Joseph Campbell’s work has had a profound influence on me and on my life. The Hero’s Journey are the steps that a mythical hero must take in order to complete the path to their purpose.

There is no pain-free path… and it must be “chosen sacrifice” if it is to lead you towards self belief. You can’t just accumulate externally imposed suffering and hope… you have to decide to follow the path of the hero.

The Hero’s Journey

“The Hero With a Thousand Faces” is a journey through myths from all over the world. Myths are stories that have been handed down from generation to generation over hundreds and thousands of years. Joseph Campbell shares myths from the ancient Egyptians, the Romans, Hindu and Buddhist legends of the east, and the folk-tales and foundation myths of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

The book explores common themes that define the world’s myths. While our cultures differ, they structure their stories in similar ways. This template is what is known as the hero’s journey. 

The 3 themes and the 17 specific steps along the Hero’s Journey are described below.

Call to Adverture

1. The call to adventure: Something, or someone, interrupts the hero’s familiar life to present a problem, threat, or opportunity.
2. Refusal of the call: Unwilling to step out of their comfort zone or face their fear, the hero initially hesitates to embark on this journey.
3. Supernatural aid: A mentor figure gives the hero the tools and inspiration they need to accept the call to adventure.
4. Crossing the threshold: The hero embarks on their quest.
5. Belly of the whale: The hero crosses the point of no return, and encounters their first major obstacle.

Trials of the Hero

6. The road of trials: The hero must go through a series of tests or ordeals to begin his transformation. Often, the hero fails at least one of these tests.
7. The meeting with the goddess: The hero meets one or more allies, who pick him up and help him continue his journey.
8. Woman as temptress: The hero is tempted to abandon or stray from his quest. Traditionally, this temptation is a love interest, but it can manifest itself in other forms as well, including fame or wealth.
9. Atonement with the father: The hero confronts the reason for his journey, facing his doubts and fears and the powers that rule his life. This is a major turning point in the story: every prior step has brought the hero here, and every step forward stems from this moment.
10. Apotheosis: As a result of this confrontation, the hero gains a profound understanding of their purpose or skill. Armed with this new ability, the hero prepares for the most difficult part of the adventure.
11. The ultimate boon: The hero achieves the goal he set out to accomplish, fulfilling the call that inspired his journey in the first place.

Return of the Hero

12. Refusal of the return: If the hero’s journey has been victorious, he may be reluctant to return to the ordinary world of his prior life.
13. The magic flight: The hero must escape with the object of his quest, evading those who would reclaim it.
14. Rescue from without: Mirroring the meeting with the goddess, the hero receives help from a guide or rescuer in order to make it home.
15. The crossing of the return threshold: The hero makes a successful return to the ordinary world.
16. Master of two worlds: We see the hero achieve a balance between who he was before his journey and who he is now. Often, this means balancing the material world with the spiritual enlightenment he’s gained.
17. Freedom to live: We leave the hero at peace with his life.

What is a Story?

This is a video from a few years back where I simplified the hero journey structure into 7 steps:

If you liked this post you will also like What is Mentorship? and Living a Purpose driven life.

“You can’t free anybody else and you can’t serve anybody else unless you free yourself” 

Nelson Mandela

You are not an accident.  You are a singular piece in the giant jigsaw puzzle that is this world.  This jigsaw puzzle is not a 50 piece puzzle, nor a 250 piece puzzle…  it is a 7 billion piece puzzle.  I find it frustrating when my daughter and I put together a 50 piece puzzle and find that there are only 49 pieces.  We can’t finish the game.  The great puzzle needs your piece.  Whatever you are given, you need to pass it on with integrity, humility and generosity.

You are not a Cog in a Machine.  Photo: iansand
You are not a Cog in a Machine. Photo: iansand

The greatest anger is the anger at ourselves for not living up to what we know we are capable of.  Hell is not after death, hell is the moment before death when a human being looks back on all the wasted potential.

“What you can be, you must be” Abraham Maslow.

