“Mountaintops inspire leaders but valleys mature them.”
This quote made me sit back and think and ask myself some tough questions. Would I rather be on the mountain or in the valley? Where am I now? Which experiences have given me the greatest growth? Well the obvious answer is that I want to be ON the mountain. I mean we all would right? But that is surface level and as I really challenged myself to think through this and what the implications were for me personally I realized that the pursuit of the mountain, while motivational and inspiring, haven’t been as personally or professionally impactful on me as my times in the valley. I need the valley to push me out of my comfort zones, to get real and raw with myself and make the necessary changes to grow as a leader.
But the valley experience alone doesn’t create growth or maturity. Upon more reflection it dawned on me that even during tough times, even during periods of real challenge it is so important to always keep an eye on the horizon to the mountain in the distance. It might seem so far away but it is critical to look up, check that it is still there and remind yourself of why you are pushing through the hard stuff to get out of the valley.
Rick Warren has one of my favorite quotes regarding overcoming pain (the valley). In it he says “Your greatest ministry will likely come from your deepest pain.” This strikes a chord for me on many levels. Ultimately it is about how you can anchor your vision on the mountain, your ministry, the future impact that you want to have on others, and then lean forward to embrace the suck and seek to wring every drop of learning from the experience of being in the valley. I wouldn’t trade away a single valley experience. They are just too important for growth. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil…”