(12) Refusal of the Return - Are you ready to show what you truly are?
Updated: Mar 3, 2022
(Picture by Andrea Piacquadio, from Pexels)
"And so, I had found my final treasure, my Ultimate Boon. In an unexpected way I had discovered that I could mix together my creative passion for art creation and my natural inclination to go deep and coach people on finding their own spark. I was in awe.”
Gisela looks at the shining silver star in her hand. It seemed just clay a few minutes ago, but after setting it on fire with her small hand torch and rubbing over it with a brass brush, she’s let the sparkling silver come to life.
“Silver and fire have been since the metaphor of my transformative coaching practice. The potential is always there, but to let it shine we often need fire to let go of what we don’t need anymore.”
“That’s impressive. Was it easy to spread this message and bring it back to your Ordinary World?”
She bursts in a crystalline laughter. “No way! I had already made some experience with the world of online courses and online marketing, but it had all sounded to me unauthentic, unhealthy, and flat.”
“I wanted to help people discover their truth, find their home, their space within, but I couldn't do it in a way that didn't feel right to me. That kept me stuck thinking for quite some time."
"There you go. Your Refusal of the Return.”
The Hero has finally earned the Ultimate Boon, and now the cycle should be closed. The insights gained through the Journey so far should be shared with the people, the nation, the world from which they have departed. That’s how the Journey comes to fulfillment.
Yet, the Hero may question the very act of coming back to the Ordinary World.
Questions may arise in his or her mind.
“They don’t know what I’ve been through and how much I suffered to earn this treasure. Will they be able to appreciate and savor it? Will I find the proper words to explain it to them? Will they mock me? Does it even matter to share it with them?”
Some of them, like Psyche after her adventures to reunite with Cupid, or Jake Sully in the Avatar movie, choose not to come back and remain in the elevated world they have discovered.
Others, like Gisela, who blends her ability to create unique pieces of art with her transformative coaching practice, Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, and Chris Gardner, the motivational speaker who turned from homeless to multimillionaire, will find their way back home through perseverance and unexpected events.
But, before then, they will feel somehow not ready to come back.
The Refusal of the Return in Cupid and Psyche
After overcoming the trials that Venus had set in front of her, Psyche finally gets married with Cupid, with the blessing of Jupiter, the father of Gods. By drinking Ambrosia, she earns her new nature of Goddess.
The idea of coming back home doesn’t even touch her mind. The world had already put her to death after the prophecy of the oracle of Apollo, and her life had then been endangered once more by her envious sisters.
There is no reason for her to come back to her people. She’ll remain forever there, in the olympic dimension of immortal Gods and in eternal embrace of her Cupid.
The Refusal of the Return in Avatar
Jake Sully succeeds in protecting the world of the Na’vi by defeating his own people. In Pandora, he’s found meaning and Neytiri’s love.
At heart, he is no longer part of the human race. It makes no sense for him to come back to his previous Ordinary World.
And so, he chooses to have his soul and mind placed forever into the body of his avatar, continue his journey as a part of the Na’vi, and leave his human body behind.
The Refusal of the Return in the Wizard of Oz
Dorothy has succeeded in killing the evil Witch of the West, even if unwillingly.
After being celebrated as a Heroine by the people of Emerald City, now it’s time for her to reclaim her prize: coming back home.
And so, the Wizard sets up the hot-air balloon with which, many years before, he had landed there.
Everything is ready. Dorothy with Toto and the Wizard get in the cabin to take off. Yet, at the very last second, after the Wizard has cut the rope that was keeping the balloon to the ground, the dog jumps out, and Dorothy does to same to catch him.
The Wizard flies away, and Dorothy remains stuck in the Realm of Oz.
Will she ever have another opportunity to finally come back home?
The Refusal of the Return in Chris Gardner’s Hero’s Journey
And so, against all odds, Chris reaches entrepreneurial success.
His story, rag to riches, doesn’t pass unnoticed, so much that, in January 2002, he is interviewed in the popular 20/20 TV show from ABC. The national response he gets is overwhelming.
In 2004 he is also featured in the Canadian documentary ‘Come on Down: Searching for the American Dream’.
Newspapers start to write about him.
All these are signs that it is time for him to purposefully share his story and inspire people.
Yet, Chris is scared to death by this much attention on him. Is it for the fortunes that he had accumulated? Houses, money, big toys like one red and one black Ferrari, the second of which had belonged to Michael Jordan?
Or is it for the story of a man who, despite life's setbacks, had succeeded in doing something with his life, family, and community?
Inside, he is feeling that conveying the right message through the circus of media, and not being caught up by their sometimes-ambiguous mechanisms, could be a daunting task.
He is even contacted by a producer who wants to create a reality around homeless people. The plan is giving a bunch of them a job after taking them off the street, and the one who would do the most with their life would win a house and a heap of cash.
Gardner is disgusted. “Being homeless is not a game,” he replies. He’ll never hear from that guy anymore.
In parallel, Chris is considering writing down his autobiography. Yet, opening up all those doors in his mind that he had tried to keep shut until then would be a hell of a journey. A missing father, an aggressive stepfather who used to beat him and to repeatedly point his gun against him and his mother, being raped in his youth by a thief, being imprisoned for not paying parking tickets, sleeping in a public bathroom with his son when homeless… it is simply too much to share.
His Refusal of the Return is growing strong.
How to go beyond it?