Honestly expressing yourself.

The greatest gift you can give to those around you is your own shining self belief and glorious sense of meaning in what you do.  If you don’t have it, only you can do the work to get it.  If you have it, only you can keep doing what it takes to keep it.

The opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy.  Love is not easy.  Love is hard.  Doing the work that needs to get done, overcoming the devil in me that avoids the work is the course of love.  Allowing the resistance, the procrastination to win is the course of apathy.  Apathy leads to self-hate, which builds to resentment and then is shared with others in bitterness and cruelty.

The 3 Escuses

The Resistance

Stephen Pressfield speaks powerfully about the Resistance. It is a force within each of us that stops us from doing the work that really matters.

The 3 big voices of my personal resistance are:

  1. Comparison
  2. Pointlessness
  3. Fear

The Last 5% is the Hard Part

Starting is easy.  There are no prizes for starting the marathon.  You get the medal for finishing. Most people I know are good at starting.  Few people I know are good at finishing.

The closer you get to the end, the stronger the Resistance grows.

“An artist never finishes a work, he abandons it.”

Pablo Picasso

Here are a few of many ways I bring these voices into my life to procrastinate and avoid finishing important work.

  1. They won’t let me
  2. I am too young
  3. I am too old
  4. I am only one person
  5. I don’t know enough
  6. I am not a guru
  7. This could be embarrassing
  8. This will be embarrassing
  9. This is too touchy-feely
  10. I won’t get paid for this
  11. This isn’t business stuff
  12. I have to finish the things I have already started
  13. Seth Godin has already said it better than I can
  14. I’ll do it tomorrow/later/after this coffee
  15. Who am I to think I know something special about this?
  16. I’ve got plenty of time next week
  17. I’ve got plenty of time this year
  18. I’ll do it this summer
  19. I’ll do it after the summer
  20. I need to do a little bit more research
  21. Who’s going to read this anyway?
  22. [¡¡¡ insert your own excuse here 😉 !!!!]

That’s just 21…  I have many, many more…

I’ve been reading a few books recommended by my readers and youtube watchers since my recent video review of The Surrender Experiment 4 weeks ago.  A wonderful author that I was recommended is Dr David Hawkins.  He was a psychotherapist who worked over 50 years with patients in all stages of conscious functioning.

In this post, I share some of the powerful words that I have taken from David, and then I share his scale from 1-1000 of Consciousness.  Have a look and see where you believe you are on this scale.

Over to Dr David…

If you’re not happy here and now, you will not be happy there and then.

“Like the sun, the inner Self is always shining, but because of negative clouds, we do not experience it. It is not necessary to program oneself with the truth; it is only necessary to remove that which is false. The removal of the clouds from the sky to illuminate the negative allows one to experience the energy fields of that which is positive. It is only the removal of the negative that is necessary-the willingness to let go of the habits of negative thinking. The removal of the obstacles to the experiencing of this will result in an increasing sense of aliveness and a joy of one’s own existence.”

There is a Buddhist story that man starts clean, but as he starts to walk, the dirt from the road sticks to him.  The further he walks the more he is covered by layer upon layer of dirt.  After a short time we can no longer see the man underneath the dirt.  In fact the man himself has forgotten that this surface of dirt is not actually him.  We don’t need to find something new outside us to move up the levels of consciousness…

U2 has a song “Get out of your Own Way”.  What many of us need is to get out of our own way, to stop sabotaging ourselves.

How to Be that Person that People want to Know

“The way to become that exciting person whom people want to know is very easy. We simply picture the kind of person we want to be and surrender all the negative feelings and blocks that prevent us from being that.”

“Write down all your faults. Write down all the faults others think you have, even if you think they’re liars. You take responsibility for it all. If you own it all, nobody has any way to attack you. If others attack you, it’s because you’re not owning something. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with being stupid and ugly. (Laughter). So we admit our faults, and we stop labeling them faults. We have to get over narcissistic sensitivity. All negative reactions are not caused from outside; it’s how we choose. The way to become bulletproof is to own anything that seems a fault. The way to overcome the ego’s reaction to that is to say, “I’m stupid and ugly. It doesn’t matter; God loves me.”

