Heros and Quests: equipping you for success – part 1

Setting up and running a successful business or enterprise is a herculean task reminiscent of the Hero’s journey. In this four part series I’ll take you through a self-development programme in which we will look at how to equip you for success.  We will look at four areas:

1. Archetypes and how to leverage their power for success

2. The Hero’s journey to identify where we are, where we have been and to prepare for where we are going.

3. Thinking about and connecting the trips that entrepreneurs make and how to avoid them

4. Practical, easy and inexpensive ways to support the Hero and her Quest

Part 1: Archetypes and how to leverage their power for success

Archetypes are universally understood symbols or patterns of behavior brought most vividly to life in fairytales and films. Who has not come across the Hero, or the Shadow, or A Damsel in Distress. The archetype hypothesis dates back to the philosopher Plato who thought souls came to the world with an archetype imprint. Later, Carl Jung upheld and further advanced the concept of psychological archetypes by also rejecting the notion that people’s psychological development resembled a white clean slate. Instead Jung favored the idea that individual’s psyche was pre-ordered to some extent with archetypes that acquired strength and became externally manifested through people’s encounter with life. Today we recognize this idea as the nature and nurture influences on shaping how our brains work and who we are. Existence of a specific Archetype can be best deduced by examining one’s behavior. In other words, the archetypes form a foundation that all of us build on with our varied experience in and of life, resulting in different and unique personalities and ways of being. Insights into your archetypes can help you improve the way you operate in business and in life.

I am fascinated by the conversion of our unconscious thoughts and ideas towards conscious thinking for clarity and focus that allows people to be more productive. And I have been using fairytales in my own work to facilitate this process so I would like to invite you on a journey of discovering your archetypes and using them as powerful allies and helpers in your business.

Archetypes and how we can use them to achieve our quest

Archetypes are limitless according to Jung. That said, he had identified four main types:

  1.  Self – coherent whole, unified consciousness and unconscious of a person – one’s totality
  2. Shadow – the opposite of the Ego (center of consciousness), often possessing the same characteristics as the Ego but which the Ego also rejects
  3. Anima/Animus – feminine inner personality of a male and masculine inner personality of a female respectively
  4. Mask – image we present to the world

Consider how these seemingly unconscious forces may influence and/or control your approach to your business. We will start this exploration by first identifying a clear ‘Quest’ or your goal.

Question: What is your ultimate business quest and why are you pursing it?

You may wish to be really specific here. Ensure your quest has as much detail as possible including likely timescale, who’s involved, what is happening, what is being delivered and to whom etc. Is it to run a multi-million global company? A small business? A franchise? Are you offering a specific service or product?

For an excellent one page workout on this you may with to checkout the Business Canvas based on the Business Model Generation

Example quest

To create greeting cards and other products that inspire and help people connect with themselves and others in a deeply meaningful way using pragmatic life scenarios and intelligent humour.

Also note down how did your quest come about?

Example Motivation for the Quest: I would like to combine my experience as a neuroscientists and coach and spread valuable learning and permission giving for authentic connection and courageous acts that lead to tangible results more widely than just through 1:1 and group programmes.

Ok. Well done.

Let’s now delve into the four archetypes to see how they may be used to help you advance your quest more effectively.

Having named your quest consider the following questions and note down your thoughts and ideas for actions that you may not have considered before.

ArchetypeQuestions to aid youMoving forward actions
SelfWhat does your head and heart really tell you is needed right now for the success of your business?Note down all actions and schedule them.
ShadowWhat is specifically hanging over you in your shadow? Consider finances, time, logistical issues etc…and note all that apply. If you look at each one of your shadow components notice the following:1. What limiting beliefs are holding you back?
2. What helpful relationships could you tap into to overcome each shadow?
3. What would you need to learn or do to improve?
Note down your action list
AnimusIf you were a male business entrepreneur on your quest what would things look like? How do your successful male counterparts behave and act?Note down actions that will help you step up your game and guarantee success?
MaskWhat mask are you wearing most often and to whom? What is underneath the mask? How does your mask and what’s underneath impact how you connect with your clients/customers? Are they more likely to buy into your services/products through the mask or not?Note down specific changes in your behaviour or actions you can take to strengthen your results.


