Lessons On The Hero’s Journey
How principles from The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell can teach us to be better teachers, life coaches, parents, and people of integrity.
In the hero’s journey, an individual rises to a calling, undergoes a series of challenges and experiences extraordinary transformations.
As life coaches we know that life is an ongoing and transformational journey through which we realize our greatest dreams and take action to attain them.
One of my very favorite authors, Joseph Campbell, dedicated his life to studying comparative mythology and writing about the archetypal hero’s journey. In one of his most powerful texts, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Campbell explores the 17 stages of hero’s journey.
As life coaches, there’s a lot to be learned by taking a closer look at some of these stages!
The hero’s journey involves building discipline, persevering, and seeing goals through to attain an ultimate dream.
And once you’re familiar with the hero’s journey, you’ll see it everywhere!
Many of the greatest films and stories of all time depict a hero’s journey:
- Star Wars
- Harry Potter
- The Lord of the Rings
- The Lion King
- The Matrix
- The Wizard of Oz
- even Robocop!
The Hero’s Journey is Universal
Joseph Campbell, a master scholar and writer on the process of personal transformation, writes about 17 steps of the hero’s journey, a universal, archetypal journey (commonly depicted in film and literature) that an individual takes in their lifetime, through which challenges are faced and major changes are made.
The process of becoming a life coach itself could be considered a hero’s journey, and understanding each step can give us insight on how to be a better life coach and how to best assist our clients on their own transformational journeys.
There are 3 stages of the hero’s journey: departure, initiation, and return
We’ll be looking at 4 key steps for each stage.
So over the next year, we’ll be going over 12 of the 17 steps in the hero’s journey and discussing the wisdom we can take away from each.
You may want to bookmark this page so you can come back to it as we take another step along the hero’s journey.
The first stage of the hero’s journey is what Joseph Campbell describes as “the call to adventure.” This stage is all about finding and realizing your dream. During the call to adventure stage, your routine, day-to-day life gets shaken up in some way. You’re going about your life as you always have, and then suddenly, a new piece of information or opportunity presents itself to you. Perhaps this is what happened when you first heard about life coaching! Where were you in life when the possibility of becoming a life coach presented itself to you? Do you remember that feeling of something stirring within you as you contemplated taking this new path? The call to adventure is an event that ignites a spark in you, that beckons you to step through a new or different doorway into the unknown.
What happens during the “supernatural aid” stage in the hero’s journey? The hero’s journey entails an individual rising to a calling, undergoing a series of challenges as they pursue a goal, and experiencing extraordinary life transformations. This journey involves building discipline, persevering and seeing goals through to attain an ultimate dream. In this supernatural aid stage of the journey, once the hero has accepted their call to action and has begun their journey, a supernatural figure presents itself to the hero. This figure offers some form of guidance, protection and support as the hero rises to their destiny.
At the “crossing the threshold” stage, the hero makes a formal commitment to the journey and actually begins the process of something new. It’s at this stage of the hero’s journey where your client leaves the familiarity and safety of their former world behind. You can frame it for your clients this way: a door is a threshold between two rooms or places, so when a client “crosses the threshold” they have officially stepped through the door of opportunity into a new place. Crossing a threshold is a very exciting stage in the hero’s journey – it requires your client taking the inspiration, intuition and clarity developed thus far, and taking a bold step forward into the unknown in the direction of their dreams.
- Belly of the Whale
The “belly of the whale” stage in the hero’s journey is the true beginning of your client’s metamorphosis. At this point in the hero’s journey, your client has begun a new endeavor and is in the process of a dramatic paradigm shift. This is a totally new world for him or her! This period of time can feel uncomfortable or challenging at times. Your client may start to feel fear, doubt or uncertainty about their next steps, and in some cases even be tempted to give up on their dreams. A great way to think about this stage of the journey is that the “new world” your coaching clients find themselves in is actually a new way of thinking about the world. And the good news is that, with the help of your coaching, your clients can re-pattern their thoughts and habits so that they feel more self-confidence as they navigate through these uncharted waters and move toward a freer, fuller, happier life they love living.
- The Road of Trials
- The Meeting With the Goddess
- The Ultimate Boon
- The Magic Flight
- The Crossing of the Return Threshold
- Master of Two Worlds
- Freedom to Live