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No Barriers Podcast Episode 63: Exploring Vision: Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib



Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib was elected Washington State’s 16th Lieutenant Governor in November 2016 at the age of 35. As Lt. Governor, he is President of the State Senate, serves as Acting Governor whenever Governor Inslee leaves the state and oversees an agency whose key issues include economic development, trade, and higher education. A three-time cancer survivor, Lt. Governor Habib has been fully blind since age eight. His parents immigrated to the U.S. from Iran before he was born, and he is the first and only Iranian-American to hold statewide elected office in the United States.

 

 

Additional Resources:

Boundless Washington: https://www.boundlesswa.org/

A Climb for a Cause: https://www.boundlesswa.org/climb

The Washington Mask Challenge: https://vimeo.com/413000725

 

»Hear an extended version of our interview with Cyrus here

 

 

 

 


We’ve created the following Tip Sheet to guide your learning experience.

Download the full PDF version here.


 

 

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Episode Transcript

Cyrus: We need a conversion of the heart. We need that kind of spiritual and emotional change in individuals and then writ large our culture. Without that, we can continue to change policies here and there, but the underlying problem is the hatred itself.

Erik Weihenmayer: It's easy to talk about the successes, but what doesn't get talked about enough is the struggle. My name is Erik Weihenmayer. I've gotten the chance to ascend Mount Everest, to climb the tallest mountain in every continent, to kayak the Grand Canyon, and I happen to be blind. It's been a struggle to live what I call a no barriers life, to define it, to push the parameters of what it means. And, part of the equation is diving into the learning process and trying to illuminate the universal elements that exist along the way. In that unexplored terrain between those dark places we find ourselves in and the summit, exists a map. That map, that way forward, is what we call no barriers.

Dave Shurna: Cyrus Habib was elected Washington State's 16th lieutenant governor in November of 2016, at the age of 35. As lieutenant governor, he's the president of the state senate, serves as acting governor whenever Governor Inslee leaves the state, and oversees an agency whose key issues include economic development, trade, and higher education. A three time cancer survivor, Lieutenant Governor Habib has been fully blind since the age of eight. His parents immigrated to the US from Iran before he was born, and he's the first and only Iranian American to hold statewide elected office in the United States. This guy's amazingly fascinating. You're going to enjoy this one.

Erik Weihenmayer: Well, great. Welcome to the No Barriers podcast, thanks to Wells Fargo and Prudential, our supporters of this podcast. And, today, we have maybe our best guest yet Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib.

Cyrus: Call me Cyrus because there's nothing more clunky than the title of lieutenant governor, so let's-

Erik Weihenmayer: It is a mouthful.

Cyrus: It is. Yeah, it is.

Jeff Evans: It's fascinating. So, there's a lot of us who don't understand, I guess, the dynamics of this level of politics that you are in right now. So, as the lieutenant governor, so you're the current presiding lieutenant governor of the state of Washington. Can you maybe just give us a sense of where that falls in the political schematic, and then, what responsibilities do you have?

Cyrus: Yeah, so it's equivalent to vice president at the federal level. Every state has a governor, and almost every state has a lieutenant governor. There are three states that actually do not. So, as lieutenant governor, I'm number two in the executive branch, which means that I fill in for the governor. I serve as governor every time the governor leaves the state or were he to be unable to perform his duties, and I would become the governor automatically were he to leave his position for some reason. Another part of my role is to serve as president of the Senate. And then finally, I run my own small agency, which focuses on higher education and international relations issues.

Erik Weihenmayer: And, Cyrus, you've had this meteoric rise. I mean, I don't mean to embarrass you, but it's pretty amazing, Rhodes Scholar and Columbia and Yale, and you were the Democratic Whip of the state Senate, I believe. I mean, so being blind, let me start with the obvious, what kind of pioneering stuff have you had to adapt in the world of politics as a blind person and-

Jeff Evans: Hold on a second, hold on a second, so you just brushed over the being blind part. So, everybody that's listening is like, "Oh, lieutenant governor, Washington lieutenant." It's almost like Erik's title, "I climbed Everest, and, oh, by the way, I'm blind." So, Cyrus is like, "I'm lieutenant governor, and, oh, by the way, I'm blind." So, yeah, everybody. Also.

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah, and he's blind.

Jeff Evans: And he's blind.

Erik Weihenmayer: Like me.

Jeff Evans: Okay. Okay. Go ahead.

Erik Weihenmayer: Blind brothers here, and so what kind of doubts were there? I mean, there had to be a lot of doubts? And, you've even told me in person, obviously, some doubt from the world, like how are you going to do this, and all the procedural stuff in terms of the Senate and so forth.

Cyrus: There's a couple of ways to answer it. One is what were some of the silly doubts that were out there, the prejudices and things like that, and then, the other one is actually what were some of the logistical challenges.

