How Did Passion Fuel Fearless Leaders?

We’ve been speaking about passion and how it drives leaders. Here are some examples of people whose passion has truly given them a roadway to success.

  • David M. Gerardi. It’s unusual for a member of the National Guard to receive a Silver Star for actions performed as a Marine, but Sergeant Gerardi did, following his work in Afghanistan in 2011. Pinned down by enemy fire along with the rest of his unit, he demonstrated “stalwart determination and vigilance,” by placing himself in the way of grievous harm to provide suppressive fire to allow the extraction of a wounded Afghan soldier. Gerardi’s parents, when interviewed, confirmed their son’s utter and complete passion for the military, passion that both drove and inspired him to put himself at risk. Corporal Josh Davenport, who served with Gerardi, said that “one of the biggest things we take from him is his heart. He puts everything into it.”
  • Sheryl Sandberg. Not content with her own stellar accomplishments, Facebook’s CEO Sheryl Sandberg has brought her passion for equality to bear on the success (or lack thereof) of women in the corporate world. Speaking about her best-selling book, “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead,” Sandberg says that “we can change the power structure of our world . . . Each individual’s success can make success a little easier for the next . . . In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”
  • Jeremy Bloom. When I spoke with Bloom, it was apparent he had an inordinate amount of focus and passion for each of his ventures, initially for freestyle skiing and football and now for building entrepreneurial organizations, including WebMD. He said, “I went to Wharton when I was playing football for the Eagles…that’s where I developed my passion for business. I was really considering development but I didn’t like the idea of limiting myself to bricks and mortars. I didn’t like the limitations of that model. I love dot-com. I love the technology of it; I love the expansiveness of the Internet. There are very little barriers that you can set. There are very few things you can’t accomplish online with the amount of scale and the amount of people online.”

Remember what happens in your brain when you fall in love? Well, falling in love with your mission or purpose has a transformative power. Bloom has been a serial lover.


  • Karl Mecklenburg articulated how he mastered his fear of failure. He stated: “I wanted to be the greatest football player that ever played the game. I had no business thinking that—but that was my mission. I was expecting setbacks, knowing that it was an extravagant dream, but there wasn’t anything that was going to get in the way.”

The second technique to strengthen inspiring courage is to develop so much passion and desire that they become stronger than your fear and overrule it, as Mecklenburg did. In this technique, passion addresses the question “why.” An extreme example that will help you understand the power of passion and its ability to overcome fear is to think of a mother running into a burning house. Why might she do this? Because her child is inside. The passion of love she has for her child overrides her fear of the fire.

  • Rebecca Lolosoli is one of the most passionate of the Fearless Leaders. Humanitarians are often greatly passionate. Lolosoli is more fervent about her cause than most. Her humanitarian mission to improve women’s rights in Kenya is so strong she has endured severe beatings and risks her life every day by speaking out. Another great example of passion defeating fear.

Passion moves you up on the performance curve. You will be able to be at your best under greater degrees of stress or levels of challenge.

What, for you, is a goal that is both important and risky? Thanks for sharing!

For questions about this post or for information on becoming a fearless leader, contact Dr. Cathy Greenberg and The Fearless Leader Group at (888) 320-1299 or by email at hello@fearlessequalsfreedom.com.

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