Sep 02

Stuck in the story – Walking with Heroes Part 4


So welcome to week 4 of ‘Walking with Heroes’. I hope you’re seeing some of the parallels starting to emerge in your own life as well as starting to see the themes and stories that are woven into literature, into the movies and TV shows we watch, even into songs and into fairy tales, into books and comics and more.

Next time we’re going to start looking at the characters that make up these stories – the people that we can find on our journey through life – and the people that we are and the stories that we retell through our own lives. But for now… a little more on the story.

Now, you may well be thinking ‘I live a dull boring life in suburbia – all these stories of adventures and epic heroics are nothing to do with me’. I’m not so sure.

For some of us, we are already on that journey. We’ve recognised the call to do something great with our lives. Something, somewhere has called to us and we’ve answered. That might be a call to create – perhaps to build a business or an organisation. You will have been just going through life, going through the motions – when suddenly (or not so suddenly) an idea occurs to you and a vision begins to emerge. You might well have met someone wiser than us who can mentor us – or be thrilled by the success stories of others who have gone before us. You’re on the journey.

Perhaps yours is a great romantic adventure – the call is the call to love, to care for someone. That in itself is heroic. There will be someone that you respect who will offer you wisdom – or you will model your love after someone else. There will (you know there will) be trials and tests, hard times and difficulties. There will be friends and companions to support you. There will be a ‘dark night of the soul’ for you where you weep and despair. And you will emerge from the tough times with a new strength, a new capacity to care, a new determination. And there will be something that tries to drag you back to old fears just as you are stepping out of them.

Perhaps you will find your journey in parenthood. You find yourself thrust into a new and scary journey where everything is mysterious and difficult. There will be those around you who support you – and sometimes you will feel that the world (and your children) is set against you. Again, you emerge from the journey transformed – deeper, wiser, more caring, more powerful.

You might have a vision to do something of service to others: to start some crazy global initiative that will change the planet, or something local that will benefit the local community. That vision will take you through tough times when all seems dark. It will force you to confront your own weaknesses and the weaknesses of others. You will have to fight against unexpected obstacles. Yet you will give birth to something in all of that which makes a difference – which is a gift to you and to the world.

You might not yet be on the journey… yet perhaps there is something that calls to you, some change that you know you need to make, some great initiative that you find yourself returning to time and again. You see, I know that each one of us is called to be a hero, to achieve something amazing and wonderful in this life. That might be a huge initiative on the world’s stage, or it might be something smaller, something closer to home… but the seeds of greatness are in each one of us. That call may be loud and obvious, or it may be quiet and subtle.. yet it calls to each one of us, if we let it.

I know I’ve been on this journey several times – but perhaps the most recent for me was when I decided to leave my nice safe well paid job to create a business that served people rather than technology. The call for me came in several ways: from those around me, from those I respected – both international leaders and teachers and those closer to home. It was definitely an adventure that I stepped into and chose for myself.

I learned lots on that journey – through several mentors who pointed the way, and through friends that I met on the way.

The dragon I confronted was that of personal failure.. without going into it too deeply, the business didn’t work out as I wanted it to, largely because I was thinking too small, and I found myself confronted with deep feelings of inadequacy, a sense that I had been abandoned – by those around me, by those who had the opportunity to help me, and, in the end, by God. I definitely experienced that ‘dark night of the soul’ as I walked by the river trying to work out how to move forward.

Yet I did discover new meaning and new truth in all of that – the journey grew bigger as I took time out to travel, and that became the gift, the reward – yet I knew in all of that that I was bringing something out from that experience that would benefit others – allowing me to return to the ordinary world with a gift to give… which is why I am creating this programme and others to share what I’ve learned.

Getting stuck

Now, particularly when things go wrong, we can find ourselves stuck in our own story. Somewhere along the route, our experience has left us unable to move forward, for whatever reason – and I often see this with people who are stuck and unable to move on.

For example, they might be running a story of unrequited love – there is something tragically heroic about someone who loves and yet ultimately fails to find happiness – the stories of Romeo and Juliet, for example, or the plots of any one of a hundred romantic movies where the guy fails to get his girl…or the girl fails to get her guy. If we’re stuck in that story, we’ll find ourselves continually in relationships that don’t fulfill us, or in love affairs where the love isn’t returned – because to us, that story is heroic, and we keep retelling the story with ourselves as the main character.

