Most of us go on hero’s journeys in our lives and businesses. The idea of the hero’s journey or monomyth originally came from Joseph Campbell and had 17 steps.  I learned about a 7 step version on a group coaching call this week and raced to draw it for you (I still love that grade 6 feeling of using markers and Bristol board).

So dawn your metaphorical cape and tights.  As you read through these stages, think about your current business and life journeys.  Plot where you are right now. I would love to tell you where I think I am in my life and business journeys, but I would rather keep you guessing.

The promised 7 steps of the hero’s journey:

1) Innocence-your life or business is ticking along. It might be dull but it’s safe and things are working.

2) Call to Adventure– you start to hear a calling to make a big change and it gets louder and louder (i.e. quite your job, buy the competition, climb Aconcagua…this is a plug for Coach Ian Renaud and his Project R.I.R.E…it is in French only)

3) Threshold Guardians– as soon as you decide to heed the call, guardians or protectors are sure to emerge. Their goal is to send you back to innocence (i.e.  your wife who doesn’t want you to resign, your mortgage, your own sabotaging voices that tell you that you are crazy and you will surely fail)

Many people return to innocence at this stage, too scared to go on.  Or as my mentor coach says, “they buy a big screen TV” and forget about the call altogether (although life becomes shades of grey even if the TV is in HD).

4) Road to Adventure– you made it past those powerful threshold guardians. Congratulations. You are on a journey of challenges, excitement, intrigue, and learning (i.e. you are building your business, traveling the world).  Times are good.  You feel free and full of hope.

5) Principal Ordeal– and then…seemingly out of the blue, you start feeling confused and trapped.  You have come too far to go back to safety and yet you don’t know how to go on.  This stage is not called the Principal Ordeal for nothing.  It will really test your metal.  You don’t know how long you will be stuck here and how you will go on, but go on you must (Hint: you need to get really quiet when you are here…the answers are inside you somewhere).

6) Flight/ Return– Yippee! Somehow you got silent. You found your way out of the fog. Your purpose is clear again and you know what you have to do to get the proverbial treasure back home (i.e. redefining your business offering, moving to a new city).  Whatever the ordeal is for you, you found a way out of it and now you are on your flight to freedom again having “slayed the dragon”.

7) Celebration and Service– You made it. Perhaps you are hometown hero. Perhaps it is just a quiet victory.  Whatever the case, you get to celebrate your success and share your treasures/ learnings. Revel in the victory and innocence of this time of celebration. Serve others. And keep your eyes and ears open.   If you are true hero, your next call to adventure won’t be far away!

Where are you in the hero’s journey of your life or business? Tell us by commenting.


  1. Ian Renaud on November 27, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Hey Lisa !

    Great article ! It does help put things into perspective !

    Can you guess in which stage I’m in ?!?

    Thanks for the link !
    Take care and see you soon !

    • lisablog52 on November 27, 2009 at 11:08 am

      Hi Ian-
      I would have to pick “road to adventure” as the stage you are in currently with regards to at least one area of your life. Am I right?

  2. amanda on November 27, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Oh…I am sooooo in Principal Ordeal that it is not funny! It feels endless…like sitting in a boat alone in the ocean looking for the shoreline. Moments and days of real ups and real lows. The word temperance comes to mind…
    But hey, I am sure learning a lot about myself, connecting with others and tapping into what I think the world needs!

    • lisablog52 on November 27, 2009 at 12:58 pm

      Hi Amanda,
      Thanks for sharing. Perhaps we can have a coffee someday and you can tell me all about temperance and what you are learning in your own Prinicpal Ordeal!

  3. Tanya Geisler on November 30, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    So much to consider here…I am particularly intrigued by the Threshold Guardians…these are some nasty saboteurs, aren’t they? Thanks for the context, LC.

    • lisablog52 on November 30, 2009 at 7:40 pm

      Yep…very limiting, these threshold guardians…as you know, the key is to figure out how they help you and how they hold you back and then make choices that work for you.

  4. […] call it the doldrums. Others, the  principal ordeal of the hero’s journey. Quite simply, it’s homeostasis, darling. Homeostasis. You know: ye olde “old habits die […]

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