Purpose Conquers Fear – But Only If You Climb

There is a line in my favorite book, The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho where the Alchemist says to Santiago…

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.”

I have spent thousands of hours over the last 16 years with my Airmen, friends, neighbors, students and even strangers helping them through times of great challenges and suffering. As a leader, my job was always to see the potential in people and many times I found they were crippled by the fear of the suffering to see how successful they could be. That is…until they finally believed in themselves and started to climb the mountain, knock down hurdles, achieve some of their short term goals and feel empowered! They realized and accepted the fact that their heart was never going to suffer if they were true to themselves!

I’ve climbed many of life’s most painful mountains as a leader, mother and friend. Both my own trials and I’ve climbed mountains alongside many in my tribe.

For years I would hear senior Air Force leaders say things like “There are peaks and valleys as a leader, embrace them, learn from them!”

Sure there are valleys, but we cannot stay in those valleys! We must have the mental fortitude to climb! Mental fortitude as my best friend said when he was staring at a 4,000ft mountain, his body breaking down in pain from over a thousand miles of hiking on the Appalachian Trail – “Mental Fortitude – just close your eyes and go!” He shared this mantra with me at several valleys in my own life and always made me snap back into Climbing!

It takes a lot of intrinsic motivation and mental fortitude to get to the top of the mountains of life and leadership. But if you don’t start climbing you’ll never realize your full potential as a human being on this amazing life journey. Life is meant to live purposefully, in the service of others to leave them better when you leave. I’m grateful to have made a lasting impact on so many people during my 20 year Air Force career and am excited in my new venture to make an equal if not bigger impact on my fellow humans!

So go out there and climb!!!

Love & Leadership,

Erin

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