The Difference Between Being a Hero and a Hero’s Journey

The goal of our Hero’s Journey is NOT becoming a hero that:

  • Swoops in and saves the day, “I’m in charge now”
  • Fixes all problems and challenges by taking power and decision making away from others
  • Takes on responsibility for all things

The goal of our Hero’s Journey IS :

  • a Call to Action generated by:
    • Feeling disconnected in our practice between mastering the scientific and technical competencies required of us versus wanting to provide human caring that will touch people’s lives, and
    • Feeling waves of woundedness and powerlessness.
  • a Journey Within characterized by:
    • Gaining an understanding of the forces within healthcare that impact us
    • Reflecting on how we think, respond and feel about ourselves, others and nursing
    • Striving to find ways of being and acting that help us feel better
    • Striving to find meaning in our work through expanded awareness of self, others, events around us
  • Gaining a New Sense of Clarity about our Nurse Self
    • Arriving at our own truths within our nursing practice
    • Greater healing within and with others
    • Able and willing to help other nurses in their journeys

Calling For a New Hero Leader versus the traditional heroic leaders.

As we know, current clinical practice is rising in complexity and risk.

We all feel this. It’s easy for us to gravitate to the traditional heroic leaders who take control of situations and avert crises. I know that I did as a CNO. It’s hard not to promote these types of heroic leaders.

The truth is that this style of leadership is a menace. It’s devastating to the team and threatens the futures of nurses. Supporting this style of leadership creates a cycle of bedside nurses unable to grow their crisis skills, becoming overly dependent on the hero leader and ultimately not being seen as willing to step up. This is our fault, not theirs.

Currently we have a crisis in numbers. Soon we will have more novice RNs than experienced.

Not surrendering to the traditional cycle requires clarity and insight to grow environments of learning.

Our Hero’s Journey Within will help grow new hero leaders, bedside nurses and healthier futures.

6 thoughts on “The Difference Between Being a Hero and a Hero’s Journey

  1. Pat Crowe says:

    We promote teamwork so much that most nursing units would agree night shift is usually the better of the two shifts at demonstrating this. Our night shift heroes take great pride in mentoring and also saving our interns during their first year that what we inadvertently created was a culture of co-dependency during crisis. It became glaringly obvious to our team when the primary nurse went on her break during a MET call on her patient and left the other team members to provide care. They all recognized that this was her pattern that they had allowed.
    At the two year post graduation timeframe, we had a small cohort of nurses who were slow to recognize how to proactively rescue patients and tended to be reactive. Thank you, Pat, for helping us recognize that we must allow our novice nurses to be just that. The next step, however, is allowing nurses to each take “charge” sooner rather than later. I believe it can only begin with confidence in clinical skills and am promoting certifications for our nurses starting with our Supervisors/Charge Nurses.

    1. pmcclendon says:

      Hello Pat,
      Wow, there are several great lessons in your scenarios.
      It is hard to teach in the midst of crisis. But doing a debrief right after the crisis and having the learning nurses be the ones to describe their observations of the event is by far one of the best practices. And the goal is that the seasoned leaders don’t do the talking. (haha, always a challenge)
      I like the idea of new nurses taking on the charge role early, for big picture development and confidence building, with a good coach.
      There is literature out there that states the newer nurses (1-3 years) are superior preceptors for new grads than the seasoned nurses.
      How about that?
      You’re doing good work, ms Pat,

      Happy Holidays, pat

    2. Regina Davis says:

      I agree with your comment. I am a hands -on learner, so I perform best by digging in. It also gives me confidence in decision making and implementing knowledge. I know that mt work performed is what is necessary for that particular situations and the outcome is individually determined. Keeping in mind that even when things are done right something else could go wrong. As a nurse my work will reflect the highest and most current techniques and the end result will allow more information in how to fine tune what I have implemented.

      1. pmcclendon says:

        Beautiful description of a full circle process. And I can feel your satisfaction in seeing the end result of your work.
        Thank you. pat

  2. nurse jobs says:

    Thanks for finally writing about >The Difference Between Being a Hero and a Hero’s Journey – Saving Nurses <Liked it!

    1. pmcclendon says:

      You are welcome. pat

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