Sunday, September 11, 2011

Every Worker, A Hero!

Work is challenging and we all are the hero in our respective work roles though we rarely think so. For years I have been a fan of Joseph Campbell, the famed mythologist, and his theory of The Hero’s Journey. The Hero’s journey identified a pattern of progressive stages in cultural myths and stories which is fairly applicable to every life, career, job and project. This cycle is seen in epic lives and stories we all know like that of Jesus, Moses, Buddha, Prometheus, Oriris, Luke Skywalker of Star Wars, Frodo of Lord of the Rings, and even ourselves if we observe closely enough.

In the Hero’s Journey, which is divided in to three phases of departure, initiation and return:

1. The hero is leading an ordinary life when circumstances take a turn which call the hero to a quest.

2. Initially the hero is hesitant to accept the quest but alas does not resist.

3. On starting the quest, the hero finds mentors and helpers along the way to advise and assist.

4. As a part of the quest the hero faces ordeals and obstacles. The hero also discovers powers, within and without themselves, some resident and others obtained along the way which enable triumph.

5. By and by, with patient persistence, the hero wins the object of the quest along with the experience and benefit of overcome ordeals and newly discovered and obtained powers.

6. The quest object obtained, the hero is faced with a decision of whether they will return to the ordinary world they lived in before the quest began to bless the community with the experience, powers and questions object they have obtained. And so the cycle starts over again.

With reflection, we could all identify that at any given time, we ourselves are in some stage of this hero cycle in every areas of our lives, careers and jobs.

I have always found this reflection helpful as stories and myth are how human cultures makes sense of chaos whether in the form of success or failure, ease of difficulty, blessing or curse.

Seeing myself as the hero in my own life, career and job, I continually recognize quests I am called to, mentors and helpers given to aid me, ordeals and obstacles, powers and experience I am given to develop during my quest, and the decision and obligation to continually reinvest the fruit of my quests back into the communities I am a part of.

Seeing this cycle is the path all heroes have tread both humbles and encourages me as I see that as they have triumphed in the their circumstances so can I as I patiently and persistently make good use of every resource and opportunity every quest presents. Reflecting on the hero's journey also lends context and perspective to my present challenges and difficulties and reminds me that this too will pass, both success and learning, and that my job as hero is to be committed to and prepared for every next stage of this cycle.

So, shall I encourage us all to reflect on how we are all heroes on our respective life and career journeys and how the world relies upon and is blessed when we step us to the hero's potential in ourselves.