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Pushover to Pioneer
REFUSE TO BE FUELED BY FEAR
From an early age, I was driven to be the best. While there is nothing wrong with striving for excellence, the most important thing to understand is this: why? What is driving you to be excellent? For me, it was fear. I was actually afraid to not be the best. In my mind, any mistake or failure meant that my whole life was a mistake or failure. That is an extremely unhealthy way to live. Failure and pain are part of the growth process. But that was very hard for me to see or understand because fear of failure was the force behind my ambition. Success was my only measure of worth or value.
In March of 1997, I had reached my end (well…for the first time, at least). My life, which seemed glorious to anyone on the outside, was filled with misery, hopelessness, and fear that my carefully constructed personal façade was about to come crashing down. At 23 years old, my life’s work could be summed up by a long list of accomplished goals, but no real SENSE of accomplishment. Shame and dread consumed me; all the pretending was exhausting. But what happened to me in that pivotal moment in time would change the course of my life forever, and lead me to a place where I embraced pain, vulnerability and even failure. I traded fear for purpose.
For maybe the first time in my life, it was time to stop pretending I was perfect–that I had it all together and never made mistakes. After spending a lifetime “on stage” it was time to take off the make-up (figuratively) and lay down my pride. Yes, it was pride that ultimately kept me locked up in fear. Fear of failure. Fear of not being enough. Fear of what others thought of me and my life. And when that decision was made…when I realized I did not have to please everyone else or hide my flaws and failures…it was as if I had been released from a secret prison. And the freedom that came with that decision allowed me to step out in faith, confident that my life had meaning and that I would never have to be alone again.
Until 1997, I had called myself a Christian and had tried to be a “good person” (but failed miserably). I recall many, many nights when I would stare at the sky and ask–sometimes out loud–“God, are you real? Are you there? Why am I here?” When I made the decision to lay down my pride and accept God’s love for me, I discovered I did in fact have a purpose for being on this Earth. The God that I longed to hear from all those years was with me and for me. He loved me, even though I felt unworthy of it. And His mercy, grace and love filled the deep emptiness in my soul the way no accomplishment or accolade ever could. I only had to please Him, not everyone else. Even if I did not know exactly what my purpose was or where it would lead me, I finally knew I had one.
We are all on a journey in life. Regardless of where you are in your journey, or what you believe, know this: you play an important role in the bigger picture. It is a role that no one else is meant to fulfill. You have unique skills and personality traits. You have a calling. Discovering your purpose is a lifelong process; failures and mistakes are part of that process. Believe that and stop living in fear. Get honest with yourself about your weaknesses and flaws; but instead of hiding them, deal with them head on. Nobody is perfect, so quit being afraid because you’re not. GROW. Commit yourself to personal development and pursuit of your purpose. And let that purpose fuel your passion for excellence in life.