Tag Archives: Wanderer-Hero

The Wanderer’s Journey

Separation: The Wanderer-Hero

  • Having left home and the familiar behind, the Orphan-Hero voyages in search in search of a way to defeat the dragon, thus transforming into the Wanderer-Hero

  • Characterized by the search for individuation and personal power, the Wanderer-Hero rapidly develops adaptability, resilience and self-confidence; when she confronts the dragon, she gives chase and is reborn as “the Warrior”.

In the first act of the Hero’s Journey, an Inciting Incident forever alters an Innocent’s path, setting her upon a quest to avenge or recover that which was lost in the Dragon’s attack on her home. Up until the point of the Dragon’s attack, the Hero has had all her needs supplied by parental authority figures.

Professionally, the period of innocence may correspond to such situations as:  the safety of a high school alma mater; a stable job where we feel well within our comfort zone; or a period of entrepreneurship where our billable hours are fully booked, and our products are selling like hotcakes. Take away this security and we may indeed feel “orphaned”, left alone in the world without shelter, resources or companionship.

The Orphan’s response is to flee, to hide, and to absorb the enormity of what has happened.  In our professional Hero’s Journey, major changes may at first cause us to withdraw and seek solitude for recovery.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet famously grapples with this point of decision in his best-known soliloquy:

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. [1]

The Hero, of course, ultimately makes the choice “to be”, and “to take arms against a sea of troubles.” Having made that choice, the Orphan is reborn as the Wanderer-Hero as she acquires the resources, develops the skills and forges the alliances she will need to succeed in her Quest.

The Training Montage

The Mentor plays an important role in this next phase of the journey, providing training and tools the Hero will need to succeed in her Quest. In the seminal Hero’s Journey film Star Wars, for example, Obi Wan bequeaths Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber to Luke, and as they journey toward the Death Star where Princess Leia is held captive, Obi Wan instructs Luke in the use of the weapon.

In the career-related scenarios mentioned above, this period of instruction might include such options as:

  • upon graduation, pursuing higher education to become qualified in a specific area of professional expertise;
  • upon being “made redundant” from a seemingly secure job, hiring a career coach to help you strategize your job search;
  • upon experiencing a dropoff in billable hours or sales, hiring a marketing firm to help you build up new business.

Then again, we may lack the resources to pursue such options.  In that case, do we just give up?  Of course not.  In his article “3 Ways to Go Further, Faster,” Michael Hyatt advises:

…note that I said, “hire the best coaches and instructors you can afford” For years, the most I could afford was to check out a book from the library. Don’t worry about what you can’t afford or do. Focus, instead, on what you can afford and start there. [2]

If you are a member of Mentors and Masterminds, of course, this would include reaching out to other members here and letting them know of your situation. And if you aren’t a member yet…CLICK HERE to register. Membership is free, and always will be. Use social sites like Twitter and Facebook to let your network know you are looking for help and advice. Pick up those business books that you’ve been wanting to read, and use them as launching points for publishing your own ideas via LinkedIn or on a personal blog.

A special mention here is Toastmasters International. This organization was founded in 1927 to help its members develop crucial communication skills, and their learn-by-doing approach to both leadership and communication skills development delivers excellent results for as little as $7.50 (USD) per month, plus a one-time new member fee of only $20. [3]

The Road of Trials

The second major feature at this stage of the journey is the appearance of challengers that test the Hero’s growing skills, and magical allies that help her to overcome these challenges. In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell offers the example of Psyche’s quest to win back her beloved Cupid from the underworld:

When Psyche pleaded with Venus, the goddess … took a great quantity of wheat, barley, millet, poppy seed, peas, lentils, and beans, mingled these all together in a heap, and commanded the girl to sort them before night. Psyche was aided by an army of ants. Venus told her, next, to gather the golden wool of a certain dangerous sheep…But a green reed instructed her how to gather from the reeds round about the golden locks shed by the sheep in their passage… Psyche was instructed finally to bring from the abyss of the underworld a box full of supernatural beauty, but a high tower told her how to go down to the word below, gave her coins for Charon and sops for Cerberus, and sped her on her way. [4]

In practical terms, we may not have magical helpers who solve our problems for us, but when we approach our challenges with optimism and a generous spirit, unexpected helpers often appear on our path.  A phenomenal example of this was the recent Webathon Weekend fundraiser organized by Lucy Brazier and Executive Secretary magazine on behalf of the inimitable Vicki Sokol-Evans to assist in her fight against breast cancer; over 50 world-class trainers came together and donated their time and content in a marathon of training delivered to hundreds of administrative professionals around the world.

In my own life, I have time and again been blessed with timely assistance from unexpected places. Whether large (being awarded the Northeastern University Carl S. Ell scholarship in 1993, just when my last hope of going to college had seemed to fall apart) or small (my son offering me the use of his truck so I could get to work and back until I had funds to repair my car after it failed inspection last month), I am continually amazed at how things do always seem to somehow work out.

Giving Chase to the Dragon

Finally, there is the question of the Dragon, who is never far from the Wanderer-Hero’s thoughts. The omnipresent danger heightens her alertness, and gives her motivation to continue her training and overcome the obstacles along her path. With newfound skills and confidence, the Wanderer-Hero gives chase where the Orphan-Hero fled and hid.

QUESTIONS: Up until now, what training have you pursued or services have you engaged to further your career or business? How do you maintain a positive attitude when faced with challenges? What unexpected helpers have you found along your way?

CO-MENTORING CHALLENGE: Identify at least 3 resources – e.g. classes, coaching or business services – that could help you in achieving your goals. Discuss the options with your co-mentor and develop a strategy to pursue at least 1 of them.


