Personal Transformation – A hero’s inner journey

A Personal Insight/Story from Chill’s Leadership Challenge.

We’re so honoured to share one of our team’s personal inner journey’s of growth, challenges, and learnings. Her story describes the typical adventure of the archetype known as the Hero, the person who goes out and achieves great deeds.

The Hero’s Journey is a pattern of narrative identified by the American scholar Joseph Campbell that appears in drama, storytelling, myth, religious ritual, and psychological development.

It’s stages are:  (No names are mentioned to protect the identity of the person)


The Ordinary World

Some kind of polarity in the hero’s life is pulling in different directions and causing stress.

The Call to Adventure


Something shakes up the situation, either from external pressures or from something rising up from deep within, so the hero must face the beginnings of change. The hero is presented with a problem, challenge or adventure.

Chiller: “In the months starting at Chill, I have experienced some of the most testing and hardest
times I have had to face in my life so far.  Both personally and career related. In the past I would have retreated back into myself, worry and stress overtaking me with a lot of time wasted by letting auto pilot (self) take the wheel.” 

Refusal to the Call

The hero feels the fear of the unknown and tries to turn away from the adventure.

Chiller: “This lead to self doubt, less attention to detail and created a lot more issues in the long run.  I didn’t feel like I was achieving, just swimming against the current. Life and work kind of just happened I was in a cycle of reaction instead of proaction.” 

Meeting with the Mentor

The hero reaches within to a source of courage and wisdom. Alternatively, the hero comes across a seasoned traveler of the worlds who gives him or her training, equipment, or advice that will help on the journey. 

Chiller: “The beginning of the leadership challenge came to me just as I was looking to make the changes within myself, to stop letting life just happen and try to break old habits both with work and life.  I had already begun my own personal journey, trying to stop and reflect on old habits and thought patterns that no longer serve me within my life.  So I started with reflection time and meditation.” 

Crossing the Threshold  


The hero commits to leaving the Ordinary World and entering a new region or condition with unfamiliar rules and values.

Chhiller: “For me personally the things that I have taken away from the leadership challenge is the stop and reflect moments, or white space.  Having the opportunity to do the Clifton Strengths Finder really opened my eyes to how others saw me and how I saw myself.  The strengths that I struggled to acknowledge or see in myself were always there, I just had to harness them.” 

Tests, Allies and Enemies  

The hero is tested and sorts out allegiances in the Special World.

Chiller: “In the past I would constantly be looking ahead to my next task, and not giving my full attention to what I was actually doing at the time, this led my stress levels to rise, affecting myself and those around me.  By adopting the simple task of planning my day, listing and prioritising my tasks, I was finding that I no longer stressed for what was to come, I could put my full attention to what I was doing, and anything that came out of the blue I could take action with a clearer head than I would have in the past.”  


The hero enters a central space in the Special World and confronts death or faces his or her greatest fear.  Out of the moment of death comes a new life.

Chiller:”One of the biggest growth periods I have seen in myself has happened in the past 2 weeks, with 2 key people absent from the office.  I set about planning, each day, knowing and understanding what was expected for each task or at least trying to look ahead and foresee challenges that may arise.  If I felt overwhelmed I would simply create a white space moment and clear my head.” 

The Reward

The hero takes possession of the treasure won by facing death.  There may be celebration, but there is also danger of losing the treasure again.

Chiller: “As the week progressed I found that I was nailing it! I even kept saying “when is the big moment going to hit when I am pulled under and loosing control of my tasks”. That time did not actually come and my stress levels were no where near where they would have been in the past, I was achieving what needed to be done and learning so much more about Chill and myself.  I could do it.” 

The Road Block 

6d6d17f269b3b5afa7ded2ff592d4e43The hero is driven to complete the adventure, leaving the Special World to be sure the treasure is brought home.

The Resurrection

At the climax, the hero is severely tested once more on the threshold of home.  He or she is purified by a last sacrifice, another moment of death and rebirth, but on a higher and more complete level.  By the hero’s action, the polarities that were in conflict at the beginning are finally resolved.

