Models for coaching

The Hero’s Journey

What is the Hero’s Journey? The Hero’s Journey is a narrative structure that has been used in storytelling across various cultures and time periods. It is a pattern of events and character development that can be found in countless myths, legends, and works of fiction. The concept was popularised by Joseph Campbell, a renowned mythologist…

Useful in coaching for Exploring Options, Making a Change, Self-Awareness, Understanding Behaviour 

The Hero's Journey

What is the Hero’s Journey?

The Hero’s Journey is a narrative structure that has been used in storytelling across various cultures and time periods. It is a pattern of events and character development that can be found in countless myths, legends, and works of fiction. The concept was popularised by Joseph Campbell, a renowned mythologist and author, who studied the commonalities in the world’s myths and identified the key elements that make up this archetypal story.

The Hero’s Journey represents a transformational process that a protagonist undergoes to achieve their goals, overcome obstacles, and ultimately return to their world as a changed person. It is a powerful and universal template that taps into the innate human desire for growth, self-discovery, and the pursuit of a meaningful life. This timeless narrative pattern has resonated with audiences for centuries and continues to be a vital part of our cultural fabric.

In recent years, the Hero’s Journey has been embraced as a powerful metaphor for personal development and self-improvement. Coaches, therapists, and educators have recognised the potential that this framework has to offer, as it provides an accessible and engaging way for clients to understand their own life journey, identify the challenges they face, and discover their inner strengths.

Campbell’s Model vs Vogler’s Model

Joseph Campbell’s model of the Hero’s Journey, also known as the monomyth, consists of seventeen stages. These stages can be grouped into three main categories: the departure, the initiation, and the return. Despite the complexity of Campbell’s model, it has been criticised for being too rigid and prescriptive, as not all stories or myths will fit neatly into the seventeen stages.

In response to these criticisms, Christopher Vogler, a Hollywood screenwriter, developed a simplified version of the Hero’s Journey that comprises twelve stages. Vogler’s model retains the essence of Campbell’s monomyth but adapts it to better suit modern storytelling, particularly in the context of film and television. While both models share similarities, Vogler’s model is generally considered to be more accessible and flexible, making it more suitable for use in coaching and personal development contexts.

How can the Hero’s Journey be used in coaching?

The Hero’s Journey can serve as a powerful tool for coaches to help their clients navigate the challenges and transitions they face in their lives. By using the framework of the Hero’s Journey, coaches can guide clients in identifying the different stages of their personal journey, understanding the lessons that can be learned at each stage, and finding the inner resources needed to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.

By reframing the client’s life story through the lens of the Hero’s Journey, coaches can foster a sense of meaning and purpose in their clients’ lives, empowering them to embrace their potential for growth and transformation. Furthermore, the Hero’s Journey provides a universal language that can be used to communicate complex ideas and emotions, making it a valuable tool for building rapport and deepening the coaching relationship.

Stages of the Hero’s Journey (and how we can use each in coaching)

1. Ordinary World

The Ordinary World represents the starting point of the Hero’s Journey, where the protagonist lives their everyday life. In the context of coaching, this stage can be used to help clients establish their baseline, understand their current circumstances, and identify areas of dissatisfaction or unfulfilled potential.

By exploring the client’s Ordinary World, coaches can gain insight into the client’s values, beliefs, and goals, providing a solid foundation from which to support their personal growth.

2. Call to Adventure

The Call to Adventure is the event or situation that disrupts the protagonist’s Ordinary World and sets them on the path of the Hero’s Journey. In coaching, this stage can be used to help clients recognise opportunities for change, growth, or self-discovery. Coaches can encourage clients to reflect on moments in their lives when they felt a strong desire to pursue a new direction or challenge themselves in some way.

By identifying the Call to Adventure, clients can begin to understand the driving forces behind their desire for change and start to establish clear goals for their personal development.

3. Refusal of the call

The Refusal of the Call occurs when the protagonist resists the Call to Adventure, often due to fear, doubt, or a sense of inadequacy. In coaching, this stage can be used to help clients recognise and address the barriers that prevent them from pursuing their goals or embracing change. Coaches can support clients in overcoming these obstacles by encouraging self-reflection, building self-confidence, and developing effective strategies for managing fear and resistance.