What you resist, persists.

“The willingness to forgive others is reflected in our own capacity for self-forgiveness and acceptance.”

“Surrender is a constant process of not resisting or clinging to the moment but instead, continuously turning it over to God. The attention is thus focused on the process of letting go and not on the content of the ‘what’ that is being surrendered.”

Humility is the greatest virtue.

“With humility one can see that the mind is limited and incapable of seeing all the circumstances surrounding any event. Out of this arises the willingness to let go of condemnation and judgment.”

Personal Growth: The 15 Levels

The Levels of Consciousness (From Apathy to Love)

These levels determine the reason why people behave the way they do.
You can listen to Dr David Hawkins being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, or watch the video below where he speaks specifically about the Scale of Consciousness:

 

Below Courage – Conscious States that Suck Energy from the World

  • Guilt 30 – I condemn others. I blame outside forces for my situation. The emotion that accompanies these levels is self-hatred, and the process going on in consciousness is one of self-destruction.
  • Apathy 50 – Abdication of my own capacity to act. I am hopeless.  I cannot change the situation and I don’t believe that anyone else is able to help me.
  • Grief 75 – I am despondent and feel that life is tragic. There is an energy in grief that can turn towards anger and begin action.
  • Fear 100 – A state of anxiety and worry.  A state of withdrawal from the world.  I take actions to protect myself and to resist losing the things that I value.
  • Desire 125 – I crave after things that I believe are missing in my life.  I am quite active in pursuit of my goals.
  • Anger 150 – Anger in the form of resentment may lead to hatred.  But the process going on in consciousness is one of expansion; for example, when an animal is angry, it swells up. When the cat gets angry, its tail swells up to almost twice its normal size, and the cat tries to look imposing. The biological purpose of expansion is to intimidate one’s apparent enemy. The energy of anger can be positive if used to pursue something better, allowing us to move up to the next level.
  • Pride 175 – This level of consciousness leads to a constant defense of my being ‘right’, so others must be wrong.  Highly demanding of myself and of all others around me.  High risk of scorn of others.  The pride relates to an underlying denied set of  fears. 

Above Courage – Conscious States that Contribute Positively

  • Courage 200 – I take ownership of my situation and begin to take tentative steps to make my situation better.
  • Neutrality 250 – The emotion of Neutral is self-trust. For example, it is ‘okay’ if you get the job and ‘okay’ if you don’t.
  • Willingness 310 – saying yes to life, to join, to agree, to commit, and to align with because there is now the introduction of intention.
  • Acceptance 350 – Realising and owning my own limitations. I don’t have to please everybody, I don’t have to be competent at all tasks.
  • Reason 400 – At its purest level, reason and the intellect represent increased reality testing and non-emotional respect for truth.
  • Love 500 – reason is of the mind (the brain), whereas Love is of the being (the heart).
    At its emergence, love is selective and conditional, but as it evolves, it progressively becomes a lifestyle and a way of relating to all life.
  • Joy 540 –  A state of bliss. Life is Perfect. These people make us feel more alive because they are constantly giving out energy to the world.
  • Peace 600 – I need to find someone who could explain this in words!

Thank you to all those watchers and readers who have recommended books, videos and audios after my post on The Surrender Experiment 😉

This is a post shared by Glenn Street on facebook. He attended Date with Destiny with Tony Robbins last week.

Some “Tonyisms” compiled by Zeke Abraham at Date With Destiny last week.

