13 – 15 January 2023 The Hero’s Journey in Paris: The Power of Your Story

The Hero’s Journey in Paris : The Power of Your Story

In this Hero’s Journey in Paris you will examine with Peter de Kuster, founder of The Hero’s Journey the way we tell stories about ourselves to ourselves — and, most important, the way we can change those stories to transform our business and personal lives.

“Your story is your life,” says Peter. As human beings, we continually tell ourselves stories — of success or failure; of power or victimhood; stories that endure for an hour, or a day, or an entire lifetime. We have stories about ourselves, our creative business, our customers ; about what we want and what we’re capable of achieving. Yet, while our stories profoundly affect how others see us and we see ourselves, too few of us even recognize that we’re telling stories, or what they are, or that we can change them — and, in turn, transform our very destinies.

Telling ourselves stories provides structure and direction as we navigate life’s challenges and opportunities, and helps us interpret our goals and skills. Stories make sense of chaos; they organize our many divergent experiences into a coherent thread; they shape our entire reality. And far too many of our stories, says Peter, are dysfunctional, in need of serious editing. First, he asks you to answer the question, “In which areas of my life is it clear that I cannot achieve my goals with the story I’ve got?” He then shows you how to create new, reality-based stories that inspire you to action, and take you where you want to go both in your work and personal life.

Our capacity to tell stories is one of our profoundest gifts. Peter’s approach to creating deeply engaging stories will give you the tools to wield the power of storytelling and forever change your business and personal life.

Join us for a truly transformational vacation for the mind.

This three day hero’s journey costs Euro 2.850 excl. VAT per person

When you come with three of more people there are special prices

You can reach Peter for a skype meeting about questions you have by mailing him at theherojourneyquestionnaires@gmail.com

TIMETABLE

09.40    Tea & Coffee on arrival

10.00     Morning Session

13.00     Lunch Break

14.00     Afternoon Session

18.00     Drinks

Read on for a detailed breakdown of The Hero’s Journey in Paris itinerary.

What Can I Expect?

Here’s an outline of the Hero’s Journey in Paris 

Journey Outline

OLD STORIES

  • Your Story is Your Life
  • Your Life is Your Story
  • What is your Story?
  • Your Quest 
  • The Private Voice

YOUR NEW STORY

  • A Quest is Never Forgettable
  • The Three Rules of Storytelling
  • Do You Have the Resources To Live Your Best Life?
  • Indoctrinate Yourself 
  • The Story Effect 

TURNING STORY INTO ACTION

  • The Four Story Scenario’s
  • Your New Story

About Peter de Kuster

Peter de Kuster is the founder of The Heroine’s Journey & Hero’s Journey project,  a storytelling firm which helps creative professionals to create careers and lives based on whatever story is most integral to their lives and careers (values, traits, skills and experiences). Peter’s approach combines in-depth storytelling and marketing expertise, and for over 20 years clients have found it effective with a wide range of creative business issues.

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Peter is writer of the series The Heroine’s Journey and Hero’s Journey books, he has an MBA in Marketing,  MBA in Financial Economics and graduated at university in Sociology and Communication Sciences.

Old Stories  

Your Life is Your Story (Musee Rodin)

Story is everywhere in life. Perhaps your story is that you are responsible for the happiness and livelihoods of dozens of people around you and you are the unappreciated hero. If you are focused on one subplot – your business – then maybe your story is that you sincerely want to execute the major initiatives in your company, yet you are restricted in some essential way. Maybe your story is that you must keep chasing even though you already seem to have a lot (even too much) because the point is to get more and more of it – money, prestige, power, control, attention. Maybe your story is that you and your children just can’t connect. Or your story might be essentially a rejection of another story – and everything you do is filtered through that rejection.

Story is everywhere. Your body tells a story. The smile or frown on your face, your shoulders thrust back in confidence or slumped roundly in despair, the liveliness or fatigue in your gait, the sparkle of hope and joy in your eyes or the blank stare, your fitness, the size of your gut, the tone and strength of your physical being, your overall presentation – those are all part of your story, one that’s especially apparant to everyone else. We judge books by their covers not simply because we are wired to judge quickly but because the cover so often provides astonishing accurate clues to what is going on inside. What is your story about your physical self? Does it truly work for you? Can it take you where you want to go in the short term? How about ten years from now? What about thirty?

