The Heroic Journey

After I posted about our Soldiers To Summits training that we held last month, several people asked me about our selection of the Heroic Journey metaphor as the overarching theme of the program. A lot of the credit for that belongs to Peter Bailey, who is Senior Vice President at the Prouty Project.

The Prouty Project is a consulting firm founded by Jeff Prouty in Minneapolis that specializes in training executives and management teams around the world. The company has been a longtime supporter of No Barriers and has helped us with many fundraising efforts such as a recent event where we climbed Quandary Peak, one of Colorado’s 14ers, with more than 20 supporters from the Prouty Project community. Last year they brought five teams to the Adventure TEAM Challenge as part of their annual Prouty Stretch Project, and had the adventure of a lifetime!

And in the early years of No Barriers, the Prouty Project donated a weekend when our board gathered in Minneapolis, and guided by their facilitators, developed a flight plan for our future and how to get there. As we were developing a curriculum for S2S, Peter and his team again stepped up to help us. Peter is intimately familiar with the Heroic Journey concept because it was the subject of his master’s thesis when he was studying experiential education. This paradigm developed by Joseph Campbell is indeed a perfect match for the struggles that our disabled soldiers face.

This diagram that Peter created shows the ten major stages of the Heroic Journey:

1.      Begin the Journey

    Preparation is everything. Become strong—in body, mind, heart and spirit.

3.      Discern with care the call to adventure. See possibility in precipitating events.

4.      When we cross the threshold, we surrender to choice, and we must have a good answer for the Guardians at the Gate who question our intentions and convictions.

5.      On the Road of Challenges, we meet our new teachers and our hardest assignments. This is where we will surely be tested.

6.      The Gift or the Accomplishment
 is the moment when we know why we have come, when our skills have matched the challenges, and we are filled with purpose and joy!

    Upon our Return, we are elated with our accomplishments. But we are also at risk of the dangers of the down-climb.

    When we Come Home, our self-focused elation meets the Guardians of the Gate, who once again question our intentions and convictions.

9.      Finding the balance between our Two Worlds, we return home to our point of origin with a better sense of who we are, what we have been through and what we can go through.

10.    We begin the next journey with learning from the last, and this time we seek and recognize the allies everywhere to help us. The greatest gift of all is when we realize we can serve as allies for others.

In the training manuals that the Prouty Project helped us create, we expand on these stages and discuss how they relate to our soldiers experiences in war as well as our upcoming expedition to Cotopaxi. This has proven to be a valuable tool for steering discussions and helping everyone understand the process of re-entry after a life-changing adventure or struggle. Throughout this year and future S2S projects, we’ll continue to evolve and clarify the curriculum to help our soldier participants shatter the barriers that hold them back and stop them from attaining a fulfilling life.