Do you remember the legend of King Arthur? Arthur was declared King of England when he pulled the sword Merlin a wise magician had set in stone, thus fulfilling the prophecy that only a true King could do such a thing.
Arthur then built a castle at Camelot, gathered his Knights around him, and fought successfully to halt the advance of the Saxons. These same Knights of the Round Table joined to search for lost treasure they believed would cure all ills – the Quest for the Holy Grail.
This powerful story is believed to have originated in the 9th Century, and its endurance through the years is testament to the fact that it taps into our collective awareness of the ‘personas’ we assume in our lives when we engage in our own personal and corporate ‘quests’.
Lets explore the power of the persona before we look at what Arthur’s Knights might do for you.
Remember the last time you were in an important meeting. How did you act then? Was it in accordance with what was expected of such a role? Imagine for a minute if you had offered to wipe the chairperson’s nose or told him to tidy his office? He might have reacted a little differently than if you offered some constructive corporate ideas.
The person you think you are in a situation influences how you act in that situation. If you are board director in the morning and mum in the afternoon, you might not think consciously about what you are doing differently. However, as you assume the mantle of each different persona, you would find that you automatically match your behaviours and approach to the needs of that persona.
There are 2 primary (fundamental) and 5 archetypal (pattern of attitudes and approaches) personas that govern all you do.
The first two primary personas underlie how you approach everything in your life.
- The Giver:
Givers serve others or the team, using purposeful or pro-active actions in service of a goal or quest. Purposeful action in organisations from more people lead to higher morale, improved productivity and sustained success. A giver will often em-power themselves by asking what they can do to achieve a goal or how they can contribute. The giver will ask “what can I do to add value here?”
- The Taker:
Takers serve themselves before others. A taker will often re-act in response to events. They will seldom initiate pro-active action in service of others and will often wait for others to tell them what to do or how to act. A taker can express a sense of en-title-ment by demanding ownership of something they have not earned: for example “I am entitled to a salary increase/day off/break”.
You might notice that you take the persona of both giver and taker in your life at different times. This is appropriate. However, when you begin to assume the persona of giver more often than that of taker, you add value to people and situations, and rewards invariably follow.
There are 5 archetypal personas that reflect the quest of those ancient Knights of the Round Table:
- The king or leader:
The king is responsible for the vision. He or she inspires and aligns people towards the common quest, clarifying the purpose and encouraging commitment. When you are being king, your focus is on vision and passion.
- The queen or manager:
The queen is responsible for the actions required to fulfill the quest. She or he decides the approach and creates a strategy to meet the defined goals; while improving productivity and efficiency; and harnessing talents. When you are being the queen, your focus is on process and directed action.
- The wizard or entrepreneur:
The wizard is the one who searches for the alchemy that creates gold. Wizards can be very innovative and have high personal initiative. They target actions that will contribute to the quest and have a high degree of commitment and passion. When you are being the wizard, your focus is on pragmatic dreaming and innovation.
- The knight or team worker:
The knight is the one carrying the sword and travelling forward towards the quest defined by the king and planned by the queen. A good knight is one who knows the value of team working, and is able to work effectively with others and make things happen. When you are being the knight, your focus is on followership and pragmatic right action.
- The fool or coach:
The role of the fool is to challenge conventional thinking and to inspire a view of the world from a different perspective. The fool knows that the perspective shapes the reality and he or she urges progress towards the quest by challenging accepted approaches and encouraging innovation in others. When you are being the fool, your focus is on reframing reality and curiosity.
So, how can you use these personas to move towards your own personal quest?
- Adopt the role of giver first. It will guide the extent to which your quest is value-able
- Take on the mantle of King to envision where you are headed
- Allow the Queen to guide your planning and create a plan forward
- Encourage your Wizard to go out to gather ideas, resources, tools, connections and people
- Send your knights out to do the work
- Allow your fool to evaluate, challenge and en-able your approach and then send in the King to re-vision and the Queen to re-plan.
For this next week, what would happen if you allowed your own personal team of personas to move you forward on your quest – whatever it is?