Tool: Hero’s Journey – mapping where you are in
your life’s journey
In 1949 Joseph Campbell wrote a book, The Hero
with a Thousand Faces, about the similarity
of myths across cultures and times. It states that
most stories have the same components, which he
entitled the ‘monomyth’. It can be used as
a framework for writing stories or for looking at
your own journey through life – which is what is
useful for today’s leaders.
The Hero’s Journey is a tool for reflection, to
help you step outside of your own life for a moment
and assess where you are and where you would like
to go from here. Good leaders spend time in reflection
– they look at whether or not they need course correction
and how much.
Your Lifeline – your own Hero’s Journey
In this exercise you tell the story of your life
by drawing a line, including the highs/lows and
choices that you made or that were imposed upon
you. It is an opportunity for you to gain some understanding
of your life so far and reflect upon the decisions
you made and the meaning that you give to the events
in your life. It may also help to identify when
you first recognised your leadership attributes,
and became aware of being a leader.
Draw the line to reflect significant high and low
points and use different colours to mark significant
choices that you have made (green) or events
that happened to you (red). This is for you
and there is no right or wrong way to do it. When
you have finished, look at the line and ask yourself
any or all of the following:
- Of what are you most proud?
- What is the best learning you had?
- What is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition);
that which makes you distinctive?
- When did you feel most alive, enthusiastic and
- What events were particularly significant?
- What values shaped your lifeline?
- How have events from your life shaped your values?
- What recurring themes or patterns do you notice?
- How has your behaviour shifted over time?
- How has learning shaped your lifeline?
- Have you been active or passive in shaping your
- What have you learned about yourself
The Hero’s Journey
Campbell describes some seventeen stages or steps
along this journey. Very few myths contain all seventeen
stages — some myths contain many of the stages,
while others contain only a few; some myths may
have as a focus only one of the stages, while other
myths may deal with the stages in a somewhat different
These seventeen stages may be organized in a number
of ways, including division into three sections:
Departure (sometimes called Separation),
Initiation, and Return. "Departure"
deals with the hero's life ‘adventure’ prior to
the quest; "Initiation" deals with the hero's many
adventures along the way; and "Return" deals with
the hero's return home with knowledge and powers
acquired on the journey
Campbell says: “A hero ventures forth from the world
of common day into a region of supernatural wonder:
fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive
victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious
adventure with the power to bestow boons on his
Now look at your life line and see how parts of
it may fit into the Hero’s Journey. Think how your
own leadership experience has manifested itself
and matured. In italics, I share how one of my adventures
– the adventure of learning to do the work I do,
working with organisations – played itself out in
- The Call to Adventure
The call to adventure is the point in a hero’s life
where he or she is first realises (or in some stories,
is given notice by someone else) that everything
is going to change, whether they know it or not.
Can you find this on your lifeline? - I started
my education in medical school because I had an
early interest in healing.
- Refusal of the Call
Often when the call is received, the future hero
refuses to acknowledge it or ignores it. This may
be from a sense of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity,
a sense of inadequacy, or any of a range of reasons
that work to hold the person in his or her current
circumstances. Might you see something like this
in your lifeline? How did you feel at the time?
Were you aware of this? – After a few years,
I changed direction. It didn’t feel right, so I
did a first degree with a double major: Quantitative
Methods so I could get a good job and Botany so
I could have something I adored as part of my studies.
I followed it with Engineering. Then got my first
job in Informatics which continued for another 12
- Supernatural Aid
Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously
or sub-consciously, his or her guide/ magical helper
appears. Did you find that you had a teacher or
interesting learning point at this time in your
lifeline? - After 12 years as a programmer, analyst
and finally project manager, my mentor (who was
our MD) suggested I take on a dual role of line
manager for a group of programmers and personnel
- The Crossing of the First Threshold
This is the point where the hero actually crosses
into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits
of his or her world and venturing into an unknown
and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are
not known – definitely outside their comfort zone
-. – I thought about it for awhile, then agreed,
not knowing what I was getting myself into. It was
my first line management position as well and the
first time I was a part of a senior management team.;
To say that I did everything wrong was understatement!