You have a story about your company, though your version may depart wildly from your customer’s or business partners. You have a story about your family. Anything that consumes our energy can be a story, even if we don’t always call it a story. There is the story of your relationship. The story of you and food, or you and anger, or you and impossible dreams. The story of you, the friend. The story of you,  your father’s son or your mother’s daughter. Some of these stories work and some of them fail. According to my experience, an astounding number of these stories, once they are identified are deemed tragic – not by me, mind you but by the people living them.

Like it or not, there will be a story around your death. What will it be? Will you die a senseless death? Perhaps you drank too much and failed to buckle your seat belt and were thrown from your car, or you died from colon cancer because you refused to undergo an embarrassing colonoscopy years before when the disease was treatable. Or after years of bad nutrition, no exercise, and abuse of your body, you suffered a fatal heart attack at age fifty – nine.  ‘Senseless death’ means that it did not have to happen when it happened;  it means your story did not have to end the way it ended. Think about the effect the story of your senseless death might have on your family, on those you care about who  you are leaving behind. How would that story impact their life stories? Ask yourself, Am I okay dying a senseless death?  Your immediate reaction is almost certainly, “No!, of course not!

Unhealthy storytelling is characterized by a diet of faulty thinking and, ultimately,  long – term negative consequences. This undetectable, yet inexorable progression is not unlike what happens to coronary arteries from a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet. In the body, the consequence of such a diet is hardening of the arteries. In the mind, the consequence of bad storytelling is hardening of the categories, narrowing of the possibilities, calcification of perception. Both roads lead to tragedy, often quietly.

The cumulative effect of our damaging stories will have tragic consequences on our health, engagement, performance and happiness. Because we can’t confirm the damage our defective storytelling is wreaking, we disregard it, or veto our gut reactions to make a change. Then one day we awaken to the reality that we have become cynical, negative, angry. That is now who we are. Though we never quite saw it coming, that is now our true story.

We enjoy the privilege of being the hero, the final author of the story we write with our life, yet we possess a marvelous capacity to give ourselves only a supporting role in the ‘storytelling’ process, while ascribing the premier, dominant role to the markets, our family, our kids, fate, chance, genetics.  Getting our stories straight in life does not happen without our understanding that the most precious resource that we human beings possess is our energy.  

It is our storytelling that drives the way we gather and spend our energy. Stories determine our personal and professional destinies. And the most important story you will ever tell about yourself is the story you tell to yourself. 

So, you would better examine your story, especially this one that is supposedly the most familiar of all. Participate in your story rather than observing it from afar, make sure it is a story that compels you. Tell yourself the right story – the rightness of which only you can really determine, only you can really feel – and the dynamics of your energy change. If you are finally living the story you want, then it need not – it should not and won’t – be an ordinary one. It can and will be extraordinary. After all you are not just the author of your story but also its main character the hero. Heroes are never ordinary.

In the end your story is not a tragedy. Nor is it a comedy or a romance or a thriller or a drama. It is something else. What label would you give the story of your life, the most important story you will ever tell. To me that sounds like a hero’s journey.

End of story.

What is Your Story?

With relatively few variations, heroes and heroines tell stories about basically five major subjects.

  1. Business
  2. Family
  3. Health
  4. Friendships
  5. Happiness

By asking yourself basic questions about how you feel about what you do and how you conduct yourself – and by trying honestly to answer them, of course – you begin to identify the dynamics of your story.

Your Story around your Business

You have a story to tell about your passion for your work and what it means for you. And because more than half our waking life is consumed by working at your business, how we frame this story is critical to our chance for passion and happiness.

How do you characterize your relationship to your work? Is it a burden or a joy? Deep fulfillment or an addiction? What compels you to get up every day and go to work? The money? Is the driving force increased prestige, power, social status? A sense of intrinsic fulfillment? The contribution you are making? Is it an end in itself or a means to something else? Do you feel forced to work or called to work? Are you completely engaged at work? How much of your talent and skill are fully ignited?

What is the dominant tone of your story – inspired? challenged? disappointed? trapped? overwhelmed?

Does the story you currently tell about work take you where you want to go in life? If your story about work is not working, what story do you tell yourself to justify it, especially given the tens of thousands of hours it consumes?

Suppose you did not need the money: Would you continue to go to work every day? Write down five things about working at your business that, if money were no issue, you would like to continue.

Your Story Around Family 

What is your story about your family life? In the grand scheme, how important is family to you?  So … is your current story about family working? Is the relationship with your husband, wife, or significant other where you want it to be? Is it even close to where you want it to be? Or is there an unbridgeable gap between the level of intimacy, connection and intensity you  feel with him or her and the level you would like to experience?

