My mentor Steve Mitten introduced me to the teachings of Joseph Campbell. Campbell was an American mythologist and professor at Sarah Lawrence College who made a lifelong study of mythology, religion and myth, in cultures all over the world. Campbell is perhaps best known from being interviewed by Bill Moyers in the PBS special titled “The Power of Myth”.
From his lifetime of studies Campbell came up with the concept of the Hero’s Journey, as an archetypal pattern reflecting some of the most predictable stages of change present in the sacred teaching stories in all cultures.
The work of the Hero’s Journey rise out of the observation that the principal journeys we take in life follow a timeless theme. There are recognizable stages, important thresholds, natural consequences, mysterious forces and extraordinary outcomes.
In a typical Hero’s Journey, the hero (or heroine) gets called to an adventure, and must overcome their reluctance and many obstacles along the way. Fortunately, they can also run into helpers who can support and encourage them. Eventually they end up facing their principal ordeal, which is a challenge they cannot overcome being who they currently are. The Hero must transcend or grow beyond their current limits, doubts and fears to move forward. This always involves going within, and bringing forth the treasure, strengths or gifts there.
Once the hero finds the way to bring forth their best, the principal ordeal is resolved, and they can move on to complete their journey.
Inevitably, the hero succeeds and returns wiser and more fully alive.
The Hero’s Journey is exactly what everyone embarks on who wants to make a significant change in his or her life. It is not easy to make changes and here is why: we are hard wired to maintain the status quo. The 2nd oldest part of our brain is the emotional brain and its main job is to do what is known and safe. This is quite useful when you drive home without thinking about the route or find your socks in the closet. But when you have rationally decided that it is time to change something, the emotional brain is not your friend.
Here is an interesting fact: only one in seven people will make a change they rationally want.
Based on a study by Harvard professor Robert Keegan we now understand how hard it is to make lasting changes. Check out this video for a quick introduction to his work “Immunity to Change”.
If you work with an ICF certified coach, you stand a much better chance to become the one in seven to make a lasting change than trying on your own. As a coach, I am here to assist you to develop realistic goals – no point in trying to change somebody else but focus on what is under your control – learn tools to avoid the voice of sirens luring you back to your old ways and claim the life you always wanted.
Many people ask me what made me move to India, leave a comfortable life behind, uproot my family and move to unknown shores. For starters, I thought I knew India because of previous travels but within a few days of living there I knew that was not the case. Living in a place without infra structure (yet appearing to be glitzy and fast paced), dealing with a very different mentality and culture, missing friends and clean air – it quickly came down to: what is the opportunity here?
For my teenage son, it was making his mark in a fresh social group, doing community work and growing resilient against the onslaught of daily mishaps such as no shower or electricity. My husband became a thought after public speaker and certified yoga instructor (in addition to his day job of running a 2000 people facility). For me it was letting go of a lot of baggage such as defining myself by my corporate career. I found a new career I love and discovered the joy of running my own business.
The key was to remember and honor the goals that had made us leave our home, observe what was happening and adjust course as necessary. Just the like the Hero, it was a rough ride but at times hilarious and for sure, I met some guardian angels on the way who I will never let go off, no matter how many miles or difference in upbringing separate us.
Part 2 – Meeting tricksters along the way, to be continued.