Monday, April 29, 2013

The Hero’s Journey

Wikipedia defines the hero’s journey as:

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

I’ve read several articles expressing the viewpoint that we should view our live and how we live it as a “hero’s journey”. In that view we begin our lives and encounter various obstacles that we must overcome. In overcoming those obstacles we grow and become more competent giving us the resources to overcome even greater obstacles.

While this may be a great metaphor for life in teaching us to persevere in the face of adversity there is a counter unspoken message that since life is a struggle, why try to overcome those obstacles?

In reading those articles I am reminded of the little boy who went to his first day of school and when ask by his father at the end of the day “How did it go?” Answered, “Not well, I have to go back tomorrow!”

While amusing, this child’s eye view of their world can be instructive. After some period of time you just get tired striving and look for a lower level of stress. Even an army is pulled off the line and sent to rest and recuperate after extended periods of combat.

At the same time, just cruising through life without a challenge gets boring. The key is to strike a balance between the obstacle-laden path and the clear sailing of an open road. For business the trick is to challenge your employees with difficult work and yet give them some less challenging times to allow time for both mental and physical rest and recovery.

In the past, I worked for a company that kept my department at “maximum effort” with no slack times for recovery. I watched my department lead routinely work 50 to 60 hours a week simply because the senior management didn’t do their job of time management.

New jobs were accepted with unrealistic delivery schedules forcing workers into extreme overtime to get all the jobs completed within the arbitrary delivery schedules. Burn out was common and I eventually left and the overload, while only one reason, was a significant component in my decision.

Each of us as individuals must recognize when we need to take a break, whether that is a quick trip to the water cooler or a 2-week vacation. As the boss it is part of your job to monitor your staff and ensure that you don’t overload them without enough lower paced work to keep them fresh.

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