Is your story with your children working? How about your parents? Your sibblings? Other family members?

If you continue on your same path, what is the relationship you are likely to have, years from now with each of your family members? If your story is not working with one or more key individuals, then what is the story you tell yourself to allow this pattern to persist? To what extent do you blame your business for keeping you from fully engaging with your family? (really?) Your business is the reason you are disengaged from the most important thing in your life, the people who matter most to you? How does that happen? According to your current story, is it even possible to be fully engaged at work and also with your family?

Your Story Around Health

What is your story about your health? What kind of job have you done taking care of yourself? What value do you place on your health, and why? If you continue on your same path, then what will be the likely health consequences? If you are not fully engaged with your health, then what is the story you tell yourself and others – particularly your spouse, your kids, your doctor, your colleagues and anyone who might look up to you – that allows you to persist in this way? If suddenly you awoke to the reality that your health was gone, what would be the consequences for you and all those you care about? How would you feel if the end of your story was dominated by one fact – that you had needlessly died young?

Do you consider your health just one of several important stories about yourself but hardly toward the top? Does it crack the top three? top five? If you have been overweight, or consistently putting on weight the last several years; if you smoke; if you eat poorly; if you rest infrequently and never deeply; if you rarely, if ever, exercise; what is the story you tell yourself that explains how you deal, or don’t deal, with these issues? Is it a story with a rhyme or reason? Do you believe that spending time exercising or otherwise taking care of yourself, particularly during the workday, sets a negative example for others?

Given your physical being and the way you present yourself, do you think the story you are telling is the same one that others are hearing? Could it be vastly different, when seen through their eyes?

Your Story about Friends

What is your story about friendship? According to your story, how important are friends? How fully engaged are your with them? (that is don’t calculate in your mind simply how often you see them but what you do and how you are when you’re together). If close friendships are important to you, yet they are clearly not happening in your life, what is the story you tell yourself that obstructs this from happening?

To what extent are friendships important to your realizing what you need and want from life? If you have few or no friends, why is that? Is this a relatively recent development – that is, something that happened since you got married for example, or had a family, or got more consumed by work, or got promoted, or got divorced, or experienced a significant loss, or moved away from your hometown?

When you think of your closest friendships over the last five years, can you say any of them has grown and deepened? People who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their work, get more done in less time, have fewer accidents and are more likely to innovate and share new ideas.

Suppose you had no friends – what would that be like? This may seem like a morbid exercise but write down three ways in which being completely friendless might make your life poorer (no one to turn to in times of crisis and celebration, no one to mourn your passing, etc.)  

Your Quest

Who has a why to live, can bear with almost any how.

When you have a great passion, it dramatically changes your willingness to spend energy and take risk.  When the stakes are a large sum of money people don’t take great risks. When the stakes are love and life and that which has incalculable value, people go the extra mile.

A great passion is the epicenter of everyone’s hero’s journey story. Passion is one of the three foundations of good storytelling  

Without passion, no character in a book, or movie or in art would do anything interesting, meaningful, memorable, worthwhile. Without passion, our hero’s journey story has no meaning. It has no coherence, no direction, no inexorable momentum. Without passion, our life still ‘moves’ along – whatever that means, but it lacks an organizing principle. Without passion, it is all but impossible to be fully engaged. To be extraordinary.

With passion, on the other hand, people do amazing things: good, smart, productive things, often heroic things, unprecedented things.  Passion is the thing in your hero’s journey you will fight for. It is the ground you will defend at any cost. Passion is not the same as ‘incentive’, but rather the motor behind it, the end that drives why you have energy for some things and not for others.

I have seen many seen articulate their passion to themselves and to others. But articulation is not nearly enough; in fact it is really not even worth of a pat on the back, so long as one continues to live one’s life in a way that does very little, if anything, to support that passion. Indeed, to say you have a passion and then to do nothing about it is, first, a sham, and, last, a tragedy.

Most people who have been living in this way, when inspired to be passionate, will quickly identify what they claim to be their true passion in life. 

To find one’s true passion sometimes takes work. Fortunately, the skill it requires is one that every person is blessed with.

For a few people, naming one’s passion comes with remarkable ease. The individual feels it in the deepest part of his or her soul; the passion has always been there, even if it got lost for a very long while, remaining unexpressed to oneself and to those who are the objects of one’s passion. Deep enduring passion is virtually always motivated by a desire for the well-being of others.

