“While Michelangelo was having the tomb of Julius II finished, he gave directions to a stone-cutter: “Cut away this today, smooth out in this place, and polish up in that.” In the course of time, without being aware of it, the man found that he had produced a statue, and stared astonished at his own performance. Michelangelo asked, “What do you think of it?” “I think it very good,” he answered, “and I owe you a deep debt of gratitude.” “Why do you say that?” asked Michelangelo, “Because you have caused me to discover in myself a talent which I did not know that I possessed” – Life of Michelangelo, Giorgio Vasari, 1508
With relatively few variations, heroes and heroines tell stories about basically five major subjects.
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 Work
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.
“The panel took five days of concentrated work. Michelangelo alone was not permitted to apply paint. He was torn: part of him felt that though he had been in the studio for only three months he was as qualified to work the wall as the other thirteen-year-olds. At the same time an inner voice kept telling him that all of this feverish activity had nothing to do with him. Even when he felt most unhappy about being excluded, he wanted to run out of the choir and the studio to a world of his own” From Irving Stone’s The Agony and the Ecstasy
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?
“Standing before the brilliant panel, the boy realized that Ghirlandaio loved Florence. The city was his religion. He was spending his life painting its people, its palaces, its exquisitely decorated rooms, its architecture and streets thronging with life. And what an eye he had. Nothing escaped him. Michelangelo walked out of the church feeling depressed. The forms were superb; but where was the substance? His eyes hazed over as he tried to formulate words to shape the thoughts pushing against each other inside his head. He too wanted to learn how to set down accurately what he saw. But what he felt about what he saw would always be more important” From Irving Stone’s The Agony and the Ectasy
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.)
The Hero’s Journey
- Start Date: You can start at any date
- Duration: Five weeks
- Time: 1 hour/week Zoom/Skype meeting
- Form: online personal coaching with Peter de Kuster
- Price: Euro 599 excluding VAT
Reserve your ticket at email@example.com or 00-31-6-33661772
In this groundbreaking new hero’s journey in Michelangelo’s Florence and Rome we examine 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. 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 our work, our families and relationships, our health; 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 are dysfunctional, in need of serious editing. First, we ask 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?” We then show 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.
For decades, at the Hero’s Journey has been examining the power of story to increase passion and performance. Thousands of individuals from every walk of life have sought out and benefited from our life-altering stories.
Our capacity to tell stories is one of our profoundest gifts. The Hero’s Journey 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.
What Can I Expect?
Here’s an outline of the THE HERO’S JOURNEY
DAY ONE: OLD STORIES
- Your Story Is Your Life
- Your Life Is Your Story
- What is your Story?
- Your Hero’s Journey
- Is This Really Your Story?
- The Private Voice
- The Three Rules of Storytelling
- They Lived Happily Ever After?
- They Lived Happily Ever After!
- Are you even trying to tell a Story?
- Tell your current Story
DAY TWO: YOUR NEW STORY
- A Quest is Never Forgettable
- The Premise of your Story.
- The words on your tombstone
- You ultimate mission, out loud
- Questioning the Premise
- Lining up
- Flawed Alignment, Tragic Ending
- Write Your New Story
DAY THREE: TURNING STORY INTO ACTION
- Turning your story into action
- The Story Effect
- Story Ritualizing
- The Storyteller and the art of story
- The Power of Your Story
- Storyboarding your creative process
- They Created and Lived Happily Ever After
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.
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.