(Editor’s Note: For part 2 of this blog post, please go here)
A story well told transports the listener to a different time, place and plane. It captivates emotions and provides an exciting trajectory of experiences full of hope, struggle, uncertainty and surprise! Stories show us how to live life.
Stories help us lead.
Leadership stories have been told for centuries in the form of heroic myths and legends. When noted mythology professor Joseph Campbell was researching the timeless stories of heroism found in all cultures, he found similar themes and patterns that he characterized as the Hero’s Journey. I often use Campbell’s Hero’s Journey framework to help people craft their own powerful leadership stories.
Your Hero’s Journey is the story of the future you seek come true—your vision realized.
It addresses your experience as the leader as well as the experiences of others—allies, enemies, mentors, and detractors—in the pursuit of your goals, your mighty cause. It provides your team with the complete picture (full of substance, sizzle, and soul!) of what you want to make happen while engaging their hearts and minds. It gives them something to invest in.
There are six phases of the Hero’s Journey:
The Threshold Crossing
The Supreme Ordeal
The Return Home
In this post, I will discuss the first three phases and provide questions to help you articulate your role as the hero of your own Lead Positive Hero’s Journey.
Remember: You are casting yourself in the role of Hero not because you are suffering from hubris. You are the protagonist because you are the one instigating the journey. You are the one with the vision. Others will surely contribute, and some will be essential to the quest, but you are the one who has heard The Call first.
The first milestone in the Hero’s Journey is “The Call.” It is the time when the leader-hero gets clear about how his goals relate to his deepest desires and values, and most importantly, to his sense of purpose, his mighty cause, his “call.” The leader’s internal assets are put front and center to strengthen his commitment and determination to see the entire change effort through.
- How did I come to realize the need for change?
- How do I know that I am no longer willing to accept things as they are?
- How do I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I believe in this effort and this cause?
Normally, we think of resistance as applying to followers. In this case, the resistance is coming internally from the leader-hero. Every leader on a mission is faced with questions, self-doubt and the greatest of all fears—the fear of the unknown.
Leaders overcome their own resistance by reaching out for support and feedback on their strengths and capabilities, as well as the benefits of achieving their goals. Once leaders are shown how to leverage their own strengths to achieve their goals, the anxiety and the resistance goes away.
- How come I am fearful or hesitant about pursuing this leadership journey?
- How will I overcome my fears and hesitancies?
- How have people guided and encouraged me to take this on?
- How do I know that I am ready?
The Threshold Crossing
Once committed, the leader-hero takes concrete steps away from the way things are and toward the way things can be. Once the threshold has been crossed, there is no turning back. The new reality is palpable.
- How has the current work environment been holding others back, blocking their vision?
- How can I entice people to cross the threshold to beyond business as usual?
- How can I demonstrate my commitment and resolve?
Tune in next week to learn how to craft the second part of your Lead Positive Hero’s Journey!