But I certainly learned.
- The Belly of the Whale
This is the final separation from the hero's known
world and self. It can feel like one’s lowest point,
but it is actually the point when one is between
or transitioning between worlds and selves. The
separation has been made between the old world and
old self and the potential for a new world/self.
By entering this stage, the person shows their willingness
to undergo a metamorphosis, to die to him or herself.
- The Road of Trials
The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks,
or ordeals that one must undergo to begin the transformation.
Often the hero fails one or more of these tests,
which often occur in threes. –it took some time
to find out what I really wanted to do and how it
would all work. Eventually I left the IT company
to work for myself in training and development and
then finally working with groups and organisations.
- The Meeting with the Goddess
The meeting with the goddess represents the point
in the adventure when the person experiences a love
that has the power and significance of an all-powerful,
all encompassing, unconditional love. It may take
place entirely within the person. In other words,
the person begins to see him or herself in a non-dualistic,
non-judgemental way, accepting all of themselves.
– for me this was when I realised that in order
to be the best I could be in my job, I would need
more self awareness and more self leadership, so
I began a journey of getting to know – and more
importantly accept – all of myself.
- Woman as the Temptress
At one level, this step is about those temptations
that may lead the hero to abandon or stray from
his or her quest, which does not necessarily have
to be represented by a woman.
- Atonement with the Father
One confronts and is initiated by whatever holds
the ultimate power in one’s life. This is the central
point of the journey. For the transformation to
take place, one must be "killed" so that the new
self can arise.
To apotheosize is to deify. When one dies to the
self to live in spirit, he or she moves beyond pairs
of opposites to a state of divine knowledge, love,
compassion and bliss. It is a period of rest, peace
and fulfilment before the hero begins the return
journey. –This happened for me as I began to
assimilate the learning from the development courses
I took and the work I was doing..
- The Ultimate Boon
The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal
of the quest. It is what the hero went on the journey
- Refusal of the Return
So why come back to normal life with all its cares
and woes after such glorious adventure?
- The Magic Flight
Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon, if
it is something that the gods have been jealously
guarding. Regardless, it can be just as adventurous
and dangerous returning from the journey as it was
to go on it. –I often struggled to come back
to ‘real’ life after a course and to know how to
integrate what I had experienced and learned with
who I am on a day-to-day basis. I didn't
dare to show the spiritual side of myself,
fearing that it was 'not professional' in some
- Rescue from Without
Just as the hero may need guides and assistants
to set out on the quest, often times he or she must
have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them
back to everyday life, especially if the person
has been wounded or weakened by the experience.
My teachers helped me to settle into being who
I am and who I needed to be. After many
different experiences I accepted that healing –
making things whole - is a part of who I am and
makes it possible for
me to integrate and be all that I am. What this
means for my work and my leadership is helping those
I work with (organisations or people) be the best
that they can be. It is part of my life purpose
to provide the antidote for toxicity in organisations
- The Crossing of the Return Threshold
The hero must retain the wisdom gained on the quest,
to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and
then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with
the rest of the world.
- Master of the Two Worlds
For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance
between the material and spiritual. The person has
become comfortable and competent in both the inner
and outer worlds.
- Freedom to Live
Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death,
which in turn is the freedom to live - living in
the moment, neither anticipating the future nor
regretting the past. –it is now so much a part
of me that I don’t think about it – it is what and
who I am. I consider each and every situation from
several angles, but always from the angle of ‘what
does it need to make this situation whole?’ I am
most grateful to be able to do so.
