It has been a busy summer of high performance – in particular the Tokyo Olympics. There were 2 interviews with athletes that really struck me for the perspectives they were taking towards their performance and results. The video below shares these two healthy mental approaches to life.
Pressure vs Stress
The first interview was with US swimmer Caleb Dressel. The journalist asked how he coped with the pressure. His answer “Pressure… there is nothing wrong with pressure… there is something wrong with stress” (just after winning gold in 100m freestyle.)
Performance vs Results
The second interview was with GB rower Helen Glover. She had retired… and then came out of retirement to train for the Tokyo Olympics. She and her partner had just finished 4th in the final. The journalist said “you must be so disappointed to finish 4th… so close… but no medal. Helen’s answer “this was our best performance. I am extremely happy with our performance today. We were close to a personal best.” Her performance is under her control… the results of the race depend on other factors.
These two interviews reminded me that I have been distracted recently and paying more attention to (and worrying more about) results, not focussing on my own daily contribution.
Pressure is a good thing, it helps us grow. Stress is not.
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:
This video is from Bilbao in front of the Guggenheim Museum. I was in Bilbao for the launch of Vistage in the region.
In my courses I often have participants who hate following standard processes. Sometimes this is a good thing. When you decide to break the rules, you better do your homework and preparation so that what you deliver is excellent. Too often, “creative” people break the rules of structure… but don’t do the necessary work to be excellent in delivery.
“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!
I was in Belfast this week to celebrate my father’s birthday and spend some time with our relations in the north of Ireland.
My great uncle Jim is 94 years old. He has always been a great teller of stories. This is a story I remember hearing from Jim years ago. It is about why a barber shop thrived in a street where several brand name hairdressers had been unable to survive.
Genetically we differ 2% from chimpanzees and 3% from worms. Our big difference is the cortex, the upper layer of the brain. The cortex is the home of imagination.
Imagination gives us the choice to live intentionally. We can make a choice: lead a life that is not just response to stimuli, but building towards a vision: an imagined future.
Why is imagination so important?
A leader sees a future that is not yet here. This requires imagination. The clearer you can see and touch and feel this potential future the more compellingly you can communicate it to others.
Imagination is what makes us human. 2,300 years ago in the Greek city-state of Athens, Aristotle asked himself “what is the purpose of human life?” Aristotle defined the purpose of an object as being that which it can uniquely do. A human is alive – but plants are also alive – so that cannot be human purpose. A human feels – but animals also feel – so that cannot be human purpose. The unique gift of humanity is reason, the ability to solve problems in the mind, to imagine.
How can you develop your imagination? The video below shares a tool that Jim Collins uses to develop his power of Imagination.
What is the underlying structure of your life? What habits are made easy because of the layout of your home, your office, the friends you hang out with? How might you change the structure of your life in order to make certain positive habits more likely to happen?
Our surroundings affect us more than our intention and our discipline.
This is a great summary video of a book that had a great impact on me back when I was 23 years old. I was working for Accenture (in those days, Andersen Consulting) and the organisation shared this book with all employees. There’s a photo there of me there on the right with my leather bound edition of the book.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of the most influential books in self-development.
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