One of my favorite concepts is Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. In a nutshell, he found a common thread in all of our stories. From Jesus to Luke Skywalker to the guy who delivers your mail.
Here it is in a shot glass so we can get to how to use it as a tool to coach people. Or for yourself.
What We All Have
A call to adventure.
Something in our life calls us to do something, go somewhere, execute some type of action. Maybe it’s breaking up with someone. Quitting a job. Moving to a new city. Changing careers. But it’s a call that we decide to answer.
A point where we enter the unknown.
That action throws us into a new world. Now we’re single. Now we’re finally doing something we love. Now we’re in a new city. Now we’re starting a new relationship. Now we’re starting a new career path. Now we’re a parent.
Challenges and temptations.
With every new world comes new challenges. Dealing with new people. Being alone. Making new friends. Fighting for custody. Learning how to live off a new budget. Living with someone. Showing yourself for the first time.
A chance to slay our dragon.
Now comes the thing we must overcome to be a better version of us. This is something we have probably run from most of our life. It’s what scares us the most.
Death and rebirth.
Once we slay our dragon, we are changed. Slaying our dragon can be an internal thing or an external thing but there is always an internal shift. We become someone different. A part of us dies and we are reborn.
Then coming back to the village, changed and to share our story.
Coming full circle, changed, different, a new person.
How to Use This as a Coaching Tool
1. Explain this concept to your client. It will be helpful for them to see that they’re on a journey. Most of us get stuck because we don’t see anything except what’s happening right in front of us. We’re in the trenches and can’t see anything else and don’t believe we’re going anywhere.
Describing the process of the journey, literally drawing it out on a piece of paper using their story, can inject hope. They can pull back and see light at the end of their dark tunnel. They can see that whatever they’re going through is temporary and has meaning. And that’s the powerful piece. Once they are able to find meaning in something, it’s much easier to accept, lean in, and push through.
2. Plug their story into the Hero’s Journey. Ask them where they’re at in their circle. What was their call to adventure? Or maybe it’s happening now? What is their dragon?
This is what you want to get to. They may not know. So you will need to process it with them. They may have many dragons. Remember, their dragon will always lead to an internal fear or false belief. Fear of intimacy. Fear of failure. I’m not good enough. Smart enough. Pretty enough. Talented enough. Worthy enough.
3. Ask them what it would look like to slay their dragon. What does it look like in action? What do they need to do? End a relationship? Or maybe start one? Do they need to conquer a fear? Do they need to dissolve a false belief? Overcome an addiction? Do they need to do in action to slay their dragon? Make sure they answer this question. You can give them suggestions but make sure they answer it. Not you. It’s their journey. Not yours.
4. Ask them what’s on the other side. What would happen if they slayed their dragon? How would they feel? Who would they be? How would this change ripple into all areas of their life? You want them to imagine and see what’s on the other side.
5. Ask them what’s at stake if they don’t slay the dragon? Make sure they answer it, not just think about it. You want your client to say it out loud. There is tremendous power in announcing something. As a coach, these are all doors open for more conversation and processing.
As you take them through their Hero’s Journey and as they answer the questions, what’s created is their “treatment” or action plan.
Now all you have to do is support them and make them accountable.
Also, know that we can have a Hero’s Journey every day. Especially the internal ones. Our dragon can be speaking up at work, finally getting into the gym, eating better, confronting someone who has hurt us.
We are all on a journey. Each and every day. There is a circle, a cycle, a process.
Once we realize this, we see that life isn’t just a spinning dryer of turbulence.
It will help us pick up our sword.
And embark on our journey.
Knowing there is a better us on the other side.