I love stories and storytelling!
There is no stronger memory from my childhood than settling down at bed time and listening to my father tell me a story.
I guess like most dads, he’d bring the story to life with such energy and passion, always finding the right voice for each of the characters.
At school, that simple phrase used by my teachers, “Are You Sitting Comfortably? Then I Will Begin…”, has to be amongst the most powerful phrases I’ve experienced for it still makes me settle back and completely relax!
From the very first time someone spoke those magical words, I’d open myself up to the adventure I was about to go on.
This love of stories and storytelling remains with me to this day, often popping up when I’m coaching someone or working with a team. Indeed, whenever I come across articles about stories or storytelling, I read them from both a personal and professional interest.
In one such article recently, I was struck by the notion that all good stories share mythical ideas, borne from human endeavour through the ages.
Take a moment to consider those tales that endure with you and I’m sure you will find they are all based on a few core archetypes.
Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker from Star Wars and Frodo from The Lord of the Rings are all living out the Hero’s Journey, taken from the seminal work by Joseph Campbell, specifically his book The Hero with A Thousand Faces.
We can relate to these characters because, either consciously or unconsciously, we can identify with that part of us.
Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.
Call to Action
Here’s an activity using four common archetypes that you can use to resolve even the most difficult challenges.
Think of a challenge you’re facing.
Now turn it into a powerful question…one that, when you’re able to answer it, you’ll know how to resolve the challenge, and what to do next.
Next, imagine you are each of the following archetypes, one at a time:
- The Warrior – the action-oriented part of you, energetic and strong…that will stand up and fight for what you believe in.
- The Magician – the part of you that believes in magic, that knows the solution is easy, elegant and quick…your imagination and your intuition.
- The Lover – the part of you that’s sensitive and has a deep connection with all other human beings.
- The King – the part of you that is selfless and wise, and is able to see the big picture.
When you tap into each archetype, stand the way you stand when that part of you is in charge – like you’ve been practicing since you read my post about Amy Cuddy!
As each archetype, ask your powerful question – and then answer it from that archetype.
For example “My warrior says…”
Jot down the insights you get from each one, staying with it until you gain clarity, congruence and certainty about the best way forward.
As a leader, you can use these archetypes in team meetings to help your team with a challenge.
This may seem a little off the wall at first, but give it a go and let me know how you get on.