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'The adventure that the hero is ready for is the one he gets'. Joseph Campbell

In October 2023, I was on my way home on my motorcycle, eager to get ready for an afternoon watching football with my son. Not in any particular rush, I relaxed as I cruised behind the SUV in front.

Approaching traffic lights, the SUV started to drift into the right-hand lane in preparation, it appeared, to move into the middle of three lanes. Seeing a space open up in front of me, I eased my bike alongside the left-hand side of the car as I saw the lights turn red.

Just as I was about to slow down, the car, apparently not wanting to wait at the lights, suddenly turned left across the front of me into a side road on my left. Straight into me.

I recall very little after being hit, other than the strange realisation that, instead of braking as it hit, the car appeared to rev its engine.

 

As I lay on the grass at the side of the road, against all common sense, I took my helmet off. There was a large split across the back.

I lay there, in agony, for over an hour before the ambulance arrived.

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Bad day at the office, mate?

In the meantime, an off-duty paramedic, a fire crew returning to station, several police cars and, eventually, a mobile paramedic unit all arrived to seal off the area and make me as stable as they could.

Truth be told, all I wanted was some pain relief. As it later transpired, I had broken the ribs across the top of my chest, my sternum, right shoulder, collarbone, all the ribs down the right side of my back and two vertebrae. My lungs were severely bruised and I was struggling to breathe.

My motorbike sat 20 feet down the road surrounded by debris and oil. It was a wreck. So was I.

And so began a rehabilitation journey that would take almost 6 months before I could return to 'normal'.

More importantly, as it has since transpired, this accident marked a turning point for me both personally and professionally. Faced with the prospect of being unable to stand for long and, therefore, engage in my usual on-site work in factories, I decided to go back to my teaching and coaching roots.

I've worked for the last 20+ years in manufacturing. It's a fast-paced, hectic environment. Walking onto a factory floor, where everyone is focused on their own piece of the process, it can appear unforgiving.

 

And it can be, if you're not completely on the ball.  In those 20 years I've worked mainly in a problem-solving capacity. As a freelance, I've coached, trained and mentored hundreds of Managers and Leaders.

And here I was, faced with a problem of my own. A bloody big one.

A broken spine tends to be less than conducive to standing for hours on a busy shopfloor. Even when its fixed, the rigour of the shopfloor doesn't lend itself to a seamless healing trajectory. So, what to do?

I concluded that, with vast experience coaching in high stress environments, I'd mention my desire to focus on working with individuals in some of my Linkedin posts and see what happens.

What happened was a slowly increasing wave of interest which has shown no sign of diminishing. Most enquiries tend to come from people with a very specific need - to find out who they really are.

 

How does that work?

Well, most of us operate in an environment we know and can navigate fairly easily.

 

Our work, our family, and our circle of friends. They're known quantities. We know what's expected of us.

 

And if we have problems, they tend to be of the sort that aren't particularly challenging to our identity.

We know how to behave to get what we want and, as long as we don't rock the boat too much, we're ok.

But eventually, we must leave the safety of the known. And go off in pursuit of ourselves.

There are endless influences tugging at our desire for fulfilment.

Buy this course.
Get this degree.
Adopt this philosophy.

More than 100 years ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson said the path to fulfilment lies in not conforming to the wishes and beliefs of others.

Not that we should reject every idea or attitude of those around us, but to rigorously test those beliefs and discard those found wanting.

 

It does not mean demonstrating in the streets.

It does not mean defacing works of art.

Or tearing down convention in our protest against conformity.

All such behaviour is conformity in the extreme.

To be a nonconformist is to be a realist. A pragmatist.

We must come out from behind the illusion we’ve been living.

And seek to become the person we were meant to be.

Even if, in doing so, we offend the sensibilities of those who would have us live their way.

Not everyone will choose such a journey, of course.

The Hero’s Journey is fraught with peril.

But if we ignore the Call to Adventure, we risk dying without ever having known who we truly are.

Worse, we will die never having been ourselves.

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"Working alongside Clark I found him to be thoughtful and logical in his approach to issues. 

 

He’s a deep thinker, and made me reconsider my own approach to things on more than one occasion, in a way that was insightful rather than combative."

J D – Head of Product Support, Terex (UK) Ltd 2006 - 2021

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