We came together to tell our stories – every one a hero’s journey of adventure, adversity, and transformation. Enveloped by the picturesque, attention-to-detail landscape of de Baak’s trademark hospitality, we connected easily. A group of international trainers with a diverse range of skills and abilities, our goal was a simple one: to share our uniqueness in ways which would help each other to help the people we serve – those individuals, groups, and companies seeking to grow in ways they may not even be aware of.
During a dedicated storytelling workshop we learnt that, according to Joseph Campbell, the journey of the archetypal hero has 12 distinct stages. Fascinatingly, every one of those stages is present in every story told. I listened closely, linking each phase to my personal development story: Called to adventure by a need to change and improve, I was guided on my path by a wise man. I faced many challenges over the years, but the treasures I discovered were the most valuable and illuminating I have ever known. Told in this way, the courage of any story becomes more apparent.
In our work we invite people to do the same: explore beneath the surface, see clearly how behaviour is shaped at every level, meet the challenges, and develop in ways which can change their lives forever. In the safe and trusted spaces we create, we encourage people to tell their stories. That in itself requires courage and commitment, which is why the hero’s journey is so appropriate.
Encouragingly, each of the 12 phases is a clear invitation to relax, because wherever you find yourself in your story is a natural part of the cycle. Ideally, we are always in flux; always moving from one phase to the next. There are times, however, when people – individuals, groups, and even organisations – do get stuck. Either out of habit, a reluctance to face their own truth, a shortage of options, or just a lack of awareness, they are unable to proceed. Which is where we come in because, in this context at least, our work is to facilitate transformation through the various stages, listening attentively to their stories as we go.
We did exactly that in the late evening of the first day. Sitting around the hypnotic flickering of a campfire, we shared stories of our work. By that time we were firmly ensconced in our storytelling, and as the flames transfixed us, the tales we told inspired us. Eventually, one by one, we left the warmth of the fire and the appreciative company to retreat to our beds. I lay awake for a while, reviewing the day, simultaneously excited and satisfied by the environment in which I found myself – one dedicated to discovery, truth and transformation. And, of course, courage.