Or maybe we’re stuck in a story of success against all the odds – where we keep fighting setback after difficulty after disaster in pursuit of our goals. Every time we clear one obstacle out of the way, another dragon rears its ugly head. We’re locked in the drama of the story, knowing that if we were actually successful, then all the drama would go away.

(In a later part of this series, I’m going to take another look at some of the stories that shape our lives… but before that we’re going to need to meet some of the characters that we’ll encounter on the journey)

‘But what do I do if I’m stuck in the story?’, you might well ask. ‘What is it that I can do to escape this story that keeps retelling itself?’ Well, the first thing to do is to recognise that it is only a story. The only reason it exists is because you keep retelling it. We’re so vulnerable to the things we tell ourselves..’I’m too old’, ‘I’m never going to meet anyone’, ‘every time I try something new I fail’, ‘I guess I’m just plain unlucky’, ‘I’ll never get out of debt’. We keep telling ourselves these things… and yet what if they weren’t true? What if they are just things we say to keep us in the drama of life?

The only time we have is right now. The only thing that we can affect is what’s happening right now. The past is a memory, and the future is just a possibility. Neither of those things actually have any meaning right now – unless we decide that they do. I used to have a real fear of speaking in public after a minister (who should have known better) stood and ranted at me after I had taken a service in his church. I could choose to believe his comments – or I could choose to move on.

In the same way, I found myself continually stepping back to a situation that hadn’t worked out… and so I wrote a new story. I created a whole new adventure for myself – I set it in a time of knights and princesses, and chose to create a story where I travelled the world (for sure) and found a new purpose and destiny. Writing that story broke me free from the old ‘stuck’ story that I was in the middle of. Try it – it might work really well for you. (It’s actually a really good visualisation tool anyway, even for those of us who aren’t ‘stuck’ – write a screenplay of your perfect day when you achieve a goal, or when you are living the life of your dreams. Write it in detail – what are you doing, who’s there with you, what’s life like, what are you eating or drinking, where are you… every single detail.) Creating such a strong image will do two things – it’ll create something that draws you to make that true, and at a metaphysical level it will start to attract the situations and resources that will make that dream real.

We really can just drop the story. Take the lesson, learn what needs to be learned, then (and it really is this simple) move on. The only thing that stops us is when we have something invested in a decision not to move on – when it actually serves us to stay stuck. Perhaps it feels safer to stay single rather than move into a new relationship with the risks that brings. Perhaps it feels safer to say ‘I could have been great’ rather than writing that story, or singing that song – rather than creating that business, or going on that trip round the world. When would now be a good time to decide to turn the page and write a new story? Because, and you can trust me on this… there is a story that needs you to write it. There is a story that will make your heart sing, that will thrill you, excite you that will make you say ‘that’s why I am alive’. If you step into it. That story will call to you. Receive it. Take hold of it. Own it. Because it’s the reason you are here.

In conclusion

Stories are all around us. We create them and weave them, and we’re influenced by them all the time. We can use them as frameworks to create our lives, to inspire us and lead us onward…but we should never let them ensnare us and hold us back…



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PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Aug 29

The journey revealed–Walking With Heroes Part 3


Hi there! Last time we too k a look at the Hero’s Journey. There’s more to tell, so I’m going to use some movie examples to illustrate the journey – you might like to use your own movies, stories, TV programmes or fairytale, to see how the monomyth is present in different stories and legends.

So here goes…

Home ground – when we meet the hero it’s in the normal world. It might be remarkably dull and boring – or he might be getting along just fine, enjoying life and having fun, maybe even engaged in something significant. And yet the normality of his world is just a surface feature. Underneath the every day façade, a different and more magical world awaits – a world so radically different from that which our hero has experienced so far. When we discover Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, he’s on the dreary dull planet Tattooine, vapour farming with his uncle and aunt and cleaning droids. When we meet Frodo Baggins he’s at a party in the Shire, eating and drinking with his friends.

The call to adventure – something strange or unusual happens in our hero’s life. It may be that tragedy strikes – or the receipt of a strange and mysterious invitation. Perhaps some natural event changes the course of the day, or something seemingly insignificant causes the whole path of the future to shift. In ‘Sliding Doors’ a child gets in the way and causes Helen to miss her train, setting in place a whole series of different outcomes. In Star Wars Luke discovers a message from a mysterious stranger hidden in R2D2’s memory. Or it may be a realisation that there must be more to life that causes our hero to set off in search of fame and fortune, adventure and dreams.

