Today, typically, I’m writing at a coffee shop, it’s noisy and full of chattering people, there’s an extra buzz belonging to the bank holiday – who doesn’t relish a four day week? I’ve been churning over something I want to say; the noise is distracting, I’m arguing with myself, can I write or not, are the conditions good or bad? Being human I can find a downpour of excuses not to start regardless of reasons to be begin. I’ve started writing anyway. The Procrastination Monkey hangs his head refusing to make eye contact and is swiftly replaced by Perfectionist Monkey – now you’ve started you’d better make this good, she grins and squeals with mischievous delight; I choose not to be distracted by my monkey brain, it’s difficult. Thoughts are formless, we apply meaning to them – or not; I tell them to shut up, a trick I learned, from Richard Bandler.
I wonder how many times I tell myself that I can’t do something when I probably can? It’s a personal call to adventure, I know this from a man called Steve who lives in Arizona, Steve Hardison – The Ultimate Coach. Steve has a thing about commitment, it’s serious, he’s serious. You’d think he invented commitment, not just the word, the act. I asked him once, ‘How do you know what to commit to?’ His swift and concrete reply, ‘You Choose.’ Oh hell, it’s all on me, no excuses. There are days I wish it weren’t.
Studying creative writing I stumbled upon Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, The Hero’s Journey, more recently modified by Christopher Vogler (1998). The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers. It’s an essential read for anyone interested in mythology but also personal transformation. Workforce advisors tell me that people can’t change, fundamentally they are who they are, you might be able to change their behaviours but not the person, officially people don’t change. Therein lies the nugget, the insight the ‘old chestnut.’
In organisational terms, change is something that can be externally applied, the same truth applies to individuals, we can change peoples’ behaviour by applying a set of principles or rules of engagement, and we uphold these rules or principles usually through policies and procedures – the primary business as usual management methodology. Transformation, on the other hand, is a process of change from within, true of organisations and people. Transformation is not a process of learning but one of realisation. It has a deeper, more sustainable feel about it. Our role is merely to provide the conditions necessary to catalyse this deeper more transformative change either in ourselves, our teams or organisations.
The transformation journey is a call to adventure. Many, understandably, refuse the call. Nevertheless, for those who have the courage to set out on this journey, the path is paved with necessary obstacles, some real others illusionary; this journey can often involve a process of letting go – of something familiar, comfortable or predictable. It’s a very personal experience, and whilst nobody can make the journey for us there will always be mentors, allies and providence to help you along the way.
‘We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.’
Vogler, Christopher (1998) The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers.