Heart of a Warrior

The word “warrior” typically calls to mind a burly gladiator covered in dust, waving a sword. Or a burly Schwarzeneggar type kicking ass and taking names. The warrior I want to tell you about doesn’t look a thing like that. She’s 4’9-1/2” inches tall with a keen mind and a thick Boston accent.

We met many years ago on an excruciatingly cold night in Minnesota. She was interviewing me to manage the office at her small consulting firm. The only time we could get together was in the deep dark, cold evening hours. She invited me on a “walking interview,” so I arrived at her house bundled up in multiple layers of warm clothes. She leashed her elderly pooch and we set off for a three-mile walk through her neighborhood.

We walked and talked our way through the interview, our frozen breath clouding around our heads. Now at 6’2”, I am nearly a foot and a half taller than Susan. My legs reach nearly to her shoulders. So a nice, brisk pace for her was snail slow for me. By the time we returned to her home, I had the job — and a chill so deep in my bones that it took a hot bath to thaw them out.

In the years I worked with Susan, I witnessed her warrior spirit as she pioneered organizational development consulting in the Twin Cities. She’d bravely walk into a new situation, full of curiosity, good questions, strong instincts, and a zany sense of humor. As a friend, I saw her take on healing her body, mind, and spirit from the considerable challenges of her growing up years.

I wrote the song “Heart of a Warrior” for her as a birthday gift one year. (You can hear it at the link below.) Here are some of the essential warrior qualities the song illustrates:

Moving forward in the face of fear
Fearlessness is a great idea. Warriors know that waiting for the fear to go before doing what you’re called to do will ensure that you’ll never do a thing.

Bringing humor into challenging places
Unlike the macho warriors, we know the gift of lightening up when things get heavy.

Saying yes to life’s invitations
Warriors practice the art of “yes,” even when the “how” isn’t clear.

Using love to fuel your relationships and work
Love is willing to keep going when everything else is exhausted.

Bringing curiosity to every challenge
Warriors are well versed in the art of a good question and an inquiring mind

Knowing when to rest and receive loving care from others
Giving is much easier than receiving for us warriors. If we don’t rest and receive, we are headed for serious burnout and crippling egomania.

Most important of all – and Susan knows this well – warriors do best when they dance!  So crank up the song, get up on your feet, and do your full-hearted warrior dance!

Click here to listen to the song





About Barbara McAfee

Barbara is a voice coach, singer/songwriter, keynote speaker, and author who merges lessons from 12 years in organization development with the transformational power of sound. Her book, Full Voice: The Art & Practice of Vocal Presence (Berrett-Koehler Publishers) was a #1 Amazon bestseller in Business Communication. The book is based on her 25 years as a voice coach, supporting people from many professions in learning how to access the full power and expression of the voice in service to their work and relationships. Barbara’s musical keynotes blend practical content, sophisticated humor, and thought-provoking questions on topics including voice, leadership, and engagement. She was “the band” for Margaret Wheatley’s Women’s Leadership Revival Tour, which visited 15 North American cities. She also appears with authors Parker Palmer and Peter Block. Barbara has produced seven CD's of mostly original music and is founder of the Morning Star Singers, a volunteer hospice choir in the Twin Cities. She lives across the street from the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
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2 Responses to Heart of a Warrior

  1. Ah, I love that story – haven’t heard that for a long time, Barbara. 🙂

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