The Refusal of the Return in My Story
While I was serving as a Scrum Master at the client’s premises in Modena, the CEO of a Fintech company in North Italy contacts me. They’re willing to grow, but they feel they’ve hit their “ceiling” in their business and can’t find their way out.
I survey their approach and processes, and I show them how business agility could lead them to the next step in their company’s evolution.
They want to give it a try. We’ll start with a ‘pilot team’ and in a few months’ time they'll evaluate the results and decide if it makes sense to expand the approach to the rest of the organization.
What thrills me is that, with my flexibility as a freelancer, now I could serve both clients in parallel.
I perform the role of Agile Coach. I conduct trainings and workshops with them on Scrum and on business agility, we kick off the pilot team, and I start coaching one-on-one, on weekly basis from remote, the internal employee who asked to become their Scrum Master.
I had provided them with some criteria to pick their first Scrum Master. To fit the role, they needed someone with great ‘people skills’, good discipline, and the desire to become servant leaders for their team. With my mentoring and coaching, they would have grown into exceptional coaches for their own teams, as Scrum Masters are required to be.
And so we start.
Three to four months later they begin seeing results.
The company’s HR approaches me and asks me with a smile what did I do during those coaching sessions with their first Scrum Master. The reason is the dramatic transformation that my coachee has gained in such a short time. To the colleagues that have known him for years, his current mix of enthusiasm and serene calm doesn’t go unnoticed.
“The pressure and the requests on his table haven’t diminished. The changes of priority continue to plague our development. Yet, while four months ago he was stressed out about uncertainties, now he’s super sharp and clear about priorities and seems to juggle all those requests with ease.”
“And there’s more,” she continues.
“His team members now behave in the same way. The quantity of work is as much as it was before, but now all of them smile and seem to be connected among them by an invisible force. They’re delivering more and better results. The other teams are wondering what’s going on and want to be part of it as soon as possible.”
They tell me they want to kick off another team, with the same Scrum Master’s Coaching formula that I’ve applied to the first one. After four months they ask me to launch the third one, and then the fourth one four months later, each with a dedicated Scrum Master.
In the one-on-one coaching sessions with those Scrum Masters, we don’t just talk about Scrum. Yes, they’re still a mix of Scrum training and mentoring to support them in their new role, but the focus is on coaching them as human beings.
On letting them go of their limiting visions about themselves.
On letting a larger potential take form through them to support their teams to succeed.
It’s no more about them now, it’s about their teams, and they see it.
It’s no more about what they think they could or could not be able to do. It’s beyond themselves. And they flow into a new way of being into the world without even noticing. They feel better and at ease, even when nothing is changing outside. And invariably, they then witness changes happening around them.
And I see something shifting within me when I’m coaching them. I stop being “my self” and I am simply presence. I stop thinking, and I hear my words flowing when it’s time to speak, and I hear my silence nurturing a ‘space of possibilities’ that takes form between us and that finally comprehends us.
They tell me they feel soothed. They open up. They see new things. They step up to their power, with a calm and an awareness they hadn’t experienced before.
They see wonders happen, within and without themselves. And I take notes.
So, on the side of my jobs as Scrum Master and Agile Coach with teams and organizations, I discover how the journey that I had led so far is naturally turning me into a one-on-one transformative coach.
I take several coaching trainings to refine my skills, including my very first one taught by Michael Neill, and I start realizing that what I’m doing now goes beyond tools and techniques. It goes beyond the mind. It goes beyond psychology. And the more I relax into “simply being” during our sessions, the more miracles I see, for both the coachees and myself.
And something invisible is now tapping on my shoulder.
Could it be that, at this point of my life, I have to take the next turn and focus solely on one-on-one coaching instead of 'distracting' myself with teams and organizations?
Could it be that the real boon was not simply and not only my ability to shape-shift among sectors and my flexibility as a freelancer, but also my capacity to support transformations in people, one by one?
Could it be that my return to the Ordinary World involves sharing my message not only with the limited audience of the companies I work with, but with a larger pool? Maybe the whole world?
Should I take some time off from my main job and invest on starting up my coaching business? Should I leave the “certainty” of my current commitments for an exciting but uncertain new path? But what if that doesn’t work?
I linger in this reasoning for quite some time, while continuing with the safety net of my existing job assignments.
And yes, there it is, right behind all those thoughts, my Refusal to the Return.
And I discover that we think that we’re taking the Journey, while it’s the Journey that is taking us. The Universe shows us the way home, and the longer we refuse to take the path, the hardest the events that then force us to go, in the end with no chance to choose otherwise.
And that’s exactly what happened to me next.
Think of the material price that you had earned thanks to your Journey. Did it matter sharing it with people around you or not? If yes, did you find an easy and natural way to immediately do it, or did you feel any resistance?
Beyond Your Story
Look beyond the material reward above. Earning the Ultimate Boon means touching your higher Self. And when you do it, you naturally feel the urge to rejoice with the world around you. Yet, you may be tempted to remain on your own, maybe for fear of losing that bliss or of not being understood. What's been your experience?
If you're feeling stuck, try this. Sit down in silence and close your eyes. Let your thoughts do their thing. See that they are just thoughts. Look at the empty space beyond them, where there is peace and rest. Stay there as long as you like. Now, take your next step.
Is this post lighting you up? Are you willing to Open Up to Your Potential?
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The Journey so far:
(10) Apotheosis - Being One With All That Is - This post
Gisela's Hero's Journey - This post
Copyright © Danilo Tambone. All rights reserved.