What you think, defines your destiny

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become your character.
And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
What we think, we become.

Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady”.

Not everyone is likely to be a fan of Margaret Thatcher, who died in 2013, and I myself am not a particular fan of hers, but I was nevertheless touched by the statement above, which I recently saw in a film clip. You can influence the future by what you think. And what you think is, at least in The Netherlands, entirely up to you!

I had previously found that I could largely influence the way my days proceeded, by becoming aware of my own thoughts processes and the influence I had on them. It may start with minor things.

Now I often decide not to get annoyed by a traffic queue, but instead buy a cup of coffee at a fuel station and drive to the customer through the countryside. I choose to not get angry when it is raining again! Just try it. Walk into the office, not complaining about the weather and just keep being happy. You are likely to have a positive impact on the atmosphere by making that simple choice and in a positive atmosphere it is much easier to perform well.


As I mentioned, I got to see this film clip during my course, which I started, following a book that I read about storytelling. The book is called ‘Storytelling in 12 steps’, subtitled ‘on tour with the hero’, written by Mieke Bouma. Very inspiring and well readable. Highly recommendable as far as I’m concerned.

The course I attended was a five-day course called ‘Upcycling of leadership, given by Manfred van Doorn of Double Healix. During these five days, the twelve steps of the journey were discussed and Manfred made a DNA structure of the circle of 12 steps, simply by explaining that the 12 steps journey can be made on 7 levels. For now I will confine myself to the 12 steps in the circle. More information about the DNA structure (Double Healix) can be found on the website doublehealix.com.

12-steps. The twelve steps of the Journey 12-stappen
of the Hero are as follows:

1. The Prologue: Preparing for the adventure. On the surface everything seems quiet, but meanwhile… perhaps there is something lurking within you? Are you restless, unsatisfied? When taking time to reflect, which thoughts emerge? And what if you paid attention to them and took the time to do it?

2. The Call for Adventure: There is a call, an impulse. You must act. This call could come from within or from outside you. Do you recognise the signal? You may regard the signal as an unwelcome distraction from your daily routine or as a genuine call to start the adventure.

3. Resistance to change
It is a natural law that change causes resistance. Did the call come from outside you? Then recognise the resistance within you. Or if the call for change came from within you, then recognize the resistance outside you. Do not get upset, it is quite normal. No polish without friction, nor without heat.

4. Meeting the Mentor
In this phase you will have a renewed view on reality as well as on yourself. Often this happens thanks to the mentor who teaches you some new skills and sometimes they are based on new insights you have gained yourself.

5. Selection threshold
You will be subject to a number of tests which determine whether you have learned enough in the previous phase. Do not regard the tests as annoying, but as a chance to show what (and that) you have learned. If you do not succeed, you will have a second chance to learn some more… ☺

6. The Star of the Day
Once you have passed the diverse tests, you may be cheerful, enjoy and receive the applause. Your confidence will grow.

7. Settling
You will now start internalising the knowledge and experience and build self-knowledge. Time and room to reflect on what has happened in the previous 6 steps…

8. The Turnaround 
Fate strikes and the circumstances become particularly unfavourable.
You lose the initiative and meet with powerlessness. This obviously feels very uncomfortable, but in fact the real learning starts only now.

9. The Dagger 
In this phase you will meet the hidden and dark sides of yourself. If you have been through the twelve phases before, of course you know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. This may help you take away the sharp edges of despair (I hope for your sake ☺). The knowing and being aware of this universally applicable journey in 12 steps has helped me a lot, personally, to deal with great challenges. Whenever I am facing something nasty, nowadays I can regard it as a challenge, a lesson that apparently I need to learn. The process remains difficult, but at the same time it provides a lot of energy for me. Or reversely: if everything went smoothly, I wouldn’t be learning anything.

10. Back to the Light 
You can be salvaged from the darkness by concentrating on one definite vision or focus. Mostly you will remember the most important lesson of your mentor from a previous cycle. The awareness arises that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

11. Death and Resurrection
Now there is the ultimate test, during which you need to keep your chin up and stand for your visions and for who you are. Show character and confront the rulers or an imminent disaster. You put your status and security at risk. “The great thing is that while performing my job as an advisor, I have often noticed that it tends to feel difficult and risky, but also that many clients highly appreciate it if I take a stand and express it. Not to be obstinate, but rather because I believe in something or have formed an opinion from experience.”

12. The Elixir 
You return, as it were, from your journey with all you have learned and/or developed. Can you transfer what you have learned as a service to your environment?

Attending this course brought me a lot, for instance how the hard and the soft side of Performance Enhancement go hand in hand. Exceptional achievements demand, apart from efficient processes and control, leaders with an exceptional awareness of their own traps and qualities.


Once I learned that storytelling in 12 steps is not a trick that teaches you to tell better stories. The hero’s journey in 12 steps is a reflection of a common universally applicable way in which we live, develop and learn. It is always around us, and it is a matter of being open to it, to recognise it, handle it consciously and to use it to learn from and with.

Curiosity and being open to new (unknown) things, may lead to new insights. New insights that in turn lead to new opportunities and solution guidelines which we considered unthinkable before. That is exactly what HillFive is all about. Continuous improvement by inspiring people to (learn to) see and create solutions that weren’t considered possible before.

Would you like to react to this blog or discuss something, please email to hans.spitsbaard@hillfive.nl

Have a great time today!


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