Meeting the guide – at some point in the adventure a wiser mentor appears. Sometimes we don’t recognise the teacher at first, passing them off as irrelevant, out of touch or just plain dull. And yet something continues to attract us to that guide. Sometimes that’s a real person, and sometimes it’s an author who profoundly influences our understanding of the world. Luke, of course, met Obi Wan Kenobi. Arthur was brought face to face with the mysterious Merlin, while Frodo developed a new understanding of his long time friend Gandalf.

Refusal of the call – oftentimes we will turn away from the call when we hear it, stepping back into the world of normality, seeking to cling on to the safe, to the familiar. And yet the call will continue, insistent, pressing. Ignore it too long, perhaps, and it will fade, become familiar. Yet it will never truly be forgotten. Luke chooses to return to his uncle’s farm, convinced that ‘old Ben’ is simply crazy.

At this point we begin to pass from the known world into the unknown, stepping over (or being dragged through) the threshold of adventure. From here on in all bets are off, as we see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Confronting the dragon – at some point we meet a danger to our lives or our sanity – the dragon that guards the mysterious new realm. We can choose to flee back to the safety of our quiet little world, or we can plunge on into the unknown. Often times the dragon forces us to step into the mystical – there is no way back into the safe and secure as bridges are burned. For Luke, it’s the moment when the Imperial forces kill the only family he knows, destroying his livelihood and provoking him to seek justice.

Tests, trials and allies – the true story begins in earnest. Our hero will be tested and learn new skills, drawing on hidden resources within. There will be challenges that will forge a new inner strength and tough resolve. In the end, this is one reason for the journey – to create change in our lives. Whether that’s increasing our magical power and connection to the power that lies within, as in Luke’s case, or understanding our true determination to succeed against the odds, as Frodo found – or increasing our ability to love, whether romantically or in dedication to humanity. As we go we draw helpers to ourselves – some we recognise as true companions, while others rub us up the wrong way. Luke, of course, finds himself in a love-hate friendship with Han Solo and the wild, untameable Chewbacca. Frodo learns who his real friends are with his companion hobbits, and an unlikely collection of men, elves and dwarves – and the one who will threaten him yet ultimately save him, Gollum.

Approaching the cave – often with fear and caution, but sometimes just rushing in, our hero steps into the inner cave, the place where the supreme ordeal must be faced. This may (in myth) be the descent into hell – for Luke it is walking into the bowels of the death star. Frodo, of course, must face Mordor itself – and a series of similar challenges along the way, including the false sanctuary under Mount Moria.

The dark night of the soul – each and every hero must face this moment – the time they feel they cannot go on. When hope has been sucked out of them, and it seems that their life has become one of failure. Drawn into this mysterious new world, it seems that whichever way they turn, disaster follows. At this point the hero faces the supreme ordeal – and often times finds that the enemy they face is themselves. Luke had to face the truth that his greatest enemy was his father – and watching his mentor die at the hands of Darth Vader. Frodo continually tempted to use the power of the ring to escape – and of course facing the loss of Gandalf to the Balrog fire demon.

Seizing the treasure – discovering the reward – as the hero triumphs over ultimate evil, or over his own weaknesses and fears, he discovers a great gift – whether that be Arthur discovering Excalibur, or Frodo and friends receiving the gifts of the elves. The reward may be a new understanding that needs to be taken back to the world. Or it may be the discovery of great love, in the case of Sleeping Beauty, or Luke rescuing Leia.

The return – flushed with success, our hero begins the journey back with his prize. Yet often the challenge is not over. Our hero may elect to remain within the other world, reluctant to return to dreary normality. Or if he does make his way back, further trouble awaits. Here the great pursuit scenes follow, as the dragon seeks to regain its mastery. Luke and Han find themselves pursued by the Empire. Frodo struggles with the despair of crossing the plains toward Mordor. We find ourselves trapped within the story, unable to speak of it clearly in the world we are familiar with.

Resurrection and rebirth – emerging finally from the rigours of the journey, our hero steps back into the known world. Yet even so, this world is not as it was before. The adventures have created a new understanding – of the nature of reality, or of inner strength and gift. The companions met along the way create a new wider life, a web of friendship that opens up new worlds. The gift won at such great cost helps transform the world as we know it. For Frodo, of course, peace is restored and the shadow that has hung over Middle Earth is dispelled. Luke discovers new worlds and a family that he didn’t know – hidden in the story in the form of one of his closest companions. Our hero returns altered from the experience – in many stories our hero dies (or appears to) before resurrection – ET on the operating table, Luke in the trash compactor.