“I challenge you to make your life a masterpiece. I challenge you to join the ranks of those people who live what they teach, who walk their talk.”
– Tony Robbins

TONYism’s

  • Complexity is the enemy of execution.
  • You can only build on success, you can’t build on failure.
  • Our culture reinforces blame of others.
  • Words have a biochemical effect on the body
  • Stress is a code word for FEAR.
  • Stress doesn’t come from the facts, stress comes from the meaning we give the facts. When you come up with a new meaning, you get a new life.
  • Three decisions that we all make, control each moment of our lives:
    1. What to focus on
    2. What things mean
    3. What to do in spite of the challenges that may appear.
  • We are suffering so much because we are overlooking the gifts around us.
  • Trade expectation for appreciation and our whole life changes in an instant. ~Because~
    • You can’t feel grateful and fearful at the same time. Or
    • You can’t feel grateful and angry at the same time.
  • When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears
  • Celebration releases stress, it lifts your mood, motivates you, and lastly, it gives you energy. Not only physically, but it gives you energy for life
  • When you adopt an attitude of gratitude celebrating for no good reason, is a good enough reason.
  • The Past does not equal the Future. Biography does not equal Destiny.
  • Our culture wants you to be one thing — to keep you simple.
  • 6 human needs , each can be met constructively or destructively:
    • 1. Certainty
    • 2. Uncertainty / Variety
    • 3. Significance
    • 4. Love / Connection
    • 5. Growth
    • 6. Contribution
  • People will give up their goals, dreams and values to meet their needs
  • Anytime your mind perceives that doing something, feeling something, or believing something meets three of your needs; it becomes an addiction.
  • A Strategy is a system of producing a consistent result.
  • Faith is freedom.
  • A belief is a feeling of certainty about what something means.
  • There is a way beyond the way you’ve been programmed and that’s to program YOURSELF.
  • People who succeed long term live on pull not push.
  • If you don’t like the answers, ask better questions.
  • Life is happening FOR me not TO me.
  • Proximity is power.
  • Who you spend time with is who you become.
  • People’s lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group.
  • Only 3 things hold you back in business:
    • 1. Failure to anticipate
    • 2. Lack of follow through
    • 3. Our own psychology and mindset
  • Leaders are READERS: Minimum 30 minutes a day. (A book! NOT a fluff piece, social media or magazine or infographic.)
  • Necessity is the mother of invention
  • It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.
  • In life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know.
  • Knowing is not enough! You must take action.
  • Knowledge is not power…it’s potential power. Execution will trump knowledge any day.
  • Information is potential power—execution trumps information every time.
  • Emotion is created by motion
  • CHANGE YOUR STATE! (PHYSIOLOGY)
  • Where focus goes, energy flows (THOUGHT = ENERGY)
  • I am a force for good!
  • Step up!
  • DEFY THE ODDS!
  • Say YES!
  • Make your move!
  • If you want to change your life, raise your standards, change your SHOULD’s into MUST’s
  • If you want to take the island, you gotta burn the freakin boats
  • We all get what we tolerate.
  • The secret to LIVING is GIVING
  • Losers react, winners anticipate
  • If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten
  • The path of least resistance will never make you proud.
  • Progress = happiness
  • If we don’t grow we die
  • People are rewarded in public for what they do in private
  • Most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in a decade
  • Life’s reward system is not fair. We don’t get rewards that are equal to efforts.
    • Good Effort = ZERO REWARDS
    • Great Effort = Good Rewards
    • Excellent Effort =Great Rewards
    • + ADD ONLY 2mm more effort
    • Outstanding Effort = EXCELLENT Rewards
  • If you treat people at the end of the relationship like you did at the beginning, there won’t be an end.
  • What stops us all from moving forward is FEAR: The two primary fears that we all share are:
    • 1. the fear that we’re not enough, and therefore
    • 2. the fear that we won’t be loved
  • The only thing that’s keeping you from getting what you want is the story you keep telling yourself.
  • Whenever you are happy with something in your life, it is because right now, the conditions of your life match your blueprint, or your belief about how life should be in that particular area. When you suffer, that is a signal for you to look at your blueprint. You have two options:
    • 1. Either change your life, that is, do something to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
    • 2. Or if you can’t change your life, change your blueprint.
  • The quality of your life is equal to the quality of your relationships.
  • Bottom line, If you’re not happy in your relationship, you aren’t happy (period)
  • Prime yourself daily – if you don’t have 10 minutes, you don’t have a life:
  • Healing | Solve | Strengthen | Celebrate | Serve
  • Discipline weighs ounces regret weighs tons

Learn more about Tony Robbins.

