The Hero's Journey: Resurrection


Author's note: This week is the eleventh in a 12-part series on the Hero's Journey, or the monomyth proposed by Joseph Campbell. The eleventh stage is Resurrection.

"No prophet is accepted in his hometown." (Luke 4:24)

If you have ever gone to a compelling conference, an impactful institute, or powerful, life-altering program, you may have experienced a hero's Resurrection.

At the end of such an amazing experience, you may have felt like you could change the world, or at least, make a positive difference for your organization or in your own life. The environment of the experience; the colleagues, friends, or fellow journeyers; and the immersive, albeit somewhat isolated nature of the program can make you feel like you are far, far away from the Ordinary World.

Then, reality strikes.

When you return to your community or organization, you may feel like you are leading a double life. For example, as a prophet is born and raised in her hometown, the people may remember her faults or immaturity from a previous time, or their own experiences and history with her, rather than the insights and wisdom she now brings as a prophet.

When you returned from your amazing experience, it is easy to forget that the people in your community or organization did not "drink the Kool-Aid" and have that same experience.

For those people, they see you as the person who boarded the bus or plane three, four, or five days ago, and not necessarily the new person you have become through your journey.

I have had this experience, whether coming back from LeaderShape as a participant in 2000 with a vision to address hazing in my organization, or returning from a professional conference, brimming with best practices and innovative ideas.

This is the challenge of the Resurrection. Whereas it is challenging in and of itself to become the person you have the potential to be, the final challenge of the Hero's Journey is to return to your community or organization, accepting, combining, and even reconciling the person you were with the person you have become.

Throughout the Hero's Journey, you have changed, you have grown, and you have become more and more the person you have the power to be. The Resurrection is a moment of acceptance and transformation, where you commit to living and owning your new identity.

Throughout the Hero's Journey, you have developed the Heroic Arts: Question, Courage, Strength, Speed, Sacrifice, and Team, you have confronted your fears in the Innermost Cave, and have triumphed in becoming your authentic self through the Ordeal.

Abraham Maslow, a pioneer in the field of psychology, identified Self-Actualization as the highest point in his presentation of a human being's heirarchy of needs, which begin with physiological needs and progress to "higher order" needs such as love and belonging, self-esteem, and ultimately self-actualization.

For the journeyer, this self-actualization also is the pinnacle of the Hero's Journey.

“Your work is to discover your work and then, with all your heart, to give yourself to it.” –Buddha