The Hero’s Journey

Can you remember your favourite fairy tale or story from your childhood? What was it about that story that made it special for you? How is that story relevant to you now? I frequently ask these questions to coaching clients, and the results are often remarkable.

The idea of the hero's journey comes from the work of Joseph Campbell in the 1940’s. A professor of comparative mythology, he found that through the ages, myths and stories from all over the globe had the same basic structure (the Monomyth). This structure is still being followed in the entertainment industry today - George Lucas credits Campbell as a major influence in the writing of Star Wars and films as diverse as the Lion King, the Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, The Matrix and Rocky all follow the same pattern.

So what is the reason for the universal appeal of these stories? Well the fact is, all these stories are OUR story, they come out of our collective unconscious. They inform us about our own journey of growth, change and development. Even better than that, they give us a map which we can follow when life seems challenging or we want to bring about a change.

The fact that we all already have the blueprint makes the Hero’s Journey a great coaching and personal development framework.

What are the basic stages in the hero's journey? You might experience it in the following way:

  • You receive the CALL TO ADVENTURE, you are aware something is not right or that something needs to change.

  • You are reluctant at first to do anything

  • You are encouraged by a mentor and you develop new skills and resources – you commit to making change happen

  • You are tested - You face up to the challenge and you are rewarded

  • You feel like a new person as a result of the experience – you are transformed

  • You share your success with others

Ask yourself – what is the adventure you are being called upon to take? This could be anything from changing career, giving a presentation, doing something for the first time, having a difficult conversation, or overcoming a fear. How are you resisting? What new learning, skills, teachers or support do you need to take the first step? What will be the benefits of taking that step and answering the call to adventure?...

In my session at the 2018 NLP International Conference, we will look at how the framework can be used in a coaching context, as well as how NLP tools and techniques can be employed at each stage of the journey in order to facilitate change.

By Melanie Richens