4. Meeting the mentor

The Meeting the Mentor stage signifies the protagonist’s encounter with a wise and experienced guide who provides support, advice, and guidance on their journey. In the coaching context, the coach serves as the mentor, offering a wealth of experience, knowledge, and insight to help clients navigate their personal Hero’s Journey.

By establishing a strong and trusting coaching relationship, coaches can empower clients to develop their own inner wisdom and resources, fostering self-reliance and resilience.

5. Crossing the first threshold

Crossing the First Threshold marks the protagonist’s commitment to the journey and their entry into a new and unfamiliar world. In coaching, this stage represents the client’s decision to take action and pursue their goals, despite the challenges and uncertainties they may face. Coaches can support clients in this stage by helping them develop a clear action plan, build motivation, and maintain accountability.

6. Tests, allies and enemies

As the protagonist embarks on their journey, they encounter various tests, allies, and enemies that challenge their resolve and help them learn valuable lessons. In coaching, this stage can be used to help clients identify the challenges they are likely to face on their personal journey, as well as the resources and support systems they have in place to overcome these obstacles.

By recognizing and preparing for potential challenges, clients can develop resilience and adaptability, making them better equipped to handle setbacks and maintain momentum towards their goals.

7. Approach to the inmost cave

The Approach to the Inmost Cave represents a period of introspection and preparation before the protagonist faces their greatest challenge or ordeal. In coaching, this stage can be used to help clients develop self-awareness, recognise their inner strengths, and address any personal limitations or beliefs that may hinder their progress.

Through deep self-reflection and personal growth, clients can cultivate the inner resources necessary to face their most significant challenges and embrace their true potential.

8. The ordeal

The Ordeal is the climax of the Hero’s Journey, where the protagonist confronts their greatest fears and obstacles, often undergoing a transformation in the process. In coaching, this stage can be used to help clients navigate major life transitions, overcome significant challenges, or make difficult decisions that require courage and resilience.

By supporting clients through their personal ordeals, coaches can help them emerge stronger, more confident, and better equipped to achieve their goals.

9. Reward

Following the Ordeal, the protagonist receives a reward, often in the form of new knowledge, skills, or personal growth. In coaching, this stage can be used to help clients recognise and celebrate their achievements, reinforcing their sense of self-worth and accomplishment.

By acknowledging and validating the client’s successes, coaches can foster a sense of pride and motivation, encouraging continued growth and development.

10. The road back

The Road Back signifies the protagonist’s return to their ordinary world, where they must integrate the lessons and growth they have experienced on their journey. In coaching, this stage can be used to help clients develop strategies for maintaining the positive changes they have made, as well as addressing any lingering challenges or obstacles that may arise.

Coaches can support clients in this stage by reinforcing the importance of self-reflection, continued personal development, and the cultivation of support networks and resources.

11. Resurrection

The Resurrection represents the protagonist’s final test, where they must demonstrate the full extent of their personal growth and transformation. In coaching, this stage can be used to help clients consolidate their learning, evaluate their progress, and identify any areas requiring further development or attention.

By engaging in this process of self-assessment and reflection, clients can maintain momentum in their personal growth and continue to build on their successes.

12. Return with the elixir

The Return with the Elixir signifies the protagonist’s return to their ordinary world, armed with the wisdom and growth they have gained on their journey. In coaching, this stage can be used to help clients integrate their learning and personal growth into their daily lives, applying the lessons they have learned to create lasting, positive change.

Coaches can support clients in this stage by offering guidance on how to maintain personal growth, navigate future challenges, and continue to pursue meaningful goals.

How the Hero’s Journey can help clients understand their situation

The Hero’s Journey offers a powerful and accessible framework for clients to make sense of their personal experiences, challenges, and growth. By reframing their life story through the lens of the Hero’s Journey, clients can gain a greater understanding of their own journey, identify the lessons they have learned, and recognize the transformative potential within themselves.

Through the use of the Hero’s Journey as a coaching tool, coaches can empower clients to embrace their potential for growth and transformation, fostering a sense of meaning, purpose, and resilience in their lives. By guiding clients through the stages of the Hero’s Journey, coaches can help them navigate the challenges and opportunities that life presents, ultimately supporting them in the pursuit of a fulfilling and authentic life.

Other Coaching Models

Here’s some more helpful coaching and self-reflection models

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