In my last blog (The “Quest” for Success), I explored the concept of the “quest” and how it relates to both the Indiana Jones films of the 80s as well as the workplace of today. Since them, my fascination with the quest model has further deepened upon encountering my friend, Gail Whipple’s, brilliant take on the hero’s journey, what she calls the “Heroes Circle”. According to Gail’s model, a hero typically goes through five stages on the course of a quest, namely:

Preparation: Before his adventure even begins, the hero is already “preparing”. This means that he is unconsciously accumulating skills, knowledge and abilities that may, perhaps, aid him on his journey – a quest that he most certainly has not anticipated taking.

Separation: During this second stage, something major happens – some catalytic event (an object of value gets stolen, one’s family is murdered, etc.) that propels the hero to leave home, saying goodbye to his normal life and childhood innocence.

Initiation: Our protagonist is propelled now into a larger world, undergoing trials that transform him into something bigger than he was before.

Return: After overcoming all his trials, the hero returns home to share what he has learned.

Expanded possibilities: A changed man due to his trials and travails, the hero discovers that – because of him — the world has been changed as well, for the better.

A great example of the Heroes Circle is the new Disney animated film, Big Hero 6 (2014). Here we meet our protagonist, teenage prodigy Hiro, a young man with a genius for robotics (if not for friendships). During the preparation stage, Hiro (with no knowledge of his adventures to come) is quietly building robots in his bedroom, mastering the engineering know-how that will one day aid him on his journey, and developing a self-sufficient, can-do attitude.

And then life happens – the catalyzing, “separation” event: a tragic fire kills Hiro’s brother, Tadashi, thrusting our hero into a larger world that includes a very menacing villain in a Kabuki mask.

During his “initiation” stage, Hiro falls into an unlikely alliance with Tadashi’s geeky college friends Fred, Go Go, Wasabi, and Honey Lemon, each a robotics genius in his/her own right. Their mission becomes: 1) find out what really happened in the fire and 2) discover a way to stop the creepy Kabuki man, intent on threatening the city with his army of micro-bots. And oh yes, Hiro has a very special challenge of his own: to transform Tadashi’s last college engineering project, Baymax — a gentle, plus-sized, inflatable robot designed for medical assistance – into a viable fighting machine (not an easy task).

After many adventures that I won’t share now for fear of spoiling the movie for you, Hiro returns home (the “return stage”) a very changed individual. Not only has he stepped into his own power, no longer relying on his brother to always bail him out of trouble, but Hiro has unwittingly discovered latent leadership skills. On a deep level, he has learned, first-hand, the power of friendship and the value of sacrifice.

Hiro lives in a new world now, one of greatly “expanded possibilities” – not only for himself but also for his “team”. Will they become the next generation of super heroes, saving and perhaps changing the world? For that, you’ll have to go see the movie. 🙂

Gail’s Heroes Circle concludes with a set of subheadings for each stage of the journey, as follows:

Prepare

Explore

Bring It

Fulfill

Share

So, are you ready for your next adventure? How are you prepared? What will you explore? How will you “bring it”? What hidden potential will you fulfill? And with whom will you share your experiences?

Whether we like it or not, change happens. At some point, your currently reality will come to an end, often suddenly and dramatically. It’s just how life works. You can view that change as a negative, an unfortunate event, something to be lamented and mourned. Or, you can embrace the opportunity: a journey into the exciting unknown that will help you fulfill your latent potential — and quite possibly change the world. The choice is yours, hero/Hiro. Bring it!

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