Return – for some there are fêtes and parties to celebrate victory. The father of the prodigal son throws a feast. The Republic celebrate Luke’s destruction of the Death Star. The hobbits of the Shire get merrily drunk. The prince marries his princess. Yet the hero is changed by his adventure and nothing will ever be the same again. For many that will be the call to a new adventure, for others it will be the application of new wisdom applied to ruling the land.

Reflection – no true hero’s story is told without discovering inner truth. Luke’s world is changed by his discovery of ‘The Force’ – the magical and miraculous truth at the heart of the universe. Arthur rules in wisdom and justice having learned the secrets of power from Merlin. And there is a sense that all is well in the world – at least for the moment – as Luke is surrounded by the wraiths of his mentors, Yoda and Obi-Wan… and of his father.


Anticlockwise from the top!

In brief

Although it may take many forms, the mythical path of the hero’s journey is the core, not only of the lasting stories of our time, but also of our own lives. Next time, we’re going to take a look at how that story plays out in our own lives. But for now, in six sentences, the story…

The hero is introduced in his ORDINARY WORLD where he receives the CALL TO ADVENTURE and MEETS HIS GUIDE. He is RELUCTANT at first to CROSS THE FIRST THRESHOLD into the UNKNOWN WORLD where he will encounter TESTS and TRIALS, meeting new COMPANIONS and ENEMIES. He reaches the INNERMOST CAVE where he endures the SUPREME ORDEAL, the DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL. He SEIZES THE TREASURE and is pursued by the forces of darkness on the ROAD BACK to his world. He is RESURRECTED and transformed by his experience. He RETURNS to his ordinary world with a treasure or GIFT to benefit his world.

It’s a fabulous journey . .


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PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Aug 22

Discovering the Hero’s Journey–Walking with Heroes Part 2



Hello again, and welcome to the second part of our adventure ‘Walking with Heroes’. This time we’re going to look at the Hero’s Journey – the timeless saga that underpins the great stories told around the world – and is also the heart of my story – and of yours, too.

The journey

When we look deeply into the structure of the great sagas, whether they be ancient stories like those of Jason and the Argonaut, or more up to date tales like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter we find a pattern. That pattern’s there not just because it’s good story telling – but because that’s the pattern of the story of our own lives, woven deep into the warp and woof of our own journey, our own saga.

The concept of the Hero’s Journey was identified by mythologist and author Joseph Campbell – he referred to it as the ‘monomyth’ and outlined it in his book ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’. Campbell believed that the monomyth was the great underlying spiritual story of mankind, and that’s why we find so many echoes of it in storytelling around the world. The story then embodies what’s at the core of our lives… that this is, in essence, a spiritual journey.

When we start to realise that our lives are not just aimless wanderings from birth to death, through highs and lows, peaks and troughs, through the ordinary and mundane to the sublime and wonderful – when we realise that each one of us is part of a bigger story, the story told from before time – then suddenly each one of us can know that we are living a life of significance, that our individual contribution is important. We are not here by chance – we are here because we matter, and because our lives matter.

The meaning of myth

In Campbell’s work, story and mythology have four functions:

To awaken a sense of awe before the mystery of being – because deep truth cannot be explained in words or images, story that awakens the soul allows us to connect to the deeper hidden mysteries.

To explain the shape of the universe – to find a way to explain the infinitely complex in patterns and in analogies that can be grasped by humanity, and to reconcile the scientific with the spiritual.

To validate the existing social order – to preserve the constructs of society and the values and morals of civilisation.

To guide the individual through the stages of life – to provide a framework for each of us to use as we step through our own individual journeys.

I’m going to focus on this last role, because it helps us to understand our lives, creating a cosmic context for our experience, making sense of what may feel like a random and chaotic journey.

Each of us will have had a moment when we identified with a character in a story. That might be with the despair of Cinderella when she is left behind, unable to join in the merriment and excitement at the ball – until, that is, until magic arrives in the shape of the fairy godmother and transforms bleak despair into hope and joy. That might be with the youthful Luke Skywalker, left alone on the desert world of Tattooine – until, that is, a chance encounter with a mysterious old man leads him into an adventure that spans the galaxy.

That identification is no coincidence. The echo of the story calls to each one of us, calling us to believe in something greater, something that will give our life meaning. We may believe that we are stuck somewhere in our story – but the truth is that we are not – that we can choose to write our own ending and create life as we want it to be. We are both the hero and the storyteller – the protagonist and the voiceover, and we can choose our own adventure and our own storyline.

