Over a decade ago, I had a great discussion with an old friend about writing, publishing, story structure, and the difference between two types of writers; “Pantsers” and “Outliners.” Pantsers write by the seat of their pants and grow queasy with any mention of an outline or planning, and Outliners develop the shakes without an agenda to follow. There’s no right way nor a wrong way. As with many things, I fall smack dab in the middle of the two. The artist in me desires the autonomy of free expression and no rules when I write. However, the even-keeled, disciplined part of my head requires at least some signposts along the way to reassure me.
Fire up Google, and you’ll find no shortage of tools and diagrams to peruse storytelling. Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, almost cliche at this point, will populate your search results. Long ago, I married a few concepts together to create a storyboard template. I used the boxes above each stage to map the story I was working on that I knew lacked something but couldn’t figure out what. Using this method made it painfully clear that my story fell apart at the beginning of ACT III.
I used this template to help find and fix a writing structure problem. While The Hero’s Journey Template is a great way to map a story and find holes in its structure, it can also be a powerful tool in your leadership journey.
Give your leadership life some thought and retell it through a storyboard. If you’re the hero, and a year is a three-act play, how’s your performance? Look at each box on the template below and jot down your memories from the prior twelve months. What can you learn? Although there are twelve boxes on the template, it’s doubtful each month will correspond to each phase of your story — but what if it did?
What if you made the time to script your leadership development proactively? Isn’t there a change on the horizon that you need to make or lead? I challenge you to prepare for it using The Hero’s Journey Template. Sketch something out, whether you’re artistic or not. Turn it into a mind map if you prefer, or be traditional and use it as an outline to test your assumptions before you embark.
Consider the following:
- What is the current state of your leadership?
- How will you increase your awareness?
- What makes you or others reluctant?
- How could you overcome that reluctance?
- How could you, as a leader, show commitment to change?
- How could you experiment with the change?
- How will you prepare for the inevitable challenges you’ll face as a leader?
- How will you launch the initiative?
- How will you praise progress and learn from setbacks?
- When things get tough, how will you rededicate yourself to your purpose and mission?
- How will you know you’ve succeeded?
- How will you celebrate?
If you are a “Pantser,” this may not come easy. That’s okay; use this as an outline; you’re worth the extra effort.
You can download The Hero’s Journey Template below.