At the end of our road stands a large steep hill. Last summer when our family moved into this area the hill was green and lush with a sprinkling of wild flowers. As time passed and fall came the farmers began to harvest the hay off the hill and soon the green turned to a autumn brown. Both summer and fall my kids would ask me about climbing that hill. I am happy to say we did make it to the top before the winter winds started to kick in. There was something about this hill; you just couldn’t pass by it without your eyes tracing their way up to the top. So it just seemed right that when the first snowfall came and the hill was all white that we would climb the hill again, but this time it would have an entirely different feel.

On this particular day my daughters and I put on our snow pants, coat, gloves, boots, and hat; armed ourselves with sleds and began the climb. It took a bit of encouragement to keep the troops moving but the anticipation of sledding down this hill kept them going. As we approached the top and looked down the path that many sleds had ventured before, my two daughters looked up at me. I could see in their eyes what they were thinking, “Daddy this hill looks mighty steep.” The excuses for not sledding down from this spot started to flow. Like any good dad I looked around for hazards (for a split second) and said let’s go! The sled picked up speed as we moved down the face of the hill and and thankfully at the bottom there was a long open patch of flat ground. We laughed and looked back up the hill from where we had just come commenting that the hill really wasn’t so high after all. Within seconds we were racing back up the hill for another sled ride.

This is a lot like life to me. I have a passion for sharing my experiences with others in an effort to motivate, impact and hopefully transform lives. I have sat before many great speakers who have had a positive impact on my life. It always fuels me to want to step out and do the same. I admire them, like passers by admire that great hill by my house. I dream and work for opportunities to get in front of people and share my experience, strength, hope, and knowledge. Yet it never fails when I am offered one of these great opportunities I stand at the top and look down and think wow this is bigger than what I thought. Just like my daughters did that day on top of the sled hill. I will find fifty reasons to talk myself out of it. I will start to compare myself to others and the little voice in my head will tell me that what I have to share is really not that important. Well, maybe it’s not that important. Just like sledding down that hill on that day wasn’t that important to anyone else. The three of us could have said “No thanks” made excuses and walked back down the snowy hillside. No one else besides us would have ever known. However, I believe my daughters would have always secretly wished they would have conquered their fears and gone. Maybe overcoming that fear was one of those pivotal moments in their young life.

This is where the rubber really hits the road for me. I have to ask myself why did I climb this proverbial hill in the first place? Do I want to share with others for the adrenaline it brings me? Was I in this for the thrill of the ride? If so, then it seemed reasonable enough to bow out. After all, the adrenaline subsides and the thrill fades. Based on those factors I probably didn’t have much important to say. However, if my passion is driven by a sincere desire to sow into others lives then I had to put my uneasiness and excuses aside and step up. Step up in front of the crowd and be vulnerable.

We have talked about the value of vulnerability on our blog before. In order to impart a portion of yourself to others, to truly impact you must be willing to be vulnerable. That day on the hill we were vulnerable, we had to be willing to get hurt for the thrill of the ride. When speaking in front of others (no matter the size of the crowd) we have to be willing to accept that not everyone will think what you say is important. We have to be willing to set ourselves aside and share from our heart. I had a very successful mentor once tell me “Chris I can only share with you how I became successful, my experience, and what works for me. If you want someone else’s recipe for success then you must go ask them.” He helped me understand that our real value in life comes from sharing our lives with others. You may not realize this but people gaze upon us (sometimes up at us) just like I do that great hill. As leaders we are being watched. We go through seasons of change just like the hill. It is our duty as leaders to allow others into those experiences of our lives so that they may grow too. On top of that hill that day my daughters grew in courage and experience, and built a memory that will last a lifetime. When I have the privilege of speaking with others and I put myself aside, I too grow in courage and experience and build memories that can last a lifetime.

What is your proverbial hill?

How do you overcome your inner voice when it is counterintuitive to your passion?

I would love to hear your experiences.

@chrismwalden

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