If you liked this list of Tonyism’s, you will probably like my own list of 158 Conorisms – The Complete Guide to Personal Habits or my earliest “viral” post 17 Daily Habits for a Fulfilling Life.

Originally shared by my friend Glenn:

“The only thing that matters is what you choose to be now”
Po from Kung Fu Panda

The number 2 film on my “all time most watched” list is Kung Fu Panda 2.  It was my daughter’s favourite during many of our travels together over the last decade.  It is a film that had something for a young girl and something for her father.

We begin with Po, the Kung Fu Panda, frustrated with his life and feeling lost.  Over the course of 90 minutes, Po learns to accept who he is and find inner peace.

Any guesses on the film I have watched most in my entire life?  Check out this comment on the blog post for the answer!

“The people in the market for boring are spoiled for choice” Rich Mulholland

“All the good shit is reserved for those who put their hands up.” Rich Mulholland

All the good stuff is just beyond the rejection, the looking like a fool, the bad first impression, the being laughed at…  if you censor yourself, you close off access to the good stuff.

Here’s Rich Mulholland’s Passion Direct via Video…

I am a fan of Rich Mulholland. He shares passion, some f**-bombs and some great personal stories as he tells you to take the risk that you know you need to take but are waiting for a better moment. The lesson: that moment will never come.

Let’s celebrate fall-forward risks, let’s celebrate epic fails and people who test the limits. A little bit of self-delusion and self-belief might just lead you to create your dream.

Keep Up with Rich

You should follow Rich on his YouTube Channel the Get Rich Quick show.

Here’s a video of me hanging out with Rich at the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Global Leadership Conference:

Status Anxiety is a much bigger issue today than at any time in history.

The self-help gurus have sold us on the idea that each of us individually has the power to succeed or fail within us.  If I read “Awaken the Power within” I will find my power and inevitable achieve riches.  If I read it, and I am not rich by Friday…  I am a loser.

17th Century: Nobody Expected to Become An Aristocrat

Nobody in the time of Louis XIV thought that if they just worked a little smarter that they could be as rich as Louis.  Today we see Bill Gates in jeans and a tshirt and it feels like if I had a garage and worked hard I too could become a billionaire.

It is probably as likely to become a billionaire as it was to accidentally switch places with Louis XIV…  but we don’t feel it… and so we have enormous anxiety over the fact that we ourselves haven’t got a billion in the bank.

Driven By Status, Not Money

Economists give a vision of us that we are rational actors almost entirely driven by money.

Alain de Botton
Alain de Botton

According to Alain de Botton, the truth of it is that we are far more hungry for status than we are for money.  It tends to be that well paid jobs come with lots of status, and poorly paid jobs are very low status.  If you were paid €100K for cleaning plates in McDonalds – the lack of status would still make the job tiring.  Research says that only about 10% of the population who are not bothered in any way by their perceived status in society.

Career snobbery is a major feature of modern life:  “What do you do?”, a positive answer… conversation; a non-status job…  hmm, is that the time…  I need to refill my drink.

A Ferrari is not just a fast car, it is an object that confers some degree of honour on the owner.  People are a little nicer to you when you show up at a party in a Ferrari than when you arrive on a bicycle.

“Every time a friend of mine does well, a little piece of me dies” George Bernard Shaw

Download The Podcast

Listen to the podcast with Alain de Botton, (go to episode 76).

Or the full documentary on Status Anxiety

Psychologist Martin Seligman explained that there are three ways in which our internal beliefs or narratives  become damaging: we make them personal, pervasive, and permanent.

Personal: I failed, so I must be a failure

Pervasive: I failed in this instance, so I’ll probably fail in every instance.

