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Last time I wrote, I was preparing to depart to lead my first New Warrior Training Adventure in the Southwest Area (Arizona, New Mexico, and Southwest Colorado) the part of the ManKind Project that I call home. I’d been preparing for this day for almost ten years. In the weeks leading up to it, I was excited, fearful, happy, and filled with anticipation.

My four-day hero’s journey taught me valuable lessons about connecting, character, and control.

About ten men met up to depart early in the morning. The assembled group included not only the men who would be driving together, but also partners, friends, children, and spouses who would be staying behind.

Lesson 1: Create Connection

There was a sweet joy of anticipation as we gathered – some of us rushing to be “on time” and others lingering over coffee and gourmet donuts.

Once assembled, the connection of the small community grew with each introduction and hug. Everyone shared the excitement – fear, and joy. I can only imagine the scene of early adventures departing from the safety of their communities.

The lesson for me was that a lingering goodbye allowed us to connect and build the anticipation of the adventure, and our return. I appreciated those who were staying home to attend to the ordinary, and they praised the adventurers – everyone in a community has a role to play, and the hero never goes alone.

Lesson 2: Expand Our Character

Adventures and hero’s journeys are intended to test us. Stepping out of our comfort zone strips away the layers of protection and separate us from our known world. As we step away from our known world, we get to choose whether to embody our character or persona.

per·so·na

  1. The aspect of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others.
  2. A role or character adopted by an author or an actor.

One of my personas, yes I have more than one, is “The Stoic” – I can take on any challenge and endure any amount of hardship and emotional pain. I grew this persona to protect myself as a teenager when I felt like I didn’t belong, believed I was stupid and sought to earn my place through sport.

When I’m embodying “The Stoic” I’m not a leader; I’m a tyrant that is scared of his weakness and an abusive bully with impossibly high standards.

Hit reply: How would you describe a persona you embody?

I’m happy to acknowledge, that I was able to lead from my character – inclusive caring, passionate creativity, focused and alert, and the heart of a teacher.

Lesson 3: Give Up the Illusion of Control

What a delicious illusion.

As leaders, we can lead from a place of control. And that will either limit the impact we have on the world or stifle those we seek to move, touch and inspire.

Giving up the illusion of control isn’t about abdicating responsibility. It’s about empowering and trusting others, being focused and alert noticing the choices they are making.

I was able to learn and observe creative solutions by giving up the illusion of control. And sometimes as a leader, I have to say, “no.” But it’s not nearly as often as I did early in my leadership roles.

Living a purposeful life will often send you on hero’s journeys and put you in the role of leader. My invitation is to harvest the lessons you learn along the way and enjoy returning to your comfort zone to recharge.

Live a Bold and Authentic Life

Matt

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