In the movies

In the mid 1980s Chris Vogler, a story consultant for Disney, became fascinated by the concepts of the hero’s journey, particularly as he saw the themes of the story laid out in the movie ‘Star Wars’. He wrote a seven page memo to the Disney executives explaining how he saw the mythic themes presented in the Star Wars storyline. Yet this mythic framework echoes back many long years – way back to before Hollywood, before Tolstoy, Dickens, Homer, before the authors of the Bible – way back to when stories were told around the camp fires by the wise men of the village, where stories became the way that culture and tradition was passed down from one generation to another – but also where hope, and meaning, values and ambition were woven into something much richer.

I can remember watching the ground breaking movie ‘The Matrix’ in an American cinema. I had no idea of the storyline or the concept, and yet suddenly my understanding of the world was turned upside down as the screenwriters forced me to question the very nature of reality. Many of those concepts are now embedded into our understanding of how truly ‘real’ this world is, and how much of it is an illusion.

Stages of the Journey

So, what is the journey? Well, it would seem unfair to leave you on tenterhooks waiting to discover the nature of this mythic story – waiting to discover the patterns and shadows that shape our lives. It would seem cruel to leave you waiting for the nature of the greatest story of our lives to be laid out in front of us.

And yet, that’s the story teller’s secret – to leave his audience waiting for the next chapter to unfold.


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Aug 17

Meeting the heroes – Walking With Heroes Part 1


So here we go – the first part of ‘Walking With Heroes’. I’ve found that looking at our lives through the eyes of myth and story to be really helpful, and so I am really looking forward to passing on to you what I’ve learned – so you can take that and build on it, use it and adapt it to your situation.

I spent a lot of time in big corporate organisations, and so I have done a lot of work with personality assessments: wonderful titles like ‘Myers-Briggs’ and ‘Belbin’, the Enneagram, Creativity assessments and more. One thing always frustrated me though – they all wanted to put me in a little box, to define how I behaved based on a questionnaire. And immediately someone tries to put me in a box, I tend to find ways to leap out of that box and defy their expectations.

So this work on what Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell called ‘mythic archetypes’ and we’re going to call ‘heroes’ as a form of personal analysis allows me to look at my life and respond to life at an emotional rather than an intellectual level. It allows me to find out what my heart is telling me, rather than what my head believes should be true.

(Time for a comment on terms – I’m going to use the word ‘hero’ for both male and female rather than talking about ‘heroines’ – it makes writing easier, and it feels more in keeping with modern usage)

In creating this series, I am hugely indebted to those who have come before me – to Carl Jung for his work on archetypes, for Joseph Campbell for his work on the hero’s journey, for Jean Houston for her work on myth and legend, and to Carol S Pearson, whose work ‘Awakening the Heroes Within’ was the beginning of my adventure in these ideas. I’d also like to thank storytellers everywhere, in particular some of those who have taken time to tell me shamanic stories out in Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Tibet and Hawaii, or tales of magic and other worlds, of angels and beings of light, of heroes and wise men….

Story time

Once upon a time, story was the way that truth was passed on from generation to generation.. and even now, whether in the written word, on TV, in movies or in the tales told around a campfire or a dinner table, stories have the power to change, to transform, to captivate, to heal, to set free.

Did you have a particular story that you loved when you were younger? Was there a particular hero of those stories that you loved? Somewhere in those stories, there’s a resonance about who you are. You see, particularly when we’re younger, the expectations of the world haven’t started to crowd in on us. Anything and everything is possible. We haven’t started listening to the demands of our teachers, or the rules of our religions, or the expectations of our parents. We’re allowed to be free and to imagine, to live a life where anything is possible. And (if you believe in these things) we are more connected to our life’s purpose and our true being when we are younger than when we get older and the pressures of making a living and being successful, of conforming and fitting in start to pressurise us.

So when we read a book or watch a movie or a TV show, or when our parents or grandparents read to us, or tell us a fairy tale, then we find in those stories the echoes of a deeper truth, a reality that calls out to us. And somewhere we connect to them.

I used to fascinated with stories of magic and wizards, with worlds that lay beyond our world – and as I have grown older and wiser I have reconnected with those stories, and begun to understand the true nature of what those myths and legends hid in plain sight. Heroes like Merlin, Gandalf, Estarriol – tales of magic and dragons. As I grew older I became intrigued by stories that took us out of our current abilities and into a new level of human evolution – stories of the Tomorrow People, the X-men, or people like DareDevil who had developed new abilities beyond their own humanity.

