Fearless leaders, step out of the shadows

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Leon Calloway
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing command chief

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine it's not just in some of us; it's in everyone, and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

The original author of this abbreviated quote is Marianne Williamson, and I believe it addresses how fear is not only detrimental to you, but can ultimately impact all those you have the ability to influence both consciously and subconsciously.

You see, early in my career, I was the Airman who was comfortable shrinking in the company of others simply wanted to blend in because I feared the responsibility of wearing the title of leader. I refused to let my light shine because I felt comfortable talking from amongst the crowd instead of standing in front of the crowd.

It was during Airman Leadership School, in 2001 at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, that my fellow peers helped me and pushed me to look beyond my fears and to realize the potential and leadership abilities I possessed. It was a direct question from a classmate, Senior Airman Hicks, “You don’t realize and you can’t see that you are a leader?”

The words put the exclamation point on my ALS experience.

I was selected by my peers to receive the “Leadership Award.” I walked away with a new passion for who I was as an Airman in the United States Air Force.

So, I pose a challenge to you with the direct question posed to me some 15 years ago. “Do you not realize, and can you not see that you are a leader?” I challenge you to not let fear cause you to bend standards, cut corners and be afraid to speak up about ideas and visions you have for yourself, your section, your squadron, your wing and your Air Force.

The windows of opportunities are there.

Will you let your light shine so that you can liberate others from their fears so their light can shine as well? What will you do? The answer will not only impact your career, but the careers of all those you serve with directly and indirectly.

Be liberated from fear, be powerful beyond measure and watch the difference we can make in the lives of others.