Charting Steps in our JourneyIn his classic book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, American mythologist and writer, Joseph Campbell outlined common steps to the hero’s journey. These cut across cultures, times, and every society’s stories, fairy tales, novels, and movies. We’re all living in our own novel. We write a page each day of our own action adventure.

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung built much of his early to mid-20th century pioneering psychology around the idea of universal archetypes that form models of our core personality types. These include child, hero, mother, wise old man, and trickster or fox. (The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and other personality models are rooted in this work.) It’s fascinating and can be very revealing to contemplate what archetypes or roles we’re playing at different points in the various legs of our life’s journey. Sometimes our levels of courage determines how deeply we examine our mental frameworks and deal with adversity in our life.

Here’s a process to map our life journey, or many of the smaller excursions along the way. We could start by using these steps to reflect on our journey so far, and draw key lessons from them in preparation for our ongoing voyage and the unforeseeable side trips that still lie ahead.

  1. What’s My Call to Adventure/Change/Growth?
    • Crisis/Loss (health, death, financial, job, or major market/political shift)?
    • Major event (birth of children, marriage, death of loved ones, restructuring, new job)?
    • Big projects (major innovation, merger/acquisition, new home)?
    • Personal/spiritual quest?
  2. What’s my reluctance/resistance to growth/change?
  3. What are the rewards of change or costs of failing to change/grow?
  4. Who are my mentors/coaches?
  5. What are the thresholds (barriers) I need to cross?
  6. How will I keep myself positive and optimistic as I navigate negative situations?
  7. How/when will I continually assess progress and refocus?
  8. How am I visualizing my happy ending for this change?

Today we publish my April blogs in the May issue of The Leader Letter. As outlined in this issue, a career coaching conversation coincided with our recent overhaul of my LinkedIn profile. Both were reminders of the importance of stepping back periodically to review our life story so far. This can help us to plot the direction we’d like to take in our next chapter.