Trailblazers, Teachers and Lamplighters

Have you ever experienced the Frequency Bias? You are thinking about buying a certain model of car and all of a sudden you noticed that model car everywhere — the freeway, the grocery store parking lot, ads on TV and your neighbor’s garage. The frequency bias is a way of describing what happens when something you are holding in your mind influences where your attention goes.

I’ve been experiencing the frequency bias a lot lately and it has ignited an excitement in me that has me feeling a bit like a little kid! What has me so fired up is a “growth mindset“.

When we practice growth mindset principles, we see possilbiity instead of limitation. Failure becomes a valuable opportunity for learning, and the success of others inspires us rather than discourages us. (http://www.renaissance.com)

The frequency bias that has captured my attention is a correlation between an expanding personal growth community and Joseph Campbell’s teachings of the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell, a leading mythology expert and modern day philosopher, revealed how story has been passed down through centuries and cultures to help humanity evolve.

The Hero’s Journey is a common story template that involves a hero that goes on an adventure, learns a lesson, wins a victory with that newfound knowledge and returns home transformed. The hero in the story template offers a shining example of personal growth work. We witness the transformation as heroes confront their own inner barriers, discover inner resources and test themselves. They return victorious from their adventures and conquests with a strong desire to motivate others.

Here is the magic in Joseph Campbell’s insights: It is far better for us to have a story to look through than an explanation. The story is richer – it pulls us in, makes us feel all those strong emotions, connects us to the character through those emotions, trials and discoveries. When we cheer for the hero, we are also cheering for ourselves — for possibility. A moving story inspires us, reminds us of our shared humanity and expands our empathy.

How many hero’s journeys have you personally experienced in your lifetime?

How many times have you had a sudden jolt in your world that changed the course of your life? What did you discover about yourself in those times of great trial? How did you help others when you emerged?

Those who have become Trailblazers, Teachers and Lamplighters are no different than you or I. They just recognized that their hero’s journey was only complete when they came through their personal growth experiences with a transformation so needed, so worthy that they shared the rich details to provide a scaffolding for us. We have a responsibility to those brave, courageous heroes to assist in our collective evolution. We don’t have to get it right, we simply have to do it better.

Take a moment to reflect on the things you often take for granted that might not be possible had others not fought for change. It could be collectively significant such as voting or being able to have credit in your own name. It could be singularly significant such as a parent getting you and your siblings out of a toxic environment. It could be life-saving heart surgeries or cancer treatments not available to prior generations. We are all benefactors of all those who came before us and did hard things that paved the way for something better. Nothing about life is stagnant – we are changing moment to moment. The major thing that gets in our way is when we inadvertently or unconsciously stunt our personal growth.

Every minus is half of a plus……waiting for a stroke of vertical awareness. What awareness can you add to it so that you get a far bigger picture? –Alan Cohen, Author and cast member of the movie, Finding Joe

What I have been noticing with greater awareness is that my Frequency Bias is picking up the patterns that are evident in the Hero’s Journey, the growth mindset, and the expansion of the personal growth community. The components and benefits of all sound remarkably similar:

Joseph Campbell’s lessons from the Hero’s Journey include accepting the possibilities of the present; trusting yourself and doing what makes you feel most alive (following your bliss, discovering your passion); part of the journey is exploration, facing our fears; stretch yourself (put yourself in uncomfortable situations every 7 days); we grow the most from things we stretch the most; no one holds you back but yourself.

Research links the GROWTH MINDSET with many benefits, including: greater comfort with taking personal risks and striving for more stretching goals; higher motivation; enhanced brain development across wider ranges of tasks; lower stress, anxiety and depression; better relationships and higher performance levels. (www.skillsyouneed.com)

Mindfulness tools include meditation and deep breathing; engage in activities you are passionate about; bring your attention to the present moment; sit with and truly feel all your emotions; journal for self-reflection; practice active listening; become aware of habitual but ineffective behavioral patterns; avoid numbing emotions and experiences.

I’ve written about the upward trajectory and merging of all this meaningful work in prior posts. What I have been amazed to discover is how often I’m having conversations today that reveals just how much it is beginning to seep into regular conversations.

Just in the past two weeks, I have had chats with waiters, grocery clerks and strangers at the coffee shop about personal growth, hard conversations, mental health and managing anxiety. No mindless conversation about the weather and plans for the rest of the day. I get the sense that people are hungering to find a better path forward as we emerge from the pandemic. There is a buzzing kind of energy that feels like the universe nudging us to chart a new course.

Could all of this explain the growing fascination with mediation apps like Headspace and Calm? And why Brene Brown’s work is exploding way beyond her initial Ted Talk and first book, I Thought It Was Just Me? She’s now hosting two podcast platforms on Spotify and she’s published 7 books with another one currently in the works. What incredible timing for Oprah and Prince Harry to launch their documentary on mental health; and for Oprah and Dr. Bruce Perry to release their new book “What Happened to You.” Neuroscience is weaving its way into mainstream conversations and intersecting with mindfulness, meditation, mental health, anti-racism and childhood development.

