Recently I had a sister-friend throw-down on me about my love of superwoman. She gave me endless beef and told me that I was all kinds of jacked up for loving the heroic journey.
And after talking with her….I kind of agree. I kind of think the Heroic Journey is full of crap.
So in training leaders worldwide we use the heroic journey (spoiler alert!). I have loved this ever since I first read Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, back in High School. It has helped me so much to understand my own life, different segments of “what the crap is this awful that’s going on now???”, and what my responsibilities were (and are) as I make my way through. I love it. I love it I love it I love it. And…it’s most definitely a masculine archetype.
Ok, for those of you that are not obsessed with superheroes, let me explain the heroic journey a bit. Basically, it’s like what Frodo, Luke Skywalker, Simba, and Nemo and Marlin went on. It’s a journey from the call to action, through some friends and some trials, into the abyss or the “belly of the whale” (in Marlin and Dory’s case, literally), through a transformation, and back into the world with some gift. It’s, you know, what every hero goes on.
And it’s not what every heroine goes on.
Enter the beef.
So my sister-friend that called me out on this? She sent me an amazing article about her problems with it. And, basically, she said she hated the heroic journey, because it was all about “me, me, me,” and the rest of the world be dammed. And she said that that was crap, and a terrible way to go about things, and not at all what we should be doing these days.
Oh, I love her so.
Ok, invitation to look back on every heroine journey that you’ve heard of. For me, given the ages of my three kiddos, that’s mostly Disney princesses and Avengers. Can you think of their journeys? From Merida to Wonder Woman to Anna and Elsa, these ladies all had one thing that the heroes neglected. They had friends.
Yep. Friends. And let’s unpack that, because I hear some howls.
So Frodo in his wanderings clearly had the Fellowship. And yet…at the crucial moments in the story, Frodo went on his tortured path alone. Same with Luke and, of course, Simba – the talking in the sky with daddio Mufasa had a guide, and other than that it was Simba and Simba alone. The menfolk? At the crucial moments of transformation, those moments when they went into the abyss and found themselves – they did it solo.
Not so much with those heroines.
Merida? She had both Angus, her horse (animal friends tend to loom large in the lives of heroines – call it the Women Who Run With the Wolves syndrome) – and she also had her mom. Who, conveniently, also ended up as an animal friend. Wonder Woman? She didn’t find her true powers until she accepted the love and companionship of the collective. And Anna and Elsa, perhaps my most fave because it’s a sister duo that does the saving – they clearly had friends (hello Olaf, Sven, and each other) throughout the whole process. And in those crucial moments of transformation? It was with someone else. Wonder Woman reaches her heart out to Steve. Cinderella hangs with the mice. Anna and Elsa literally call forth both of their transformations together, and Merida becomes Merida while pushing herself deeper into the fur of her bear mom.
Heroines transform together. And oh…we have so much to learn from that.
As we’ve personally seen in our programs developing leaders worldwide, we desperately need each other. Why? Because leadership dies in isolation. And “friends and helpers” along this solo heroic journey path just don’t cut it. Because all of us, every single one, is on a heroic journey every day of our lives – and the only way we can remember that, be pushed harder than we thought possible, and achieve the impossible? It’s with fellow superwomen, shooting off together.
So let’s amend that heroic journey. Because, while it worked in the purely masculine world, now that we’re all starting to accept the power of the feminine…it just doesn’t quite fit anymore. Let’s add in a few soul sisters as we set out on that path – because the word sister comes from the word for community, and that is something that every leader desperately needs. (Want more on that heroine’s journey? Check out our Heroine’s Journey YouTube Video explaining each part).