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6) The Ordeal: The critical moment in every story and a major source of magic in heroic myth.  According to Christopher Vogler (2007), “The hero stands in the deepest chamber of the inmost cave and faces a direct confrontation with her greatest fear. No matter what the hero came for, it’s Death that now stares back at her. She is brought to the brink of death in a battle with a hostile force.”

In our personal quests, the heroine is rarely facing actual death, but due to the nature of fear our brains may perceive our biggest fears as being DEADLY. You must conquer your biggest fear(s) to pass The Ordeal. What is your greatest fear?  

7) The Ultimate Boon/Reward: The achievement of the main goal of the quest. It is what the heroine went on the journey to achieve. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the heroine for this step.

Our fictional heroine has cheated death during the ordeal in the inmost cave and has seized the sword! The much sought-after prize is hers!

In many myths, the boon or prize is an actual object like the Holy Grail, or a plant that delivers immortality. The prize is more often something even more transcendent such as love, knowledge, reconciliation, profound self-realization, or a moment of divine recognition.

In my experience, the Ultimate Boon is the attainment of what I refer to as one’s Vision of Success. This Vision is not necessarily material success but rather, it provides joy, freedom from fear, self-knowledge and self-love. It can also be a concrete achievement like achieving business ownership, graduating from school or realizing a milestone in career success, but whatever it is, it MUST benefit others.

8) The Crossing of the Return Threshold/ Return with the Elixir: Once the heroine’s quest is complete, she returns to the ordinary world. The challenge for her in returning back is in retaining the elixir; a great treasure or new understanding. This elixir can be love, wisdom or freedom. According to Vogler “Unless something is brought back from the ordeal in the inmost cave, an elixir, the hero is doomed to repeat the adventure.”

When the transformation is complete, a circle has been closed, bringing deep healing, wellness, and wholeness to the ordinary world. Returning with the elixir means the heroine can now implement change in her daily life and use the lessons of the adventure to heal her wounds and those of others.

In real life the elixir is the story of your experience which can now be shared with others to enlighten them and aid them on their journeys. In myth as in life, love is one of the most powerful elixirs and this is shared by living your Vision of Success: bringing something of great value to the world!  

I believe we are all on a heroine’s quest to fulfill our purpose on earth. Therefore, I recommend that you clarify our mission, what I call “Vision of Success” and set about achieving it. When we succeed at our mission (pass the ordeals) and achieve our Vision of Success (The Boon/Elixir) we are bringing something powerful into our lives and something that is much needed in the world and for others.

What’s Your Vision of Success?

As someone who has made this quest before, and helped many others to make it as well, I can’t tell you what your vision of success will be, that’s up to you.  However, I can encourage you to heed the call to adventure and urge you to embark on your heroine’s quest sooner, rather than later, to clarify and achieve your mission.  I say this because when you do start this quest you will…

1) See your life as a big adventure with a purpose;

2) Approach ALL challenges as if they were dragons to slay;

3) Be filled with energy and joy rather than sadness/depression; and finally

4) Experience your power and feel true love for life!


Nicole Cutts, PhD.,
Professional Training & Development, Training People & Organizations for Success
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