In our 2012 book 'Self-leadership' my co-author, Ana Kazan Ph.D. and I make the following statement:
"There are no fairy godmothers - If you want to be transformed, to be free, you must do the work; you are the hero, you are your own savior."
It is a truism that life is not fair. We are not all born with parents who validate our self-esteem and provide opportunities for us to learn and grow; sometimes circumstances are downright cruel. But success is measured not by what you have but how much you have grown inside, and this comes by motivating yourself to overcome obstacles and live with purpose.
In fact, those that have ‘moved the dial’ or ‘achieved the delta’ by going from a D grade to a C, and a C to a B are much more resilient than those who have always gotten A’s.
Mythologist Joseph Campbell tracked the hero's journey, a common theme in all cultures (and Hollywood), which is the process by which we are called to action, to a higher purpose (think about Neo in the Matrix or Luke in Star Wars). The hero initially refuses the call and may even run away (Jonah and the whale) but on meeting a guide or mentor sets out on an outer and inner journey of discovery, challenge, and growth.
We are all heroes or heroines, just living with purpose and integrity in today's world takes courage and perseverance. Hopefully, you are lucky enough to have a mentor (or coach) to guide you but ultimately you must seek the answers within. Ultimately self-leadership is about finding what motivates you and managing your distractions so that you become effective.
Psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi described the state of 'flow' as those periods when you are totally engaged in what you are doing and time just 'goes away'. When we are in ‘flow’ we are experiencing natural self-motivation and what we are doing gives us a clue about our purpose. For me, flow happens when I am coaching or speaking to an audience about how they can improve their self-leadership. What is it for you?
Organizations have often ignored the power of self-motivation in favor of offering 'stick and carrot' style approaches to getting people to work better. Heroes can work alone or together combining their powers and covering for each other to make powerful teams.
Even heroes have doubts and a negative inner dialogue can be Kryptonite to your Superman. The hero recognizes that success is a journey and that there will be setbacks and failures, but these are learning experiences that prepare him or her for the next challenge. The hero knows that they must live by a personal code of ethics and if they stay true to this, regardless of what happens externally, they will be a success.
"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."
Wherever you are in life, whatever circumstances you are experiencing, you have an inner narrative that you tell yourself. This narrative can be empowering or destructive.
As an Executive Coach, I get to help people become aware of their narrative and evaluate if it is empowering or disempowering.
For example, I was once working with a start-up founder who had lost a lot of money in a previous venture. His narrative about 'failing' was preventing him from taking the bold moves his company needed. Together we reworked and 'reframed' the narrative from failure to 'preparation' and he went on to take that start-up to a successful IPO.
What is your narrative or personal story? Is it serving you? What do you need to reframe?
Since writing this blog, I experienced a new life challenge, when my doctor gave me some scary news. If you would like to see an example of how a personal narrative maps to the hero's journey, check out this post.
15 Minute Masterclass for Senior Executives & Managers
Presenter: Andrew Bryant, Global Authority on Self-Leadership & Executive Presence.