How archetypes can help you unveil your true colors

How archetypes can help you unveil your true colors

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Published On:
August 23, 2023

Archetypes are patterns of behavior, symbols, or motifs that repeatedly appear in the narrative arts and mythology. In my last blog post two weeks ago, I discussed how classical archetypes populating the world’s great stories relate to  TIPS, thinkergy’s talent and innovator profiling system. But did you know you can also use archetypes to learn more about your true self? In our Genius Journey programs, we use classical archetypes in one of our transformational genius exercises to help creative leader candidates identify their true identity. Here is how we do it.

Archetypes can help identify a key foundational aspect of a creative leader

Our creative leadership development method, Genius Journey, sends aspiring creative leaders on a metaphorical journey to learn more about those disempowering attitudes and behaviors limiting their creativity, and to learn more about the corresponding genius mindsets that can unbox their thinking and connect them to their inner genius.

One of the foundational mindsets that candidates have to master at the second destination stop of the Genius Journey is to conquer their worst enemy (their ego) and resolve to be themselves. But to be yourself, you need convincing answers to the following questions: Who are you? Who is the real you? Who are you at your innermost core? 

Interestingly, few people have invested sufficient time to contemplate and define their inner personal core. Hence, we have several genius exercises at stop 2 to help creative leader candidates identify and hammer out their true identity. And one of these exercises is called, Archetypes and Me

So what is the genius exercise all about?

The genius exercise Archetypes and Me allows you to gain a better understanding of key aspects of your unique personality with the help of common archetypes. The chart below features the twelve most common archetypes and their synonyms.

The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung advanced the concept of psychological archetypes. He suggested that archetypes are part of the collective unconscious. Archetypes reside in this shared, non-worldly space that is always present and everywhere and represent the collectively inherited ideas and experiences of humanity that are universally present in individual psyches.

"The collective unconscious consists of the sum of the instincts and their correlates, the archetypes. Just as everybody possesses instincts, so he also possesses a stock of archetypal images." 
—Carl Jung

Why is it helpful to investigate your stock of archetypes?

Archetypes and Me invites you to explore what archetypes resonate positively with you and which ones are more removed from your innermost being. Becoming aware of your dominant archetype (and your supporting roles) gives you valuable hints about your talents, interests, motives, and goals. It is an effective way to help you become clearer about your core identity and true inner self. Moreover, your dominant archetype may even point you toward your passion and individual purpose, as well as the related ecosystems (i.e., industries, organizations, business functions, and professional roles) that may suit your personality.

How does the exercise work?

  1. Read through the description of the 12 common archetypes featured in the chart above. For each one, ask yourself: How close does this archetype come to my personality? 
  2. Position the name of each archetype on the hierarchy shown in the chart below. It features a pyramid (upper half) and an inverted pyramid (lower half) with fields linked to a 6-point Likert scale with the following scores: 
  • 0—That isn’t me at all; 1—That isn’t me; 2—That’s rather not me; 3—At times that’s me; 4—That’s a part of me; 5—That’s really me. 
  • The given hierarchical structure ensures that you end up with one dominating archetype and two subordinated supporting archetypes that also play an important role for you.

  1. Next, map out the scores for each archetype on the following two maps:
  • Map 1 positions the archetypes on a map with the dichotomies of Order vs. Freedom and Social vs. Individual.
  • Map 2 maps out the archetypes spanned by the axes Low vs. High Energy and Stands Out vs. Fits In.
  1. Finally, step back and take in the big pictures revealed by the two maps. Ask: What hidden message related to my identity do the maps tell me? Who am I? Then, harness any insights gained from the exercise.

So, how does this play out in my case?

Dare To Share is a key pedagogical element of the Genius Journey program. At the beginning of each session, the Genius Journey travelers reveal personal anecdotes about how the previous session’s learnings have impacted them, how they have applied them in their lives, and with what degree of success. Now, true to this notion, I dare to share how the genius exercise Archetypes and Me has played out in my case:

  • My dominant archetype is the Creator, supported by two other subordinated archetypes (the Explorer and the Rebel). 
  • Three other archetypes show up in certain situations and are also a distinct part of me: I also like to expand my understanding of the world to make it a better place (the Magician) and fight for my beliefs (the Hero), and at times, I enjoy playing the Jester.   

So what? Investigating my archetypes has given me the following insights related to my identity and who I am:

  • I’m an exploring, rebellious CREATOR who shows his heroic, magical and entertaining facets when required.
  • Interestingly, the first archetype map reveals that my dominant archetype and two support roles are all located in the quadrant between the two cardinal expressions, freedom and individuality.
  • Finally, I’m a high-energy person in reality and —as the second map confirms— also according to my Jungian archetypes.

If you’re an entrepreneur and a solo founder of a new venture like me, your primary archetype and supporting roles may also inform the brand archetype of your company and the related brand values. In the case of thinkergy, our core values are creativity, value creation, growth, action, and wow.

Conclusion: Let archetypical roles point you to your true identity

Identifying your primary archetype and support roles is a promising way to help you identify your true self if you’re unsure about your identity. I believe you’re most likely to succeed in business and life if you act in harmony with your main archetype. However, it’s probably wise to be more flexible with your supporting archetypes. 

For example, in the coming years, I plan to use the Magician more often and contain the Rebel in me more, as I believe it will add to a wider appeal when scaling thinkergy’s business and impact. But I will continue being true to my lead role as Creator, which is also why I intend to bring in another person as CEO to grow our business in the coming year so that I can move to the position of Chief Creation Officer. 

In any case, one thing is for sure: To become an outstanding creative leader, we need to insist upon ourselves. We need to insist on our originality and produce original value creations. We need to be true to our identity and the related main archetype. In other words, we need to be in perfect harmony with the lead role we’re all cast to play in this life.

  • Care to learn more about Genius Journey? Check out our website and consider watching this video or downloading our Genius Journey booklet.
  • Can you imagine joining one of our Genius Journey training workshops or even longer programs? Contact us and tell us more about yourself and your business so that we can jointly explore how we can inspire and help you.

© Dr. Detlef Reis 2023.