On the hero’s journey, the hero-to-be begins at home in relative peace and normality. Soon enough, they receive a call – whether from a dream, a community member, a foreign messenger, or otherwise – to set out into the unknown. At first, they refuse the call. Out of a sense of duty, inadequacy, or fear, they resolve to stay home and continue life as is.
But eventually, something changes their mind. They finally set out on their quest. And as soon as they do, they are astonished to come across a supernatural guide who bestows them with a powerful gift that will prove critical in their journey. Aladdin meets Genie. Cinderella meets her fairy godmother. Luke meets Yoda. As Joseph Campbell puts it in his 1949 book The Hero Of A Thousand Faces, “Having responded to their own call, and continuing to follow courageously as the consequences unfold, the hero finds all the forces of the unconscious at their side. Mother Nature herself supports the mighty task.”
We might think of our genius as that supernatural aid. It is both the gift we receive and the gift we give to the world. It makes us capable of a journey that no one else in the world is capable of. It is our superpower.
Everyone has their own genius waiting to be tapped into. And everyone’s genius is powerful in its own special ways. One task of the change agent then is to unearth and articulate their own unique brand of genius.
Often, famous heroes’ unique abilities are tangible and obvious. They are given an object imbued with a specific magical use. Or they have a specific superpower much in the way a comic book superhero does. Spiderman shoots webs. The Hulk has superhuman strength. Storm commands the forces of nature.
For change agents, it’s not quite so straightforward. Our genius is more subtle and hidden. We need to consciously excavate and harness it in order to access its full potency.
Though we might say our genius is found at the intersection of our passions, talents, and values, it is difficult to pin down and capture. Some aspects of genius are well expressed through words, but others are better expressed through images or sounds. Others are just a feeling. What often emerges as they all coalesce is something before and beyond our mind’s grasp.
Though we will never fully articulate our genius, it can be powerful to attempt to distill its essence down to one word, knowing that it will only ever be at best an approximation. Often, a single imperative verb can serve this purpose, representing the core action or power that our genius enables within us. Examples include:
In finding and claiming that one verb, in a way we become our own supernatural aid. We take the unconscious forces buried within us and make them visible and available to the conscious mind.
Change agent profile
In the popular tabletop role-playing Dungeons and Dragons, fantasy characters set out on quests similar to those described by the monomyth. They go to slay dragons, retrieve something that has been stolen, or resolve a conflict. But before the game begins in earnest, players first create the characters they are to play and specify their various strengths, skills, personality traits, ideals, bonds, flaws, etc. Often, these attributes all get collected on one sheet of paper that becomes a key reference for the player.
Change agents benefit from a similar process. We can create our own change agent profiles to capture the various attributes of our genius and our special roles in change. So far in this curriculum, we’ve helped you identify your change agent archetype, passions, talents, and core values, which are all prime targets for your profile. But these profiles can capture much more than that: your geographic home, supporting values, shadow values, affirmations, important relationships, Myers-Briggs type, Strengths Finder strengths, Enneagram type, ayurveda dosha, spirit animals, even photographs or works of art that resonate with you. You create a mood board of sorts that captures all the various energies, types, and ways of doing and being that make you you.
For many, this will be a one-time exercise. You collate your various attributes in one place so you can more easily identify commonalities, trends, and themes, and thus guide yourself as you distill them down to one essence.
But it can also be an ongoing practice, an ever-evolving altar of sorts that reminds you of what you stand for, what brings you alive, what you excel at, and what makes you who you are. It’s an opportunity to articulate yourself to yourself, not only to find and live that essence, but to honor vital aspects of yourself that cannot be captured through one word or one essence.
Through the act of articulating and claiming these disparate aspects of ourselves, we find them more activated and available within us, something we can more readily call upon and harness at will. Because of that, we find ourselves more focused, more powerful, more capable of change.