You know passion when you see it.

To author a workable, fulfilling new story, you will need to ask yourself many questions and then answer them, none more important than those that concern passion. Passion is the sail on the boat, the yeast in the bread. Once you know your passion – that is, what matters – then everything else can fall into place. Getting your passion clear is your defining truth. What is the passion of your life? Whatever it is, it had better be someting for which you will move mountains, cross deserts, seven days a week, no questions asked.

Once you find your passion, you have a chance to live a story that moves you and those around you. A story that make them live happily ever after.  

The Private Voice

Is your private voice yours?  Are you sure about that? To help determine this, and whether your private voice is working for or against you, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1.  What is the general tone of your inner voice?  Harsh, bitter and critical? Or supportive, kind and encouraging?
  2. Estimate how much of the time your inner voice is a constructive force in your life, and how much a destructive one. To what extent does it instill you with confidence and hope? To what extent does it terrorize you with stories of inadequacy, incompetence and regret?
  3. Ever feel that your inner voice is not really you speaking? If it does not feel like you, whose voice might it be? Consider both content and tone.
  4. To help you achieve real happiness and to leave the legacy you desire for those you care about most, what changes would you make in the content and tone of your private voice?
  5. To what extent is your private voice aligned with your ultimate mission in life? What seems to be the driving force behind your private voice? Where is it taking you?

The stories we tell and hear embed themselves more deeply in our subconsciousness the more they are repeated.

In the end though, it is only the one voice that truly matters. Because your inner voice is telling you your story all the time, you are rarely even conscious that you have been telling a story. Indeed it is hard to imagine what it would feel like if suddenly you stopped telling yourself your story, or even just changed this one.

A QUEST IS NEVER FORGETTABLE

A story’s primary intention is to move the audience emotionally. Story is the vehicle through which the movement occurs. Story is what stirs us, terrifies us, breaks our heart. A boring story fails because it doesn’t move us, doesn’t tap our capacity for empathy. Think of the very best stories you’ve ever seen or read or heard, and you remember the depth of your feeling for one or more of the characters.

That’s what happens when we craft your new stories. These stories, finally, move their authors – and others, too – the way great movies do. We feel the potential for heroism in what the author/main character aspires to. If you’re seriously going to write a story powerful enough to get you to do great things, then you’ve got to create a quest and a story so compelling that you are moved to make those corrections in your life, and make them for good.

The only way a story can achieve that level of transformative power is when it supports an unassailable quest.

If I asked you what your quest was, how would you know you had got it right? First and last, does it move you? Really, really move you? Some quests are so obviously faulty that the individual can smoke it out by himself or herself. But other quests sound very, very good, so neat, so on message – and yet they’re not quite THE quest. That is why finding one’s true quest is an exercise that requires real commitment and the courage to be honest with oneself.

An ultimate quest is never small. It is never minor. it can’t be, by definition. It is grand, heroic, epic. You never put your life on the line for something not fully aligned with your Ultimate Quest.

THE THREE RULES OF STORYTELLING

Purpose, truth, action.

When writers really want to emphasize something, they put it in a one sentence paragraph. If they suspect even that is not emphasis enough, then they go to Plan B: break things up into still more melodramatic, one-word paragraphs.

Purpose.

Truth.

Action.

All good storytelling coheres around those three ideas. They are the three criteria, taken together, by which we judge the workability and ultimate success of our story. With those three principles in your pocket, you can summon your best story to live. You are virtually guaranteed to keep your story vital, moving, productive, fulfilling.

Let us review them:

Purpose

What is my ultimate purpose? What am I living for? What principle, what goal, what end? For my whole life, and every single day? Why do I do what I do? For what? What is the thing that would get me to be fully engaged, and to be sure and at peace that it is the right decision, the necessary one, the only one? What is the thing I am driving toward – or should be – with every action I take? Have I articulated to myself my deepest values and beliefs, which are the bedrock of who I am and which must be inextricably tied to my purpose (and vice versa)? Who do I want to be at the end? What legacy do I want to leave? What epitath about myself could ‘I live with’?  When all is said is done, how do I want to be remembered? What is non- negotiable in my life? What do I believe must happen for me to have lived a successful life? Is my story taking me where I want to go? Is it “on – purpose”?  Consistently? And why am I telling this story? What is the real motive? Is my purpose noble or ignoble?

