The Hero’s Journey

Reflect back over your life and think about the times you really learned, developed and grew as a person. The points in your life that you can look back on and say something really shifted in me then.

Your life’s story

If you fancy going into this with a bit more curiosity and intention, draw a timeline of your life and plot the significant moments. Add some comments at each point about:

  • why it was significant

  • what changed in you

  • what you learned

Now add the people who helped and influenced you at each juncture:

  • those that brought challenge

  • those that helped you through

  • those that helped pave the way for whatever came next

Difficult things

I predict that most of your significant moments were also characterised by difficult things, and perhaps even some kind of trauma. Things like making a decision to stand up for yourself, loss of a loved one, overcoming a fear, mastering a sport or musical instrument, redundancy, relationship break-up, divorce, perhaps even accidents.

Most of your successes (let’s qualify that as the things you are proud of), were hard fought. They were probably a response to a change or demand, that either life chose for you, or that you chose yourself.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

The Hero with a Thousand Faces is a work of comparative mythology by Joseph Campbell, in which the author discusses his theory about the structure of the journey of the archetypal hero, found in worlds of myth.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces presents a single narrative or ‘monomyth’ for a particular type of story. The hero’s journey is the tale that involves a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed.

You know the heroes and their journeys already. There are many, but some go by names like Star Wars, The Matrix, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Lord of the Rings.

The Hero’s journey has 12 stages but we can reduce that to eight for our purposes here. A picture paints a thousand words and so I offer this:

As an aside, people love stories and they are so powerful in relating knowledge. I have often thought if a picture paints a thousand words, a story paints a thousand pictures. Clearly 1000 is the magic number!

You may recognise the hero’s journey in your own life. It is a metaphor for how you learn, grow and develop.

You leave what is known and safe, and take on a challenge. There is a point where it gets tough, but it’s too late, you can’t go back. Guides, mentors and coaches appear and help you through. You learn something deeper about yourself and become ‘bigger’, with more to offer.

You have journeyed through the unknown and have mastered something new. This new knowledge is now available to others through you. What was unknown, becomes known. The journey starts again.

Let’s do something with it – The Hero’s Journey

  • Think about a journey you are currently on (you decide the scale of it)

  • Referencing The Hero’s Journey diagram, identify where you are on the journey right now

  • What, or who could help you progress on the journey, or make it easier?

  • What might you need to face up to?

  • What are you learning?

  • How might that new learning help others?

  • What are you noticing about the known, the unknown, and your development?

  • Does seeing this and plotting your story give you more faith, belief and trust?

  • Does it have you feeling safer about uncertainty?


  • Do this with a friend, family member, or colleague. Simply take a turn each at asking the questions, listen, and offer any insights at the end.

Often, we think events are happening TO us, and we end up seeing them as happening FOR us. I wonder if Coronavirus is one of them.



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Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

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