THE HERO’S JOURNEY – part 1

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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.

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THE FOUR CORNERS OF HAPPINESS

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TOUCHING THE FOUR CORNERS OF HAPPINESS

Imagine a square and its four corners. The idea is to touch each activity or component at least once a day and observe what effects this new habit has on your day. If you touch all four of them you will have a sense of accomplishment, self-confidence and simply feel good about your day. On the contrary, if you are having an off day and feel overwhelmed or sad, or just like it was not a day to brag about, you will notice that you did not touch all four corners. The key is to “own” this new habit, which takes some practice. It helps to put a reminder to touch the Four Corners in a place that you frequently visit, maybe your desktop, your fridge or your bedside table.

1st corner: Making progress towards a goal.

Notice how it is not about checking off a goal but acknowledging progress made towards something important to you. You can break up your goals into milestones, or you can use the “rule of three” by setting three realistic goals for your day. We all know that perfectionism is just another definition of insanity but inadvertently we become unrealistic about our daily goals.

Look at your calendar, see what’s happening today and make a plan that can work. And if it does not, analyze the cause; what distracted or derailed you and how can you learn from it?

2nd corner: Connecting with people you love and inspire you.

People who inspire you are like a warm ray of sunshine – they lift your mood, they make you more self-confident, the world just feels better. It can be the minimum wage worker who opens the doors to your favorite coffee shop early in the morning and always smiles at you, it can be a colleague who brings energy to a boring meeting. It can be a child playing in the rain with that pure self-absorption only little ones carry. Actively connecting with them rather than standing by will release some of their energy on you.

Picking up the phone or sending an email to someone you love but never make time to talk to is just as important. Saying thanks to a person or an organization that helped you, or writing a review for someone who did. Do not just think about them but actually do it.

One of the most successful management consultants, Marshall Goldsmith makes it one of his daily habits to say thanks to someone from his past.

3rd corner: Making a contribution.

This one can be connected to the other two but is also a goal in itself. Whatever you are passionate about in the world, make a contribution towards it – the environment, improving people’s lives or simply making someone’s day by helping out or listening.

Once again, this does not have to take up a lot of time. Being aware of it and pro-actively seeking out the opportunity to contribute is all it takes.

4th corner: Self care

Now this is a hard one for many people. While the 1st three fall neatly within our goals and acceptable things to do, self-care does not. If you have ever experienced putting on your exercise clothes in the morning and never made it to the gym or out on the trail because other stuff took longer than expected you know what I mean.

BIG mistake. By engaging in the activities and experiences that you love you become more energized, better able to handle stressful situations and serve the people you love. Whether this means to exercise, meditate or sit and watch the birds, it is like taking your car for a tune up.

Just recently, one of my clients told me how she survived a very confrontational business meeting because she had made the time to run on the trail earlier in the morning. Even more so, after the meeting the head of the group came up to her and invited her to explore more opportunities with them because she showed such amazing grace in the eye of a storm.

Let me underline this with a quote from the Dalai Lama: “I meditate every day except when I get busy then I do it twice as long.”