Mining the four survival archetypes to help us develop core strength and strengthen our integrity

At any given moment in time and certainly in the life of a business, we are acting in the name of basic survival. What I mean by this is being able to have life, stay afloat and thrive. Both in nature and in business, survival is a fundamental threshold towards growth, expansion and success. So it is useful to consider what survival may mean for you right now. Survival may mean persisting with our idea whether that’s refining the concept or testing it out, braving the odds and continuing under difficult conditions and so on.  Even rebounding from setbacks and crisis is an act of survival.

There are four archetypes commonly associated with survival that all humans are believed to share which can offer us useful ideas we may not have considered either for our products or the approach we take to our enterprise. They are:

1.       Child – the playful, light, fun energy and thinking that aims to delight and elicit best in others

2.       Victim – the energy and thinking that alerts us to the possibility or reality that someone may be taking advantage of us

3.       Sabatour – the energy and thinking that aims to help us discover the various ways in which we create our own barriers to success

4.       Prostitute – the energy and thinking that alerts us towards our self-respect and self-esteem.

These four archetypes are concerned with challenges we must overcome to survive and their role is to help guard us and help us retain our individual integrity against survival demands in a more elegant and sustainable way.

Below is a workout to help you consider these characters as we did above.

Questions to aid youMoving forward actions
ChildHow could you have more fun working as hard as you do? What would the child in you wonder about and ask? What would they do?Note down specific actions that appear.
VictimWhere do you feel hard done by? Struggling? Taken advantage of? What impact does this thinking have on your behavior towards others? List what you need to learn and do to connect with others and act from your best self. 
SabatourWhat limiting thoughts and beliefs do you carry within you? What is their impact on you and your business?  What is the sabatour really trying to bring to your attention to help you succeed?Note down what specific things will strengthen your success going forward.
ProstituteIn what ways may you be selling yourself short whether that’s how you market your business or sell your product or service? If you valued yourself and your business what would be happening? How does this archetype affect your business model?  Note down your thoughts and ideas for building and advancing your business with high degree of self-respect and respect for others.



I began to experiment with using archetypes to help me understanding my clients and myself as well as mining them for clues and ideas towards increasing our resourcefulness as entrepreneurs and small business owners. Being able to consider them and the insights they bring through their unique perspectives has proved in my experience both enjoyable and fruitful. Considering their ideas, approaches and energies in turn has significantly widened my repertoire of potential responses and ways of perceiving and addressing situations and challenges. Considering these archetypes has given me greater choices in how I respond from a place of strength instead of unconscious weakness.

In part two of this article, we will consider the Hero’s Journey to understand where we are on the path and to aid our planning and preparation so that we increase our chances of success. The Hero’s journey contains a number of archetypes as well, so you will be able to apply what you have learned so far in greater depth.

Further reading and resources

The archetypes and the collective unconscious by C.G Jung

 Awakening the heroes within: Twelve archetypes to help us find ourselves and transform the world by Carol S. Pearson


The Author

To delve deeper into your unique twelve archetypes to help strengthen you and your business please contact me for 1:1 or group coaching programme mbm@maketimecount.com

Author of Get Productive! (Capstone, July 2012), Dr. Magdalena Bak-Maier combines logic with emotion to create holistic productivity that can be sustained on healthy terms. As a Neuroscientist and Talent Coach she unlocks top-level performance by helping people fuse heart and mind energies. Magdalena works with scientists, artists, business executives and entrepreneurs, including G8 summit and World Economic Forum speakers and uses her knowledge and insights to help individuals fire on four cylinders. Magdalena’s workshops and seminars inspire attendees to success and have been sought within public, private and third sector. For information about the Journey and Quest Programme and free resources and blog please visit: www.maketimecount.com or Twitter #maketimecountuk.


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