And those stories have stuck with me, helping me to understand that part of my gift is to help others reconnect with their own true magical power, to learn and grow and develop – to become, if you like, super human – more truly human than they knew.

So what’s your story? What did you love when you were younger? What stories truly resonated? What did you ask your mother or father to read to you over and over? What books would you pick up again and again? What did you play – what models did you make, what did you build out of Lego or out of clay?

Take some time to think back, and then imagine what that might mean. What parts of that story are you living out? What have you let go of?

About heroes

When we start to look at our stories, there seem to be a number of heroic characters that keep popping up. The king, the hermit, the fairy godmother, the wizard. The princess, the jester, the joker, the warrior. The adventurer, the wise woman, the innocent. All these are archetypes – models of particular traits and characteristics, forms of behaviour. Each of these find different ways to deal with the world around them. Each one of them has a different way to deal with the dragon that faces them – the difficulty to overcome, the challenge, the battle to be fought.

Each of these characters has unique strengths, unique talents and abilities that help them be heroic. And each of them has weaknesses too, their own Achilles heel that can cause them to falter.

One of the reasons why we’re unhappy or frustrated is that we don’t allow that heroic nature to be expressed. It sounds too, well, heroic. It sounds like a million miles away from the daily commute, from the office, from housework and home repairs, from hobbies and church and the factory floor. Yet each of us carries within us those elements of heroism. Not one of us is left out. We are, each of us, powerful beyond measure. We are, each of us, brilliant, talented, brave, heroic. Sometimes it might be a bit hidden… and now it’s time to get the armour out of the cupboard, shine it up and step into the truth of who we really are.

Because the world needs heroes.

It needs men and women who will step beyond the mundane and the ordinary and demonstrate their greatness. It needs you. We’re each one of us coded for it, by the way. Deep in our DNA is hidden a greatness, a wonder, a gift that we bring. And without your gift, the world is poorer.

Over this series, we’re going to look at each of the mythic heroes one by one, and look at their response to the world. We’ll look at their mythic story, and we’ll find echoes of those stories hidden in our own lives. You’re not restricted to one particular character, by the way – many of us are combinations of characters (I resonate with at least four!). You’ll also perhaps find characters that you don’t resonate with – or where you have been forced to behave in a certain way – yet that doesn’t feel ‘right’. For example, I have tried many times to act as the Ruler in my life, and it’s a pattern of behaviour that doesn’t suit me. I’m far better letting go of that and exploring what it might mean to be an Adventurer, where every day is taken as it comes, or finding the Magician – leaving the day to day running of the kingdom to others and allowing magic to heal the things that matter.

Oh and, by the way, even if you do find that you’re clearly behaving according to one of these characters, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you deciding to change character mid story. This is your story after all. The orphan Luke Skywalker became a great warrior and eventually a great magician.

Meeting the heroes

You might not see yourself in this list yet – although one of them might reach out and speak to you, and you’ll say ‘of course. That’s who I am’. We’ll introduce each one of them to you and at some point you’ll say ‘yes, that’s me’ or maybe just ‘I can see a lot of that in my character’. So as you read it, just let your soul take in each one and imagine what they might be..

So here they are:













Any of those suddenly leap out at you? Doesn’t matter if it didn’t – you’ll find a resonance with at least one of these as we go through this programme.

Yet as we go, you might find yourself drawn back to a book you hadn’t read since you were young, a TV programme that you’d forgotten – or you might find your dreams suddenly and strangely peopled by new characters and threaded through with new adventures. Because story releases truth.

Next time, we’re going to start to look at the hero’s journey, the cycle of our lives.

Until then, enjoy what comes up and what appears in your life – it might be more significant than you think…


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Aug 14

Walking with Heroes


A while back, I spent a lot of time exploring the idea of the Hero’s Journey and Mythic Archetypes. and it feels like a good time to dust some of that off and share it here for a wider audience. (My clients and newsletter subscribers got access to this programme on line, but I felt it was worth reviewing it and sharing a bit more widely).

The Hero’s Journey describes the key elements of every good story – how our hero leaves the realm of the ordinary world when she receives the call to adventure. a call which he initially refuses, but through a meeting with a mysterious adviser, steps into a new world full of tests, trials, allies and enemies.. and eventually make their way back into the realm of the ordinary, forever changed and with a magical gift that will transform the world.