Truth

Is the story I am telling true? Does it conform to known facts? Is it grounded in objective reality as fully as possible; that is, does it coincide with some generally agreed-upon portrayal of the world? Or is it true only if I’m living in a dreamland? Is it a lie I tell myself when I think, ‘This is the way the world is’ – my own, probably biased evaluation of things, one that is dubiously defensible, and which I repeat to myself because it provides false comfort for the way my life has turned out? Do I sidestep the parts of my story that are obviously untrue because they are just too painful to confront? Is my story I still believe when I really dig down, when I listen to my most candid, private voice, when I do my best to shut out other influences and hear instead what I genuinely think and feel? Which is the truer statement: My story is honest and authentic or My story is made up?  Is my story closer to a documentary or a work of fantasy? What myths am I perpetuating that could potentially steal my fate in areas of my life that really matter?

Action

A good story is premised on action … is it mine? With my purpose firmly in mind, along with a confidence about what is really true, what actions will I now take to make things better, so that my ultimate purpose and my day-to-day life are better aligned? What habits do I need to eliminate? What new ones do I need to breed? Is more of my life spent participating or observing? Are my actions filled with hope – hope that I will succeed, hope that the change I seek is realistically within my grasp? Or is my ‘action-taking’ really more accurately portrayed as ‘going through the motions’? Do I believe to my core that, in the end, my willingness to follow through with action will determine the success of my life? Do I believe that if I act with commitment and consistency I will end up where I want to be, where I have always felt I am capable of being? Does the story I tell myself move me to action? Does it inspire hope and determination in me? Am I confident that I can make any necessary course correction, no matter what stage of life I am in, no matter how many times I may have failed at it in the past? Do I proceed in the belief that I will never surrender in this effort because my happiness and success as a human being is what is at stake?

One must hold one’s story up as if against a three – part checklist: your story must have purpose (can you name it?), your story must be true (is it?), your story must lead to hope-filled action (does it?). 

When a hero achieves a breakthrough, it is always – always – because he or she has come to a fundamental understanding of the interlocked nature of all three rules of storytelling. It is nog good enough to satisfy one or even two of the three rules and content yourself that your story has now improved; it will not leave you 33% better off or 67% better off. More likely, you may have fulfilled one or even two of the three rules but because all three rules are not followed, your story remains dysfunctional.

While one needs to understand deeply each of the three rules of storytelling, not all rules are created equally. Truth and action probably give people more trouble than purpose.  For example, what about those people who have purpose nailed…. but not action? This is probably the most common of the permutations, and in some ways the most tragic. In this group you find the novelists who have yet to set pen to paper, lovers who are single and celibate, entrepreneurs who don’t know the first thing about how to attract customers.

DO YOU HAVE THE RESOURCES TO LIVE YOUR BEST STORY?

Without proper exercise, nutrition and rest, the body slowly begins to break. You are operating at a perpetual deficit. You are always exhausted. You are seriously disengaged. Your body is now in survival mode. Your stories change. To rationalize how and why this happened requires that, at some fork in the road, smart people must become suddenly stupid; pragmatics, illogical; straight shooters. There are other, totally defensible stories that bring us to this overtaxed point of course – lots of responsibility, good intentions, aging, ambition, sudden change in circumstance – but they are almost never the whole of the story.

You tell yourself things you cannot possibly believe.  In an impoverished physical condition, how can you hope to live a good story? How can you hope to have the energy even to figure out what that story is?

Our physical state influences the stories we tell

Do you think the story you tell changes if one or more of the following conditions is true?

  •  You are tired or fatigued
  •  You have low blood sugar
  •  You have a headache
  •  You are ill
  •  You are in pain

Of course it does! When your physical story changes as by a sudden drop in blood sugar – then your whole story changes.

Many of us know that losing weight on a traditional diet is terribly difficult. One reason for this is that the story most people are telling themselves – lose weight and look better – is frankly not exactly a narrative for the ages. As a life goal for far too many people the objective of losing twenty or forty or even one hundred pounds simply to look better is just not compelling enough. Many who fail at losing weight that way have lost it when their motivation changes to something more urgent, powerful and transcendent – lose weight to be around for your grandchildren; lose weight so you will not be wheel-chair bound the last portion of your life; lose weight to improve your changes of making great journeys in world cities :). By finding motivation from a higher, passionate source or mission, you can affect your physical energy too.

The body we start out with is capable of wonderful things. But if we wish to achieve something truly extraordinary in our lives – be it athletic, intellectual, social, artistic, professional – we must build on this ‘standard – edition’ body and invest it with extraordinary energy.

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