It seems we are open to the invitation that humanity is extending. It is our collective Hero’s Journey. The Hero’s Journey has 3 basic parts — Separation, Initiation and Return.

The pandemic provided that separation in more ways than we could have ever imagined. The initiation had us all dealing with unforeseen trials, isolation, and obstacles to our previously normal life, and we all got pulled into caves for self-reflection and a reality check. And now…..the return as we emerge. The big question before us is how will we show up?

Enlightenment occurs when we take time out for serious self-reflection and we face the things that scare us the most. Sometimes those scary things are the equivalent of a monster under our childhood bed. Bring them out into the light, learn more, do some perspective taking. There’s no doubt that it takes courage to recognize that we have some blind spots, some unfounded fears. Stretching out of our comfort zone a little at a time shines some light under that dark bed and informs us. We have a plethora of high quality resources to help us — books, documentaries, podcasts, conversations with people whose views are different from our own.

Many of our most invaluable resources are the rich stories of our Trailblazers, Teachers and Lamplighters. What lessons can we take from their heroic journeys? How can we honor the forward progress that they made for our benefit? We are the gardeners of the future….what seeds are we planting? What weeds are we pulling?

I’m sharing two stories I have learned over the past year from Glennon Doyle and her book Untamed. I think these are relatable examples of love in action and a willingness to open minds in whole new directions. The gateway to these shifts in perspective was through the heart. In her book, Untamed, Glennon shares the story of her parents attending a church-inspired community meeting in rural Virginia in 2015 in response to the racial issues agitating America’s consciousness after the Charleston mass shooting. There were about a hundred white folks in attendance. A woman called the meeting to order and announced the decision to send care packages to the predominately black school across town. The group embraced with relief this “outward action”, performance instead of transformation. Glennon’s father was confused and frustrated. He stood up and said “I’m not here to make packages. I’m here to talk. I was raised in a racist Southern town. I was taught a lot of things about black people that I’ve been carrying in my mind and my heart for decades. I don’t want to pass this poison down to my grandkids’ generation. I want this stuff out of me, but I don’t know how to get it out. I think I’m saying that I’ve got racism in me, and I want to unlearn it.” Glennon paints the picture of her dad as a good man, dedicated to family and community…in other words he looks and acts just like most of us. But as she so wisely states “he dared to imagine that he played a role in our sick American family. He was ready to let burn his cherished identity of “good white person”. He was ready to stay in the room and turn himself inside out.” (excerpted from Untamed by Glennon Doyle, Chapter entitled “Racists”).

The second story is about Glennon’s mother. Not surprisingly, her mother was full of fear and concerns when she learned the shocking news from her daughter that she was in love with a woman. While it was no surprise that Glennon’s marriage to Craig was broken and a divorce was imminent, it was a lot for Glennon’s mother to absorb this new revelation. What Glennon realized was that her mother was reacting as most of us moms would naturally do — a strong desire to protect her beloved daughter from the onslaught of judgment, harassment and negativity that was sure to come her way. And that protective instinct overrode her mother’s ability to separate her emotions around that from how she really felt about Glennon and ultimately Abby. Her love for Glennon was never in question. Her support for Glennon was layered under all the fears. When the dust settled and the air cleared, Glennon’s mom not only embraced the joy and love so evident between Abby and Glennon, she became a committed activist for the LGBTQ community. Glennon readily admits that her mom is now more involved in this activism than even she is. I share these two stories as examples of awareness and transformation in two people that are in their later years, facing change in unexpected ways and evolving. In fact, they are sources of inspiration to me and others who view this chapter of life as an opportunity to live on purpose, with purpose to create a better world for our children and grandchildren.

Personal growth and humanitarian growth are inextricably linked. When we know ourselves better, we tap into that deep reservoir of wisdom and understanding. We aren’t meant to get it perfect, but we are encouraged to keep working to make it better.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:

Finding Joe Documentary on Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8nFACrLxr0

My son and I are both reading this phenomenal book right now. It will open your eyes and your heart in unexpected ways ….hopefully it will break you open to greater understanding.


https://brenebrown.com/podcast/brene-with-dr-clint-smith-on-how-the-word-is-passed/
in 2010 Dr. Bruce Perry brought to our attention the Empathy Poverty. Fast forward to 2021 and so much of what he shared, we have lived in many iterations. This book is more relevant today than ever. The root cause of so many of society’s problems lie in childhood trauma and neglect. Another book that will teach you things you never imagined impacting our daily lives.

We Can Do Hard Things Podcast – with Glennon Doyle and her sister, Amanda

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/we-can-do-hard-things-with-glennon-doyle/id1564530722

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