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.

The 3 areas you can mess up if you are to fail at Leading yourself and others:

  1. Relationships
  2. Self Awareness
  3. Openness to Change

Check out the video below to understand what it means to not mess up on relationships, self awareness and openness to change.

What is Leadership?

An effective leader is a person who:

  1. Creates an Inspiring Vision.
  2. Motivates People towards the Vision.
  3. Executes on the Vision.
  4. Builds a team to Achieve the Vision.

Read about how to do each of these 4 steps: What is Leadership?

If you liked this post, you will also like A truly compelling vision and 17 Personal Habits for a Fulfilling Life.

“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!

Self-discipline is the foundational habit that makes all other good habits possible.

Self Discipline

What is self discipline?

It is the ability to do a chosen action even when you don’t feel like it.

Anyone can do the action when they feel like it.  It is the ability to do it when you don’t feel like it that really marks the difference between having a large positive impact in the world or just dribbling away all your days.

Photo Credit: Matt Champlin via Compfight cc
A peaceful picture of a bench, a tree and some tranquil water. Seems appropriate.

All habits are developed by repetition. If you repeat something bad for you, it will become a habit. If you repeat something good for you, it will become a habit.

Resolve to stick through the important tasks that you chose to start.  As you repeatedly finish what you start, it will become more and more natural to you.  Blogging was hard for me at the beginning, but now I know I will publish within 20 minutes of starting a post (I am coming up to 500 posts out there on this blog and other online resources such as forbes, lifehack, IESE, Active Garage, slideshare, venturebeat, venture village)

Three Step Guide for Better Productive Days

Here is a morning guide for being intentionally productive:

  1. Write down the top 5 most important tasks
  2. Pick the #1 most important task.
  3. Work on it until it is done. (THE HARD BIT!)

If you aren’t thinking of an important bigger picture, you will be distracted by easy interruptions.  It is hard to stay the course when you don’t feel like it.  Your life gets better when you get better.  Your leadership gets better when your habits get better.  Facebook, email, twitter are so instantly addictive that I will be distracted by them every day that I am not working on something that is of importance to me.

All important success comes from finishing projects.  If you get better at finishing, you get better at life.  Do the projects today that the “you” of tomorrow will be thankful for.

Start and complete a task every morning before anything else.  Dandapani taught me to start by making my bed first thing in the morning.  I start by reminding myself that I finish what I start (and making the bed is not so difficult).

Further Resources

Photo:

Tranquil bench and lake photo credit: Matt Champlin 

Time after time I see promising young athletes reach the professional teams, and they don’t make it.  Time and time again I see someone do well in the good times, but then allow one small setback to avalanche into a total personal, business and financial collapse.

Other times someone struggles through the youth ranks, shows no extreme talent, but when they reach the professional team they excel.  Or, a friend uses a small personal crisis to multiply their productivity across all aspects of their life.

What differentiates those that cope with those that do not?

Resilience: Mental Toughness

How do you cope with setbacks?  How do you deal with the blows that life deals you?

Photo Credit: ecstaticist
Photo Credit: ecstaticist

The 5 levels of Resilience

The five levels of individual Resiliency are:

  1. Able to maintain emotional stability
  2. Able to focus outward: Good problem solving skills
  3. Able to focus inward: Strong inner “selfs”, self-belief
  4. Deliberately practiced procedural habits
  5. Be Water my Friend

Resilience Means Adapting to Adversity

Resilience is the ability to roll with the punches. When stress, adversity or trauma strikes, you still experience anger, grief and pain, but you’re able to keep functioning — both physically and mentally. Resilience isn’t about ignoring it, stoic acceptance or lonely heroics. In fact, being able to reach out to others for support is a key component of being resilient.

Resilience and Mental Health

Resilience offers protection from many mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Resilience can also help offset factors that increase the risk of mental health conditions, such as lack of social support, being bullied or previous trauma.

9 Tips to improve your Resilience

If you’d like to become more resilient, consider these tips:

  • Make every day Meaningful – Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose every day. Set goals to help you look toward the future with meaning.
  • Get Connected – Building strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends can provide you with needed support and acceptance in both good times and bad.
  • Write it Down – Think back on how you’ve coped with hardships in the past. You might write about past experiences in a journal to help you identify behavior patterns.
  • Maintain Hope – You can’t change what’s happened in the past, but you can always look toward the future. Accepting and even anticipating change makes it easier to adapt and view new challenges with less anxiety.
  • Take care of your Health – Include physical activity in your day. Find a night time pattern that allows for good sleep. Eat consciously.
  • Be Proactive. Eat the frog first.
  • Playfulness and Pause. Rest your mind and let it wander through imagined worlds. Mindful imagination can reduce stress (and it improves your immune system).  Play games and act like a kid.  YouTube videos about Goats Shouting Like Humans are stupid, but they do make me laugh insanely.
  • Embrace Creativity Regularly. Participation in music and dance, can have a significant effect in building resilience.
  • Use Procedural Skills –  take advantage of the “procedural learning” part of your brain. Keep practicing the skills you’ve mastered by repetition – like playing piano, ping-pong or drawing pictures. Rote-learned information is what school focussed on – but today it’s all Google-able.  Forget it.  Focus on your procedural skills. These should be exercised and enhanced every day.

Resources: