generally support, there's still something we can learn from epic storytelling.

Have you ever heard a story like this before?

A lonely hero who is frustrated takes a sudden and unexpected journey. At the start we see the promise of adventure and peril. On the journey they meet tests of character, strength, and skill. There is a dramatic battle that tests the hero’s resolve – will they give up? No, they find what they are looking for (inside themselves). It closes with a triumphant return home.

Of course you have heard this story, because this is the narrative arc of thousands of Hollywood and Bollywood screenplays. It's also the basis of ancient myths like Homer's Odyssey.

There are lots of ways writers try and break down and copy this structure. Sometimes there can be as many as 17 steps including, finding an elixir. But in the simplest form, there are 3 steps:

  • Departure

  • Initiation

  • Return

So, why am I telling you this? Well, part of the coaching process is to explore the stories we tell ourselves to see if they serve us. And, if they don't, to see if we can reframe them in a way that gives us strength. The hero's journey can be a powerful way to do that. I'd like you to try it now:

  1. Bring to mind a big frustration you have at the moment. Something you regret, something you are enduring, or something you hope for but haven't attained.

  2. Now check in with yourself, your feelings and thoughts. Are they serving you? (I will assume that, since they are frustrations, they do not.)

  3. If you are feeling regret, can you see it as the departure point of a new story? Is this the piece of learning that triggers your quest to find yourself?

  4. Are you going through something tough at the moment? Can you understand that as an initiation? A test that is showing you what you are made of?

  5. Finally, can you picture a dramatic return, battle scarred but smiling and content. How will that look? How will it feel? What will you see?

By imagining ourselves as a hero who is challenged but who will ultimately succeed, we can find new stories to tell ourselves. Stories full of adventure, growth and learning. And through those stories we can move forward.

But, notice one crucial thing. In the hero's journey, the destination is always the same. It is a returning to the self. What looks like an outward journey, is really an inward journey. A journey of self-discovery.

In other words, you are already a hero. You just need to see it. 🦸‍♀️🦸‍♂️

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