Permanent: I failed once, so I’ll probably fail always

When something goes wrong, watch how you speak to yourself.  Be careful of the words “never” and “always”.  A failure is a single instance of particular context and a particular version of your past self – taken positively, each failure makes you a better version of yourself.

It is not what happens that makes life hard, it is the perspective we chose to take on what is happening.  We can chose which questions we ask ourself.  If I ask myself “Why am I such a loser?”, my brain happily provides a long list of good answers.  If I ask myself “What would I change next time?”, my brain engages in a more positive search for answers.

The only true failure is to let one setback stop you completely.  You are not your current situation, you are the fullness of the journey that you will complete over your lifetime.

A mountaineer is not a failure when they are at base camp and only a success when at the summit.

On Psychologically Resilient Self-Talk:

  1. 10 Habits of Resilient People
  2. All Life demands Struggle

Creative Indifference

DSCN3223
My daughter checking the roses in my parent’s garden

A good gardener creates the conditions for growth of a garden, but cannot force the flowers to grow in an exact way.  The good gardener creates the conditions and accepts what arises.

The bad gardener fights what arises.  The bad gardener hacks and chops and fights against the natural growth of nature.

The good gardener changes the conditions and different plant shapes and varieties arise.

In each case the attitude of the gardener is “Interesting!  I wouldn’t have expected that.”  Creative indifference as a gardener is a deep curiosity, and an openness to delight in the million and one ways that nature can arise.

Good Teaching as Good Gardening

I want to teach more as a gardener than as a sculptor.

Up to now I often find that I am trying to remake a participant into my image of what she could be – I am metaphorically hacking off bits of stone and adding bits of paint.

A good gardener allows the plant to grow in its own unique way.  Nature is difference.  Nature is no straight lines, no leaf exactly like any other leaf, no flower exactly like any other flower.

I want to focus more on creating the conditions for growth in the classroom, during the breaks, during the lunches… that would allow the participants to grow in their own individual way – and have less fixed ideas about how each individual will use those conditions.  I want to be willing to allow the person to become who he is to become, rather than my ideal of what he could be.

This is a request for your experience.  I want your help.

Yesterday, I came across an interview with Ryan Avery, 2012 World Champion of Public Speaking on the blog of Paul Sohn: How to Speak Like a World Champion of Public Speaking.

Ryan Avery. At age 25, Ryan is the youngest World Champion of Public Speaking in history. He currently works as the Director of Marketing and Communications at Special Olympics Oregon.
Ryan Avery. At age 25, Ryan is the youngest World Champion of Public Speaking in history. He currently works as the Director of Marketing and Communications at Special Olympics Oregon.

The question that really struck me and has left me deep in thought for the last 24 hours is this:

“What is the hardest thing that you ever had to work for?”

Ryan said that a friend asked him this question and the fact that he could not answer it made him change.  He became World Champion of Public Speaking because of the question.

What is your answer?  Is it clear?

Personally, I don’t have a clear answer.

I have been reflecting on school, university, MBA; on 8 years of work at Accenture; on 1 year travelling with a backpack around Asia and Latin America; on 12 years building companies as a entrepreneur; on teaching; on 8 years of being a parent…  and I am not sure I have a clear answer.

My reflection is that I want to have a clear answer on my 50th birthday.  I want to know that there was something that I was willing to sacrifice for and that I chose to do the work consistently; in the good and in the tough times.

This weekend, I am on a 3 day course with Dr John DeMartini called “Master Planning for Life”.  I aim to have an answer on Sunday night.

My Questions for You, Reader:

I would love your help.  I learn so much from listening to other’s experiences.  I would welcome comments or emails direct to me conor (at) conorneill.com with your experiences, reflections and perspectives:

  • What is the hardest thing you have had to work for?
  • When did you know that you were committed to achieving it?
  • How did you overcome the loss of passion, the doubts as you worked through the project?
  • What is something you are working on now that is big, hard and meaningful (but your choice!  not your boss, company, family… you personally chose this project)

Thank you.