We see the echoes of this story in many of our fairy tales, in the great sagas of our time. It is of course, the story of Star Wars:

In act one we find our hero Luke Skywalker, stuck on the ordinary world of farming on Tattooine, when he receives the call in the form of a mysterious message stuck in R2D2s memory. On a quest to understand the message, he meets the strange and mysterious Obi-Wan-Kenobi, who takes him under his wing and introduces him to the power of the Force.. initially refusing the call, he finds his bridges – and his farm – burned and he reluctantly heads off into the unknown. He meets new allies along the way, and encounters new enemies, yet confronts death and returns triumphant – transformed by the ordeal from simple farm boy into Jedi warrior and ready to take his place in a new world.

The same story runs through Lord of the Rings, our hero replaced by an unassuming hobbit, who encounters Gandalf the magician and the Fellowship on his journey to save Middle Earth.

I am sure you can find your own echoes of it in your favourite stories and sagas.Aladdin. Cinderella. Arthur and Merlin. Jaws. the Wizard of Oz. The Lion King. The Hunger Games. The Matrix. E.T. and so many, many more.

(I love this comic book version – click through to see a larger view)


Disney themselves made this the core of their storywriting when Chris Vogler summarised Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” in a famous memo which became the backbone of the Disney’s storywriting process. The characters change, but the one great story remains.

And the reason why the story works is that it’s the story of each of our lives, in some way. It resonates with the truth of who we are, that for each of us there is an adventure ready to unfold. or an adventure that each of us is already walking. It might be a romance, or an ‘against the odds’ struggle, yet for each of us, when we recognise it, the story rings true.

The characters in the play have their own story to tell, too. the famous psychotherapist Carl Jung created the concept of an archetype, suggesting there were twelve broad patterns of behaviour:

  • Sage
  • Innocent
  • Explorer/Seeker
  • Ruler
  • Creator
  • Caregiver
  • Magician
  • Hero/Warrior
  • Outlaw/Revolutionary
  • Lover
  • Jester/Fool
  • Everyman

Carol S Pearson took this work further in her programme for individuals and for businesses, and in her amazing book “Awakening the Heroes Within”. I can only scratch the surface in this series, but I hope it will provide an accessible introduction that motivates some of you to dig deeper and pick up her book.

I love this work because unlike many of the psychological tools available today (Enneagram, Belbin, Myers Briggs and so on) this one doesn’t seek to put people in a box so much as become aspirational.

When I first did the analysis to show which the primary heroes were active in my own life, I found that the area I was weakest was as the Warrior – I was not good at enforcing boundaries and fighting for what I saw to be right. I could look at that and decide to change it. not to change the core of who I am, but to strengthen an area that I saw weak.

And as I did the work, and looked at the stories for each of these Heroes, I could see the unfolding of some stories that mirrored my life experience and helped me to understand the context, what to avoid and to see what would come next if I continued on the journey.

I and the people I have worked with have found the ideas wonderfully helpful.. and so I thought I would open it up, share it all on the blog, and let others find what catches fire for them..

So, over the next few weeks, I’m going to publish the episodes of the ‘Walking With Heroes’ programme to the blog every few days. There’s a lot of content so I don’t want to give you indigestion! I hope you enjoy it – and I suspect that at some point, if you’re paying attention, one or more of the characters will resonate with you and you’ll suddenly realise ””That’s me!”

And at the end I will share the tool I have used to work out where people are on the Hero Spectrum – to see what’s working in their lives, and perhaps understand a little more of what’s going on.

Enjoy the journey…


Find out more at

Feb 25




“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”

– Marianne Williamson, “A Return to Love”

I return regularly to this fabulous quote from Marianne Williamson. There is something of freedom, something liberating, something that unlocks a secret hidden in plain sight.

The story of the quote is quite remarkable in itself – a rumour began that it was part of Nelson Mandela’s inaugural address, and so the relatively unknown author was suddenly propelled into the public eye. As far as anyone knows, Mandela has never used the quote… yet I for one am glad for the error, which has enabled Marianne to reach a far wider audience than she might have otherwise. And I would certainly recommend ‘A Return to Love’ if you’re searching for wisdom – it’s one of the books that has had the greatest influence on my life.

At the heart of this is the certainty that we are amazing, incredible, beautiful, wonderful human beings. The gifts we have are phenomenal: encoded within each one of us is the ability to change the world. There are things that only you can do – dances only you can dance, songs only you can sing, wisdom only you can bring, truth that only you can tell. Inside each one of us is a gift to the world – some of us have found that gift and are busy expressing it – and others have yet to find it. Yet it’s there… and pretending that we have nothing to give doesn’t serve any of us.