[1] Shakespeare, William. “To be or not to be” speech from Hamlet

[2] Hyatt, Michael, “3 Ways to Go Further, Faster”

[3] I am not an affiliate of Toastmasters International, nor am I compensated by them in any way for making this endorsement of their organization. I am simply a satisfied customer who has received considerable personal value from their program, and who enjoys recommending it to others who may benefit from it.

[4] Campbell, Joseph, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, pp 81 – 82. New World Library, Novato, CA, 2008.

Beyond the Hero’s Journey is a series of articles that explores elements of Joseph Campbell’s classic Hero’s Journey as way to reclaim the power our professional “stories” for personal growth, and to bring the “Elixir” of our triumphs to benefit others by moving beyond the Hero archetype to become mentors in our own right. 

Beyond the Hero’s Journey is published on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at www.mentorsandmasterminds.com.

The Map and Milestones of the Hero’s Journey

The wonder is that the characteristic efficacy to touch and inspire deep creative centers dwells in the smallest nursery fairy tale – as the flavor of the ocean is contained in the droplet, or the whole mystery of life within the egg of a flea. For the symbols of mythology are not manufactured; they cannot be ordered, invented or permanently suppressed. They are spontaneous products of the psyche, and each bears within it, undamaged, the germ power of its source.

Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces 

Where do mentors come from? One answer is that mentors are those who choose to share the treasures won on their own Hero’s Journeys. To become better mentors, then, we can use the Hero’s Journey as a lens through which to reexamine our own life journeys for gems of experience which we can share. To do so, we must begin by understanding the map.

The journey itself is a deceptively simple pattern, starting with a crisis, followed by a departure from home, a transformation of character, and a homecoming. However, as the opening quote of this article implies, the journey “bears within it, undamaged, the germ power of its source.” By reframing our stories in the context of the Hero’s Journey, we not only lay claim to the talismans of Universal Truth that lie within them, but connect to the power behind that truth2. Like the Sankofa Bird of West African legend3, let us see if we can learn to use this map, retrace our steps, and seek out the treasures that have been left behind.

Stages of the Journey

In the “4-Act Story Diamond” Hero’s Journey model used for this series of articles, the hero’s journey of transformation is accomplished in four distinct stages4:

  1. Preparation
  2. Separation
  3. Initiation
  4. Return

Within this framework, each leg of the journey is a kind of miniature hero’s journey of its own, characterized by a heroic archetype that informs the hero’s choices and ultimately transforms into the hero of the journey’s next phase:

  1. Preparation: The Orphan-Hero
    • A great crisis (dragon) drives the hero from his home.
    • Characterized by risk-aversion, powerlessness, and a dependence on others, the Orphan-Hero flees from the dragon, and is reborn as “the Wanderer”.
  2. Separation: The Wanderer-Hero
    • Having left home and the familiar behind, the hero voyages in search in search of a way to defeat the dragon.
    • Characterized by the search for individuation and personal power, the Wanderer-Hero rapidly develops adaptability, resilience and self-confidence; when he confronts the dragon, he gives chase and is reborn as “the Warrior”.
  3. Initiation: The Warrior-Hero
    • With growing confidence in his Ego identity and power, the hero now approaches the the dragon’s cave, where treasure and victory await.
    • The Warrior-Hero finds the tables turned as he must submit to the dragon and be reborn as “the Martyr”.
  4. Return: The Martyr-Hero
    • The hero must now grow beyond personal power to forge or claim his TALISMAN and prevail against the dragon; transcending his ego, the Martyr-Hero journeys back home as a very different person that the Orphan who set out.
    • The Martyr-Hero confronts the dragon for a fourth and final time. Through the transcendence of his ego and re-engagement with his role in community, he integrates the dragon’s power within himself and is reborn as the Magician.

The journey in its entirety yields a valuable lesson or Talisman which the Hero can use for the benefit of himself and his community, but so too does each leg of the journey. Indeed, even within each leg of the journey are smaller moments of choice and change that ‘bear within them the germ power of the source,’ and reflect the recurring pattern of of crisis, change and transformation . When we use this tool as a lens to review the great challenges of our past, we can recover many treasures indeed from each story we take the time to explore. By collecting these talismans, we build a rich store of treasures “where neither moth nor rust consume”, from which we enrich both ourselves and, if we so choose, our communities as well.

QUESTION: What experiences have you had in your life which, in retrospect, could be described as following the pattern of the Hero’s Journey? Which archetype resonates most with you at this moment in time?

CO-MENTORING CHALLENGE: Choose a problem you are facing right now and pick the archetype that most closely describes how you are responding to that challenge. Explore together ways that you can move past that challenge and move toward integration and claiming of your power in this situation, including the personal growth you may need to experience along the way. Commit to one concrete action you can take in this direction between now and your next co-mentoring session and report back on results when you meet again.


  1. Campbell, Joseph, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, pp. 1 – 2.
  2. Baron-Reid, Collette, The Map: Finding the Magic and Meaning in the Story of Your Life, pp. 111 – 112.
  3. I first learned of the Sankofa Legend from Dr. Frank Robinson, who used this motif as a key theme in his 2015 Martin Luther King Day speech at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA. See also: Wikipedia, “Sankofa” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sankofa.
  4. Ferguson, Andrew, The Four-Act Story Diamond. http://rageagainstthepage.blogspot.com/2006/01/4-act-story-diamond.html

For another excellent overview of the Hero’s Journey (and a terrific “Recommended Reading” list), see Nina Munteau’s 2-part article on the subject at blogspot:

Beyond the Hero’s Journey is a series that explores elements of Joseph Campbell’s classic Hero’s Journey as way to reclaim the power our professional “stories” for personal growth, and to bring the “Elixir” of our triumphs to benefit others by moving beyond the Hero archetype to become mentors in our own right.
Beyond the Hero’s Journey is published on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at www.mentorsandmasterminds.com.