� Patricia Lustig, 2009
Problem Solving 101
By Ken Watanabe
Portfolio, Penguin Group, 2009
Written by an ex-McKinsey consultant and translated
from Japanese, this book means to be a first course
on problem solving and explains in clear and simple
terms how to go about it. This may sound like something
we all know how to do, but it is useful to have
a reminder and to have a structure. Although I have
worked with problem solving in groups for over 20
years, I still found some tools that were useful
and that I didn’t remember or had not known. It
was originally a book teaching children how to solve
problems and that is certainly evident. However,
it is no less useful for that and is a quick and
Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
By Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras
Random House Business Books, 1997 (Tenth Anniversary
While doing background research for the book I am
currently writing with my SAMI Consulting colleagues
(see News, below), I re-visited Built to Last.
This book inspired me even more than the next book
Collins wrote (Good to Great) because of its emphasis
on Core ideology being central to an organisation’s
ability to survive in today’s turbulent times. By
Core Ideology, he means Core Values and Purpose
plus Vision. To my mind, backed up by my experience,
this is indeed key to an organisation that can succeed
and survive in these times.
The organisations that will survive (and are surviving)
in the long term are those who look to building
the organisation and focus on what they are
here to do, rather than profit first and foremost.
This is not to say that profits aren’t important,
rather that to be successful, something else should
come first. Something inspiring that makes people
want to get out of bed in the morning.
The authors say that to be ‘built to last you must
be built to change,’ but you must be clear on what
can change (such as business processes, what you
produce and sell and so on) and what cannot – your
Core Values and Purpose.
They go on to talk about a set of skills and tools
that will help an organisation to become what they
call a visionary organisation. Using memorable headings
No ‘Tyranny of the OR’; More than Profits; Preserve
the Core/ Stimulate Progress; Big Hairy Audacious
Goals; Cult-Like Cultures; Try a Lot of Stuff and
Keep What Works; Home-Grown Management; Good Enough
Never Is; The End of the Beginning and Building
Vision, the authors provide us with much food for
thought. Well worth a read.
Twitter for Business Use
You must have heard of Twitter, it is the latest
social networking fad. You probably know that it
is micro blogging i.e. logging what you are up to
and telling the world via the web (or at least anybody
that will follow you). Is it a waste of time?
No, because there are good business reasons why
you use it.
Firstly if you are already a keen tweeter and you
tweet on your personal, everyday life you should
consider getting a new account for business.
Twitter users have 140 characters to answer the
question, “What are you doing?” When you join Twitter
you can “follow” other people on twitter (tweeps),
which causes their updates to appear on your home
page as well as theirs. In turn, they can follow
you. You can also directly message them if you follow
them and they you, but always in 140 characters
Once you are registered on Twitter it is important
to set a professional profile that represents your
business. It is an important piece of marketing
so spend some time on it, also include a photo and
a link to your website.
On your home page you will see all your tweets and
all tweets of those who you follow. Once you
get into tweeting and you follow a few tweeps, your
Twitter home page can get a bit crowded and confusing.
To the rescue comes a desktop application to help
you organise the tweets, for example TweetDeck,
Twhirl and Journotwit. They allow you to make groups
of tweeps whose tweets you especially want to see,
so you don’t have to read everyone’s tweet.
They also allow you to see your Direct Messages
(DM – private tweets) and tweets in which your username
has come up all in one table. I haven’t tried
them all but Twhirl seems to be the most popular,
judging by the commentators. You could ask tweeps
which one they recommend and why when you start
Who do you follow? Use tweet search to search profiles,
or to find people in your area of business and if
they look interesting follow them. Or use other
search tools (for instance on TweetDeck) to search
tweet contents. Follow people with knowledge in
your area and like-minded people. It is quite normal
to follow someone who starts following you but I
recommend that you first check the sort of tweets
they post. I don’t want to follow someone who is
continually selling themselves for instance; I am
interested in those who are open to sharing knowledge
How is Twitter useful? First and foremost it is
a knowledge tool from which you can get quick answers
to your questions. From those you follow you can
glean new discoveries, like good relevant websites,
techniques etc which you can then share with your
followers. In addition, you can research your potential
clients too, including making a first contact through
How do you to get people to follow you? Get your
profile right, follow people who interest you and
tweet useful tweets – contribute. You could add
tweet feeds (ie your tweets) to your social networking
sites (like Facebook - it gets your tweets noticed).
