You have watched the Hero’s Journey play out in every Disney movie since you were a child. In real life, it usually starts with a crisis that sparks the deeper call. The kingdom (be it your team, your organization or society) is in grave danger and you must embark on a journey to fix what is broken and find what is lost. At some point along the journey, the heroes who are successful experience a transformation; a deep awareness that changes their beliefs and behavior. They shed their old assumptions and patterns and embrace a new way of thinking and being. They are forever changed.
The Hero’s Journey is a perfect metaphor for our experience with the global pandemic. Many of us have spent the last few weeks marking the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. We recalled the exact meeting we were in the last time we worked in an office, we celebrated our final travels and we grieved pieces of a lost past.
The last year has forced us to reexamine, release and review what was familiar to us. We had to shift our mindset and fight against the desire to hold onto a past that will never be again.
Organizations and small businesses altered their processes to remain viable in the new world. Leaders changed their practice to support employees (and business operations) in a very different way. All of us were asked to engage in new behaviors that felt awkward at first. Whether we resisted, conformed or adapted, transition was upon us.
Looking back, many of us have embraced the changes and found ourselves appreciating many aspects of our new reality. As with any journey, many will resist the call and remain in their current state, while others will be forever transformed as a result of the experience.
There is no doubt that our journey over the past year has been challenging and many of us felt nothing like a hero. Parents navigated changes in schooling, employees moved to work from home quickly often without all the tools and equipment to make their jobs easier, and too many of us experienced personal loss during this time.
Leaders who tuned into these realities by offering empathy, caring and compassion were able to more effectively generate collaborative problem solving and flexibility that everyone needed to thrive. They created environments that promoted personal growth in resilience and creativity.
We are not the same people, leaders, or organizations that we were 12 months ago. In talking with leaders who have used this year to profoundly change their organization, this is what I have heard:
- We stayed focused on our people and put extra attention and emphasis on their well-being.
- We used our vision as a guiding force and stayed focused on our values.
- We embraced the learning process and grew into something new.
- We remained calm and steadfast.
- We courageously did the right thing.
Amidst all the controversy and struggle, leaders expressed pride in doing the right thing, even when it was hard, and they believed it would serve them well in their personal and professional growth.
The pandemic is not over, but leaders who have used this year to learn, expand and grow can ensure they have capitalized on a difficult situation to bring about significant positive change. They have embraced their journey and come out a hero.
Written by Dr. Laurie Cure, Phd. Have you read?
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