When I was coaching motivational workshops, I saw a lot of people who were ‘workshop junkies'; they’d be landing from workshop to workshop, seemingly learning loads, but never really producing fantastic results in their own lives.
While my fellow coaches and I discussed many reasons as to why, lately I realized another elegant way it could be explained using the metaphor of The Hero’s Journey.
In The Hero’s Journey series, I called The Extraordinary World ‘The New World’, but for this article it’s more accurate to call it by what happens in it; The World of Transformation. In The Ordinary World, you remain the same person, it’s in The World of Transformation that you’re challenged and stretched out of your comfort zone to grow into someone new.
Motivational Workshops As A Mini Hero’s Journey
Motivational workshops, especially ones that take place over a few days, and are immersive, introspective and challenging, are like a mini Hero’s Journey. In fact, a few are specially designed to be that way.
You, the participant, start out from your ordinary world, and cross the threshold into the training place, full of new people and activities you’ve never done before. You encounter coaches and trainers, as well as fellow particpants who’ll help and challenge you.
If the workshop is particularly introspective and challenging, you’ll face doubts and demons during the times you stretch yourself. You come across ordeals against your limits, and you have to overcome them in order to seize the treasures of the workshop, whether it’s increased confidence, better public speaking skills, expert knowledge or learning more about yourself.
After the course is over, you return with your newfound treasures back to your ordinary world, to integrate them back into your life so that it’s enriched by your experience.
How Heroes Get Stuck
People become stuck when they’re unable to take the treasures they seized from The World of Transformation and integrate them back into The Ordinary World.
While some turn cynical and blame the workshop, techniques or themselves for not being able to use the skills they learnt in The Ordinary World, some seek the thrill, energy and dynamicism of the workshop environment again and again, going back to The World of Transformation, through new helpers and challengers, new supreme ordeals and treasures.
But as long as they cannot take these new treasures back into The Ordinary World and their ordinary lives, they’re stuck.
They’re always looking for the next big thing, the next big technique or revelation that should change their lives, never taking what they’ve already learnt to produce results right now.
I should know, I used to see this person in the mirror
Your Treasure: Use It or Lose It
While you might have extraordinary experiences in The World of Transformation, eventually you return home and live in The Ordinary World. You have to integrate the inner and outer treasures you’ve earned when you come back into The Ordinary World or they’re lost.
Another example is someone who’s gone on a tour (The World of Transformation) and had the experience of their lives. Now they’re back in their home country, how do they go on? The mundane minutiae of everyday life can hardly compare to their recent grand Hero’s Journey.
But those who do, are able to take the expansion of their experience into their everyday life, perhaps what seemed to be mundane isn’t so after all, and they’re able to look at old things in a new light.
But those who remain stuck in an inauthentic state will not see the joy in the mundane any longer, they cannot bring back the same sense of wonder from The World of Transformation back into their ordinary life. Instead, they must go back on the road again and again, seeking the high of being in The World of Transformation, without ever being able to bring that same joy back to The Ordinary World of their lives.
How Heroes Get Unstuck
Using the NLP presupposition that underlying every behaviour is a positive intention, we can see that even an addiction has a positive intent.
In my experience with workshop junkies, it’s become very clear these stuck heroes are fulfilling very worthwhile needs in ineffective ways.
The fastest way for workshop addicts to wean themselves off is recognize the needs they’re meeting by going to these workshops, and to find ways to do that in The Ordinary World.
If going to workshops is the only way for someone to get in touch with themselves, for example, then stop going to workshops, take a day off and get in touch with yourself.
If going to workshops is the only thing making you feel a sense of achievement, stop going and find a way to achieve in your own life.
If going to a workshop is the only way you can find to make a difference in your life, stop, and find a way to make a difference in your own life.
If you’ve gone through the Supreme Ordeal, you already have Seized Your Treasure. Only when you use those treasures in your Ordinary World and make it extraordinary, will you leave the cycle of being stuck in The World of Transformation, and embark on the next leg of your Hero’s Journey.
Free Hero’s Journey mini e-book
If you haven’t downloaded it yet, my Hero’s Journey mini e-book is avaliable free for readers of Life Coaches Blog:
The Hero’s Journey mini e-book
while a summary of The Hero’s Journey is here.