Life Transformation – The Monomyth

I had a physical therapy appointment one morning and my therapist told me, “Everything that me, and all of your other therapists, are telling you will appear as a lot of random information coming in from different directions, however, it will all come together and make sense someday.”  As my therapist was trying to teach me how to walk again he began telling me about something called the, transformation triangle and I thought it was worth taking note of.  In college I have learned about the Hero’s Journey, noted at the bottom, however, the Transformation Triangle was short, concise, and a concept that I never heard of.  After my therapy session I asked my therapist, “Can you explain the transformation triangle to me in more detail please?” I think because, perhaps, I am on the biggest transformative journey in my life is why I took so much interest in this discussion.  At any rate, I documented my therapists perspective on life transformation and it is available down below.   





Everyone experiences life transformation at many stages throughout their life.  From the moment you are born, your life continues to transform.  When you start to crawl, when you get up and begin to walk, when you learn how to speak, when you go through school relationships, work endeavors, family changes, life continues to unfold for us.  A good way to look at this life transformation is through the Transformation Triangle, as seen in the image below.

transformation triangle

In the diagram above you will notice three key points, Acquisition, Diffuse, and Call To Adventure.  These are the three key components of life transformation, and it gets quite interesting when you understand what each one conveys.

The Transformation Triangle

When you look at life transformation broken down in this form of Acquisition, Diffuse, and the Call To Adventure, it helps you to understand how you live your life through many different transformations, how they impact you, and how they change you.




Nolan McDonnellAcquisition is the stage where acquired knowledge is essentially random and everywhere.  One example, and perhaps most relatable for everybody,   It can come at you from many different angles and many different forms. This is your moment to acquire as much as possible with the information found or given to you.  One example, and perhaps most relatable for everybody,  is starting a new job.   You have to learn a lot, a lot of random and new information comes from different angles, however, eventually all of the newly acquired knowledge comes together and makes sense.  For example, you go through training, you meet new co-workers, make yourself known (introduce yourself), discover what is wanted or needed and expected, and then you start producing results from this acquired information and experiences.  This is what acquisition is all about in the transformation triangle. You start at that peak of excitement, learning, and implementing to be the best you possibly can be and do the best you can for personal satisfaction and the pleasing of others, such as your employer in this case.  You work hard. What generally happens after you’ve been at that job for a few years? Your creative burst of energy is lessened somewhat.  You do not feel the pressure to prove yourself any more as you advance in your position,  which brings you to the diffuse process.


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The Diffuse part of the transformation triangle is essentially the resting phase, where all of the knowledge connects.  So, in terms of the previous example of starting a new job, this diffuse stage is when you are in the rhythm of your new role. You adapt to your new routine and position, and therefore, you can diffuse and relax. You are settled.  This stage is where all of the connections are made. You discover all of the minor details behind the scenes of everything and learn why particular things are carried out a certain way.  You begin to get a deeper understanding about how everything works and why , and something in your brain clicks and you have an awakening.  You have realized your potential, and you have proved yourself as a worthy employee of the business.


At this point, you are comfortable with your new position and you feel established.


The Diffuse phase can be confusing because until you make sense everything, you can feel lost.   Have you You feel lost because you reached a new place in life and you were confused about where to turn or what to do next? just like the new kid at school, you’re the new employee at an unfamiliar business.  This is just an example, however, this phase can take on many different forms throughout your life. It could be a new hobby, relationship, journey, or any other experience.


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Call To Adventure

Following the Diffuse phase is the call to adventure. This is where things get exciting, wild, abrupt, and quite hectic.  Maybe you land a new promotion with a whole new range of responsibilities, or, perhaps you start experiencing medical breakthroughs if you are someone who has limited physical capabilities.  The call to adventure is the greatest feeling of all. It’s when you know you have done something right. It’s when you are rewarded, or you make a personal revelation in what you want to do with your life.  You feel these intense, exhilarating emotions that you have never experienced. You literally feel like you are on an adventure – one that could go right or wrong.  It can go right or wrong because not everything ends positively.  Perhaps you weren’t quite what that business was looking for, or maybe they can’t afford you, so you lose your job.  This is a sudden, swift change of course in your life transformation. One that can feel like an awful adventure, but an adventure, nevertheless.  This then leads you to find a new job, new knowledge, new co-workers, and the entire cycle starts again.  The call to adventure can be anything, but regardless of what that call to adventure it is, you always end up in the same phase of the transformation triangle eventually, and that is known as the Return, which will be discussed next.  Most importantly, the call to adventure is the death of the past and the old journey, and the beginning of something new.  Your old image is destroyed, and something new is created. If you started out as a builder first, for example, and started experiencing incredibly awful back pain, which led to you no longer being able to handle the physical extent of building.

You can turn this into something else. What about teaching building for students, or becoming an architect which doesn’t require the physical side of things?  The bottom line is, it does not matter what happened, what matters is how you react to it.    A new journey, image, and persona can be created from this new call to adventure. Rather than seeing it as holding you back, look at it as a way to progress forward and up through life with a new sense of fulfillment and a new journey in life is ready to be called upon.

The death and destruction of the past can be compared to the death and resurrection in “The Hero’s Journey.”


The Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey, also known as the “monomyth”, is the famous template of a wide category of tales and lore, however, one could argue that the transformation journey that our favorite heroes go through in popular stories and movies mirrors the transformation journey that most of us go through in life.



In regards to the hero’s journey, Joseph Campbell said, “You enter the forest
at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there is a way or path,
it is someone else’s path.  You are not on your own path.  If you follow someone else’s way, you are not going to realize your potential.”  In life, we all undergo unfortunate circumstances and the only way to overcome it is to answer the call to adventure and embark on a heroes journey of our own.  To reach our full potential in life we must undergo hardships because these challenges put us on the path that we are supposed to be on and overcoming adversity is where the transformation process takes place.


Nolan McDonnell



Nolan McDonnell


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