Newsletter No. 16 July 2009

Welcome to summer – a true British one judging by the rain outside my window! But let’s be positive and hope the sun returns soon.

We’ve had lots of feedback on our last newsletter on Abundance, for which many thanks. It is heartening to know that so many of us share this win/win view of working and living.

At the heart of our work at LASA is leadership. Part of being a leader is about being self aware. In this newsletter we share an exercise to help you to see where you are on your life’s journey, comparing it to The Hero’s Journey. It can be an incredibly insightful tool. Using it once a year can also help you to reflect on your journey, not just where you’ve been, but also where you choose to go next.

In this issue:

Best wishes from the LASA Team

Latest thinking

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 energetic? Why?
  • 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 life?
  • What have you learned about yourself

Example Journey

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 order.

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 [1].

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 fellow man.”

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 my life.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 years.
  3. 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 manager.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Apotheosis
    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..
  6. The Ultimate Boon
    The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the hero went on the journey to seek.
  1. Refusal of the Return
    So why come back to normal life with all its cares and woes after such glorious adventure?
  2. 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 way.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

Latest Books

Problem Solving 101

By Ken Watanabe
Portfolio, Penguin Group, 2009
111 pp.

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 easy read.

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

By Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras
Random House Business Books, 1997 (Tenth Anniversary Edition)
342 pp.

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 such as

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.

Tech Corner

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 or less.

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 out.

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 and ideas.

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 your tweets.

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 promote yourself.

Interesting Links

Herb Paris flower
Poole waterfront
� 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 corner below).
  • 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 Nepal 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 levels.
  • Nic is re-designing the C4B website, (local business networking group) to promote increased membership.
  • 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. ~ Umberto Eco

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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 Waldo Emerson

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 proverb

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

Joke corner

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 here."

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 here."

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."

LASA Website

If this interests you, there are other interesting resources on the LASA Insight website so why not take a look by going to

Comments and Feedback

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@ LASA InsightLtd 2009