Even if I didn’t believe in ‘God’, I would still know that this is true – that when we choose to shrink down and hide then we are robbing the world of something beautiful, something precious, something important. As each of us stand up and step into our own glory, then something of beauty is released that makes the world a more wonderful place. And every time one of us does, every time we shake off the fear that holds us down, the humility that has no real basis in reality… then we become an example to others who say ‘if they can, then so can I’. It’s almost as if we become more solid, somehow – more true, more real – rather than seeing a shadow of who we are, when we stand up and say ‘this is who I am’ then people actually begin to see us as we really are.

And suddenly, our very presence becomes something different. Our energy changes. People react to those who declare freedom in a different way. Even without knowing their story, there is something about those who have chosen to live from the promise. They may not be able to put it into words… but they can feel it.

It’s time for each of us to know how powerful we truly are….

Feb 24

Running the risk

camp fire

I am conscious that in writing this blog, I am sharing my own heart – not theory, not things that I learned by rote somewhere else, not someone else’s words, but that which I have come to believe, through experience, through learning, through listening, through my mistakes and through my triumphs. If I am honest, there are moments when I want to draw back, to hide what I believe, to keep it safe from public scrutiny. I want to protect myself from scorn, or even from honest questioning. I fear being misunderstood, or that people will make assumptions and jump to conclusions about what they assume I have said – or what I believe.

There are moments when I truly fear the effects of standing up to be counted for what I believe.

Paulo Coelho says in the book “Manual of the Warrior of Light”;

A warrior of light is reliable.
He makes a few mistakes, he sometimes thinks he is more important than he
really is, but he does not lie.
When people gather round the fire, he talks to his friends, male and female. He
knows that his words are stored in the memory of the Universe, like a testimony of
what he thinks.
And the warrior asks himself: ‘Why do I talk so much, when often I am
incapable of carrying out everything I say?’
His heart replies: ‘When you defend your ideas in public, you then have to
make an effort to live accordingly.’
It is because he believes that he is what he says he is that the warrior ends up
becoming precisely that.

There are things that I may talk about where I haven’t ‘got there’ yet. There are things that I understand to be true that I have yet to fully experience. And as I bring those things out and talk more about what I sense to be true – then I call upon myself to live from that pattern. I know I will not get it right all the time – but I will be one step closer each day.

Each one of us have to make the decision – in small ways, or in bigger ways, to stand up and defend what we believe. That may mean that we intervene when something is obviously wrong. That may mean that we need to speak our mind instead of opting for an easier life. That may mean speaking our truth when we would rather not. And yet, I hope and pray that when each of us do speak our truth, that we will find the opportunity to learn from each other. That rather than retreating behind dogma and prejudice, we will simply and openly look to listen to each other.

Each one of us holds a fragment of the totality of truth in our hands. Each one of us is wiser than we know. And only by listening will truth be known.

PS – coming soon – a brand new blog that will enable me to explore some of these things in more detail…. watch this space!

Feb 21

Who are you?


Believe it or not, you are God’s gift to the universe. Totally unique, absolutely gifted, incredibly talented, more powerful than you know or could ever believe. As Marianne Williamson observes, we are more afraid of our own greatness than of our own shortcomings: “who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?”

The world doesn’t need you to be humble. The world isn’t going to get upset if you step into your own truth, your own gift, your own incredible gorgeous power. The world needs you to be YOU… to bring every talent, every gift, every ability that you were created with out to play. We are poorer without you stretching out to be the greatest possible ‘you’. We miss out when you hold your gift back.

And as we step into that gift, as we dare to become who we really are, as we shake off humility, stop shrinking back and stand up to be who we truly are – then we step into a life that truly is worth living.

Join me?

Feb 20

Putting the world together . . .



Who? Me? Put the world back together?

Yup. You and me. One random act of kindness at a time. A thousand moments of sharing a little bit of love. It doesn’t have to be neat. It doesn’t have to be tidy. It doesn’t have to be obvious. It can be messy as hell, and it can even go completely wrong and backfire. But just a little piece of extra love, bringing a fragment of extra peace into your life, into the life of another.. it doesn’t take much… but you have the power to make the world just a little better. It all counts. And an awful lot of ‘a little better’? You don’t need me to explain the mathematics to you, do you?

Hugs and love…