Finally reply to people who respond to you, RT (Re-Tweet
which means to forward a tweet to your followers)
or follow you.
The secret is to participate regularly and make
a contribution. To do that, set aside a
particular time to do it each day with a limit perhaps or
it may become too time consuming. It does
grow on you! Always respect others in your
tweets. Most importantly contribute and do not over
� PMLustig 2009
Latest News from LASA
- Tricia is participating in a Henley
Knowledge Management Forum research project on
social networking, a. o. Twitter (see Tech
- Tricia signed a book contract with Wiley - together
with SAMI Consulting colleagues CEO Gill Ringland
and Oliver Sparrow - on ‘After the Crisis’
which will be out February 2010.
- Through SAMI Consulting Tricia was invited to
travel to Warsaw to work with Frontex (The EU Border
Control) on: “Scenarios on the future of illegal
immigration and the current economic situation.”
- Tricia is running a session at the Resurgence
Weekend Camp using Open Space methodology for working
with large groups.
- Tricia has published an article on Action Learning
in The Journal of Action Learning, written together
with Deep Ranjani Rai.
- Nic has worked with ICM, Mosaic and HE@Work,
ensuring their systems are maintained at optimum
- Nic is re-designing the C4B website, (local
business networking group) to promote increased
- Tristan continues his work for SeeksAdmin in
the USA, doing business development for them.
A hero is someone who understands the responsibility
that comes with his freedom. ~ Bob Dylan
A hero is someone who has given his or her life
to something bigger than oneself. ~ Joseph Campbell
A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength
to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming
obstacles. ~ Christopher Reeve
Aspire rather to be a hero than merely appear one
~ Baltasar Gracian
The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams
of being an honest coward, like everyone else. ~
A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he
is braver five minutes longer. ~ Ralph Waldo
A hero is a man who does what he can. ~ Romain Rolland
The youth, intoxicated with his admiration of a
hero, fails to see that it is only a projection
of his own soul, which he admires. ~ Ralph
I’m a hero with a coward’s legs. ~ Spike Milligan
The hero is one who kindles a great light in the
world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets
of life for men to see by. ~ Felix Adler
To be a hero or a heroine, one must give an order
to oneself. ~ Simone Weil
One must think like a hero to behave like a merely
decent human being. ~ May Sarton
A hero is a man who is afraid to run away. ~ English
What it takes to be a hero, a little gem of innocence
inside that that makes you want to believe that
there still exists a right and a wrong, that decency
will somehow triumph in the end. ~ Lise Hand
The hero draws inspiration from the virtue of his
ancestors. ~ Johann Wolfgang van Goethe
The Marine and President Bush
One sunny day in January, 2009 an old man approached
the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue,
where he'd been sitting on a park bench. He spoke
to the U.S. Marine standing guard and said, "I would
like to go in and meet with President Bush."
The Marine looked at the man and said, "Sir, Mr.
Bush is no longer president and no longer resides
The old man said, "Okay", and walked away.
The following day, the same man approached the White
House and said to the same Marine, "I would like
to go in and meet with President Bush."
The Marine again told the man, "Sir, as I said yesterday,
Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides
The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.
The third day, the same man approached the White
House and spoke to the very same U.S. Marine, saying
"I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."
The Marine, understandably agitated at this point,
looked at the man and said, "Sir, this is the third
day in a row you have been here asking to speak
to Mr. Bush. I've told you already that Mr.
Bush is no longer the president and no longer resides
here. Don't you understand?"
The old man looked at the Marine and said, "Oh,
I understand. I just love hearing it."
If this interests you, there are other interesting
resources on the LASA Insight website so why
not take a look by going to
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