How to use the cards for the Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey is based on a theory popularised by Joseph Campbell in his 1949 work The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell looked at world myths which had survived for thousands of years and noticed they all shared a fundamental structure. 

You can use The Hero’s Journey in so many ways in coaching and people development. Some include helping individuals to plan a journey (in life or work); or to identify their progress through a journey (metaphorical or real); or of course to reflect on a journey already completed (whether short, long, recent or historical).

This exercise can be used in 1-2-1 coaching or facilitating larger groups. If working with groups assign participants into pairs – one as a coachee, one a coach. 

  • Remind your coachee about the three sections of the Hero’s Journey. Or if you have time you can also work with the 12 detailed points of the journey (highlighted in italics):
    • Departure: the hero receives a call to adventure and must leave their ordinary world. On the way they meets their mentor who will support them along the journey. Finally, the hero must cross the threshold and enter a new world.
    • Initiation – the hero is tested by their allies and enemies, and must fight battles which involve confronting death or facing their greatest fear. They are then rewarded for their bravery and courage.
    • Return – the hero either returns home or continues the journey, bearing some element of the treasure/prize/skills that have the power to transform the world as the hero has been transformed.
  • Ask your coachee to select three cards that depict each part of the journey for them: Departure, Initiation, Return. Or, if you have time, pick 12 cards for each detailed part of the journey.
  • Watch how your coachee selects their cards. Listen carefully to the story they tell. What patterns do you see or hear? Probe the relationship between the cards/story and the coachee’s world. Work with them to identify any significance this might have to them. 
  • It might be useful to discuss how this exercise progressed. You could ask them: What did you enjoy/not enjoy. What was expected/unexpected for you? How did it feel to use the cards for storytelling?

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