Erik Weihenmayer: Right.

Cyrus: Erik, as you know, if you're going to climb Everest, it's not enough to say like, "Let's stop being so ableist. I can do it just like everyone else." No, you actually have to make accommodations. You have to adapt. And so, I think that's one of the things that makes, I guess, ableism is the term that we use now and anti-blind prejudice, one of the things that makes that kind of anti-disability prejudice so challenging is that unlike racial or gender or other forms of bigotry, it's not totally rooted in fiction, right? It's not completely a construct. So, there are things that are obviously harder for me to do because I'm blind, so unlike being Iranian American, where if someone has thoughts about my abilities, it's just rooted in an ignorance. There are actual legitimate things that need to be adapted.

Cyrus: So, let me first talk about the frustrating-

Erik Weihenmayer: And, by the way, Cyrus. I know exactly what you're saying. I'm totally connecting because when I was in college, I tried to get a job as a dishwasher. I thought, "Okay, that's a job I can handle." Nobody would give me a job. Everyone had a different reason. But, the point being that I didn't know whether I could do it either because nobody would give me a chance to either prove it otherwise or prove them wrong. So, I still to this day don't know whether I could have succeeded in that job, so I hear what you're saying.

Jeff Evans: I've been to your house and your apartment, and you can't do dishes, so...

Cyrus: Yeah. with the sample size of two, I think it's fair to say that we don't make great dishwashers. I'm willing to sign on to that. Yeah, it's an interesting thing, and because I think it's one of the hard things about being a person with a disability in society is that there's this kind of double play that you have to execute, where on one level you have to demonstrate your strength and your capabilities so that people won't second-guess you. On the other hand, you actually have to feel like there's a safe space to communicate what you need in order to participate fully and equally and compete, or even exceed, what other people are doing. So, it's just a really tough needle to thread.

Cyrus: I went to two Ivy league universities. I studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, which was built a thousand years before the British version of the ADA. So, I've lived in Guatemala for a couple of months studying Spanish on my own, traveled all over the world, taken the New York subway. I said, "Believe it or not, running for state House of Representatives is not even close to the hardest thing I've ever done."

Erik Weihenmayer: You've climbed Kilimanjaro last year. It was your brainstorm, and it was partly, well, you can tell us the whole story that your motivation to do it, but there's a really cool motivation behind it. And, as a result of climbing Kilimanjaro, you raised a lot of money and a lot of attention for a very cool program called Boundless Washington.

Cyrus: We wanted to create some kind of a leadership program for kids with disabilities in our state. I'd found this passion of mine was to create youth leadership programs. And, I really, really want to do one for kids with disabilities because I identified a problem we have which is that we don't have a bench of people who are ready to go and be champions for our communities of people with disabilities, in the way that you find among other underrepresented groups. We really don't have that, and there's a bunch of reasons for that.

Cyrus: And so, that was on my mind. And so, it just kind of came together. What if I do something? What if I do a climb? What if I push myself, and I use that to be the launching pad for this program, which would also be about the outdoors, which is important for us in Washington state and create an opportunity for young people to get leadership through the outdoors? Kilimanjaro, it always held this place in my imagination. I also knew that Kilimanjaro was a climb that you could do without technical training.

Cyrus: And so, that's how it came together. I'm going to climb it Kilimanjaro. We're going to use the money to raise money and awareness for an outdoor leadership program for kids with disabilities. And then, we said, "Okay, well, we don't know anything about providing outdoor leadership programs for kids with disabilities, so we better find people who do." So, we started with No Barriers because that's already something that you all do, so Outdoors For All and No Barriers are providing the curricula that we're using. So-

Erik Weihenmayer: And Jeff may not even know this, but PV, Jeff, I don't think he knows this, PV wound up leading Cyrus'-

Cyrus: Leading our group.

Erik Weihenmayer: ... group up Kilimanjaro. So, Cyrus got to hang out with the infamous Pasquale.

Jeff Evans: I had no clue.

Cyrus: I got the real experience.

Erik Weihenmayer: He was the guy who led our Everest expedition way back in 2001.

Cyrus: Yeah, so we made the decision, and we reached out, and No Barriers was game, and Outdoors For All was game. And so, we started to say, "Okay, let's get ready for the hike." And, Erik came out to do a hike and to climb Baker and then was generous enough to spend an extra day training me on his techniques and methods of using trekking poles and other gear and hiking as a blind person, which was really invaluable. And then, we went, and I did it, and Pasquale was... You couldn't ask for a better person to accompany someone who's blind.

Cyrus: The morning of the summit was the most brutal four or five hours I've ever experienced. So, it started out. You're climbing in the middle of the night. It's cold. It's the last stretch. It started out that every five minutes I needed to stop and just catch my breath. Then it was every minute. Then it was every 10 steps. And, if I sat down, I would start coughing insanely, to the point that I thought my ribs would crack. So, I was like, "I can't sit down, but I would just be doubled over panting."