Return with the Elixir

The hero returns home or continues the journey, bearing some element of the treasure that has the power to transform the world as the hero has been transformed.

Chiller: “I now have the confidence to know that challenges are not something to be feared, they are not there to bring you down and keep you there, they’re an opportunity to shine, grow and learn.”  

(An inspirational Chiller called to her own adventure). Everyone is the hero of his or her own myth.

“We can’t enchant the world, which makes its own magic; but we can enchant ourselves by paying deep attention” Diane Ackerman: An Alchemy of Mind.

The Leadership Challenge is a personal journey of growth and transformation. It’s about accepting the Quest to journey into discovering yourself. The Call to Adventure (where the magic happens) to step outside of the ordinary world. Move through the roadblocks, overcome challenges, tests and even vanquish enemies (not literally – ie the nay sayers), approach the ordeal, overcome uncertainty and embrace your fears, to reach your reward. Which in most cases is the gift of wisdom, tenacity, perseverance, strength, confidence, achievement, acknowledgement, empowerment, self love and even magic. There is one thing for sure, you’ll be forever changed by it. And going back to the old way is not an option.

We’ve added extra material if you’re interested the concept of the Hero’s Journey for further reading.

A Practical Guide to Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces“.

One of the most influential books of the 20th century may turn out to be Joseph Campbell’s THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES.

In his study of world hero myths Campbell discovered that they are all basically the same story – retold endlessly in infinite variations.  He found that all story-telling, consciously or not, follows the ancient patterns of myth, and that all stories, from the crudest jokes to the highest flights of literature, can be understood in terms of the hero myth; the “monomyth” whose principles he lays out in the book.

The theme of the hero myth is universal, occuring in every culture, in every time; it is as infinitely varied as the human race itself; and yet its basic form remains the same, an incredibly tenacious set of elements that spring in endless repetition from the deepest reaches of the mind of man.

Campbell’s thinking runs parallel to that of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, who wrote of the “archetypes: — constantly repeating characters who occur in the dreams of all people and the myths of all cultures.

Jung suggested that these archetypes are reflection of aspects of the human mind – that our personalities divide themselves into these characters to play out the drama of our lives.

He noticed a strong correspondence between his patients’ dream or fantasy figures and the common archetypes of mythology, and he suggested that both were coming from a deeper source, in the “collective unconscious” of the human race.

The repeating characters of the hero myth such as the young hero, the wise old man or woman, the shape-shifting woman or man, and the shadowy antagonist are identical with the archetypes of the human mind, as revealed in dreams.  That’s why myths, and stories constructed on the mythological model, strike us as psychologically true.

Such stories are true models of the workings of the human mined, true maps of the psyche.  They are psychologically valid and realistic even when they portray fantastic, impossible, unreal events.

This accounts for the universal power of such stories.  Stories built on the model of the hero myth have an appeal that can be felt by everyone, because they spring from a universal source in the collective unconscious, and because they reflect  universal concerns.  They deal with the child-like but universal questions:  Who am I?  Where did I come from?  Where will I go when I die?  What is good and what is evil?  What must I do about it?  What will tomorrow be like?  Where did yesterday go?  Is there anybody else out there?

The idea imbedded in mythology and identified by Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces can be applied to understanding any human problem.  They are a great key to life as well as being a major tool for dealing more effectively with a mass audience.

If you want to understand the ideas behind the hero myth, there’s no substitute for actually reading Campbell’s book.  It’s an experience that has a way of changing people.

Campbell gives a condensed version of the basic hero myth in chapter IV, “The Keys”, of  THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES.  We’ve taken the liberty of amending the outline slightly, trying to reflect some of the common themes in movies, illustrated with examples from contemporary films.  We’re re-telling the hero myth in our own way. Every story-teller bends the myth to his or her own purpose.  That’s why the hero has a thousand faces.

(Source: Christopher Vogler).


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