Your Hero’s Story Uncovered
The stages of your leadership journey
are predictable even if life isn’t.
“The hero’s journey has three parts: departure, initiation, and return.” Sandra Emma Shelley, Insideout Enneagram by Wendy Appel.
Part one – The Departure:
1. The Call. Early signs may be restlessness, discontent, or longing for something unknown. Great journeys always begin painfully.
2. Refusal of the Call. It takes time to summon the courage to leave. Life shrinks – pain increases – when we refuse the call.
3. Aid. Watch for and welcome guides.
4. Crossing the threshold. Getting unstuck begins with the courage to think differently.
5. The belly of the whale. Your old self dies; the new you emerges.
Part two – The initiation:
6. The road of trials. Trails are your opportunity to progressively bring out the new you born in the whale’s belly.
7. The ultimate boon. You see things as they are not as you wish them to be.
Part three – The return:
New ways of thinking become compassionate, patient living. People who suffer well arise strengthened and softened.
8. Refusal of the return. What if new patterns are rejected? Will they work?
9. Rescue. Others rise up and call you to a life of effectiveness.
10. Freedom. Living life as you are.
Journey to authenticity:
Jim Parker, former CEO of Southwest Airlines, was the first of many high profile leaders who told me, “Be yourself.” Warren Bennis put it this way, “Leadership is synonymous with becoming yourself.”
Insideout Enneagram by Wendy Appel is a new tool designed to help leaders live authentically with themselves and others. All great stories have a pattern, so does yours.
I started the hero’s journey many times but never found myself at the end of the cycle until recently.
Do you see parallels between the hero’s journey and your leadership story?
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Good reminders, Dan. For years an Enneagram trained friend and I have talked about finding deeper meaning in life. We arrived at authenticity. Be yourself, everyone else is taken!
It funny how long it takes us to realize the value of become who we are.
The Hero’s Journey is the masterful work of anthropologist Dr. Joseph Campbell expounded upon in his incredible book A Hero of a Thousand Faces. Campbell’s discovery was that all great stories across all times, cultures and languages following the identical trajectory — thus the hero’s journey.
George Lucas is a huge believer in Campbell’s work, knew him well (Campbell died some years back) and the Star Wars series uses the model beautifully.
I have been using this model for 20 years in my consulting work because it helps leaders understand what to expect when they take the journey to a whole new framework for managing an enterprise.
It helps people understand the journey ahead is a well traveled road of human learning and personal transformation — the keyway to organizational transformation.
Thanks for sharing this great model!
Great seeing you today. Thanks for pointing us to Campbell’s work. Since his work, there are several iterations of the hero’s journey. All with value. It’s fun to find a pattern in life when life so frequently seems random.
Your clients are fortunate to enjoy your insights. I sent this blog to a leader working with college students. I think the ability to see where people are helps us know how to appreciate and relate to them.
You have my best,
I love how concisely you write, and this is easily the most concise synopsis of the “hero’s journey” I’ve ever seen.
I personally believe the reason the “hero’s journey” is such an archetype in story and myth across time and cultures is because it reflects the blueprint for a human life. Each of us was born a hero. Each of us is born with a certain amount of natural aptitude for leadership, and some get more than others. But I believe we each have equal aptitude for being and becoming “ourselves,” and the journey to becoming oneself truly is a hero’s journey.
Thanks for your kind words. Encouragement is a gift.
Spotting the cycles in life help us understand life better.
You have my best,
I love, LoVe, LOVE this post! Thank you so much!
I, personally, am in the initiation phase when I compare the hero’s journey and my own leadership story. I’m coming out of trials and can see the ultimate boon!
Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement!
Thanks for being a people lifter!
Isn’t it helpful to give meaning and purpose to adversity? I’ve been seeing how adversities pull us downward into the past if we don’t press through. Oddly, it’s brokenness not strength or power that causes breakthrough.
You have my best,
I would go crazy if I thought the hard times were for naught! One of my favorite songs is by Matthew West, “Strong Enough”; one verse goes something like, when I’m finally at rock bottom, that’s when I start looking up and reaching out. You are right- when we aren’t lined up vertically, we can get pulled down in hardship. But it’s in our brokenness we find strength to overcome, and then we are able to reach out horizontally to lift those around us.
I hear you on the crazy thing. Life without purpose is meaningless… 🙂
Love the “reach out horizontally” image… beautiful
Wonderful post today. I can see myself in the different stages. Thanks for giving me something, to which I can look forward.
You’re most welcomed and best wishes.
Have to wonder how many leaders ‘fell’ into the calling and the belly of the whale and didn’t really ‘see’ they were a leader initially.
Perhaps there is a cyclic nature to the journey…or hopefully, if we are paying attention, a positive spiral.
On a personal note, the thing that most held me back, and I still feel, is the desire to please or fulfill the image others expect me to be. Resisting their desires caused me to become reactionary. It’s taking me time to stop reacting and learn to be with kindness and compassion.
Thanks for always being here my friend.
Thanks for this wonderful write up. You just confirmed and gave a clearer understanding of what am going through now. Keep it up.
Thanks for taking a minute to encourage!
A moment of clarity is a beautiful thing.
Very interesting post. I think the key part of this journey lies in getting unstuck. as soon as you change your thinking your whole life changes in accordance. It is very important for leaders to monitor their thinking and to make sure they don’t get stuck in a rut in terms of the way they think.
I liked your post and the way it laid out the journey you have to take in shouldering the responsibility of leadership. I think the key moment in this journey is when there is a change in the way you think. When you change the way you think, you can change your whole life. As leaders we need to monitor our thinking very closely to make sure we do not fall into a mental rut in our thinking.
This is officially my favourite LF post. Having just “missed” Being selected for a promotion at work…I was feeling a bit stuck, but just for a few days. I received very positive feedback from the selection committee, which made the rejection a bit more confusing. At any rate, I had many other leaders rally around me. We decided on a little next steps list…so I’m good to go again. I don’t have a lot of experience with “failure”. I have most often clinched whatever I put my mind to. This experience was humbling.
Your post helps me to identify where I am on a very predictable and known journey. This theory is completely new to me. I love how I can plot where I am and then see what is ahead. My style is to operate with the end in mind. Until today, I was using trial and error for my journey to leadership. For the record, I hate that tactic 🙂
To understand hero’s journey, you need to watch Kal Bashir’s videos at http://www.youtube.com/clickokdotcodotuk
Journey stories are all around us. Perhaps your timing of this post is just a coincidence in that the greatest journey story is playing itself out this week – Holy Week.
Outside of this example, the Odyssey is probably the most famous example of a “journey” story. We can learn so much by just realizing that what we think of as the end of our journey is really just the beginning of the 2nd half of our lives – the time after we have returned “home” and can then be our “true” selves. I’m working on getting home but it’s a struggle. I wish you all happy trails (trials?).