Cyrus: And, I was like, honest to God, I was like, "Am I going to be able to do this?" I don't want to let down the kids that I'm asking to push themselves. I want to have credibility with them, and I don't want to let down other people out there who may think of doing this themselves. But, I did carry on, and I'd said to Pasquale before, a couple of days earlier, I said, "Look, no matter what, I need to make it to the top of this mountain. Okay? No matter what, I just need to make it the top."

Erik Weihenmayer: Good job.

Jeff Evans: Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer: Congratulations.

Cyrus: Well, thank you. Thank you. But, it just goes to show how expectations, we do, I think, and this isn't just people with disabilities, I mean, I know I keep coming back... I work in politics. So, I keep coming back to these examples, but, I'm confident that Obama lived every day in the White House thinking, "I can't screw this up. Both because I'm president, but also because I've got the weight of this historical first on my shoulders." And, I also know because she's written about it that Hillary Clinton felt a lot of feelings of that nature as well and sense of real in her concession speech, even, really wanting to tell young girls, "Don't be discouraged by this," and so on. And, I kind of knew what she must've been going through because that's what I was afraid of when I worried that I wouldn't make it to the top of Kilimanjaro.

Jeff Evans: Well, I'll tell you Cyrus, and Erik will speak directly to this, but Erik and I have been doing these adventures and climbing together for a long time, and I've watched the process of him almost shouldering that burden, and I'm going to call it a burden to a certain degree because so much of what you said I've heard Erik say in private and, in some cases, public too, that if he didn't succeed, it would be because of blindness.

Jeff Evans: And, he knew that there were a lot of other variables that blindness had no influence on that were going to contribute to the final result of whether we stood on top of Everest or not. And, I think that that added pressure is a heavy burden for some people to carry, but then, on the other hand, I'm going to say that I've seen Erik channel that into fuel, and I think huge champions do that. They're able to change their own internal optic of what that feels like and looks like. And, Erik is this stubborn son of a bitch, man. He, I mean just he will not be beaten, and I've seen that. It sounds like you got that same gene sequence as well. Just saying like, "Hey, I've accepted it. It's on my shoulders, and it is what it is, and I'm going to channel it and use it as a motivator." So, Erik, I'm sure you've got something to say on that.

Erik Weihenmayer: Well, no. I'm just... Back to Cyrus, and great things came out of it. There's... How many kids are in the Boundless, the first program?

Cyrus: We've got nine kids in this first cohort with all different physical and sensory disabilities. They're just amazing. They're wonderful, wonderful young leaders. They already have an interest and a passion in being advocates, and when they were asked in that intro day where you spoke, Erik, they were, later on, they were asked, "What do you want to get out of this?" And, overwhelmingly the answers were like how to be an advocate for myself. I mean, and not that they're not interested in kayaking and rafting and hiking and cycling and those things because they are, but it was really impressive to me that they were all... That's kind of what they hope to get out of it.

Cyrus: But Jeff just to say, to circle back to what you were just saying, it's definitely a motivation. I think one of the reasons it's a motivation is, I think the most powerful reason, is because it gives you something other than yourself to care about in that moment because if it's just pure vanity, that'll get you to a certain point, but I do believe and I have to believe that the most crackling, sparkling form of fuel and motivation comes when you feel like you're doing something for someone else. I mean, think about the crazy lengths that a mother will go to get her child to safety in a refugee situation or whatever it might be, right? That the lengths to which we will push ourselves to rescue someone else.

Cyrus: And so, this was a little flavor of that. It's not to be dramatic, but it was a little flavor of that, of saying, "This is a chance to motivate and inspire other people. And so, it's going to keep me going." And, it's important to have people around to keep you from doing something truly dangerous that you shouldn't do that's irresponsible. But, no, it was-

Erik Weihenmayer: I've found that many times because my friends, I didn't want to let them down. I didn't want to let people down. Yeah, that little bit of drive can be the difference. Kyle Maynard who climbed Kilimanjaro, you may know, he has missing arms and legs, and the only thing that got him to the top, he said was "carrying the ashes of this veteran who had committed suicide." He had the guy's ashes in a pouch around his neck, and he's like, "That's the only thing that got me to the summit was knowing that I had to sprinkle this guy's ashes up there."

Cyrus: Wow.

Erik Weihenmayer: So, yeah, that feel, it can be a good thing.

Cyrus: Yeah. Well, you had to get married.

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah, exactly.

Cyrus: Although there was a lot of time to the summit after-

Erik Weihenmayer: That was our honeymoon.

Cyrus: ... after the...

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah, our summit day hour was our honeymoon.

Cyrus: Your honeymoon left you breathless.

Jeff Evans: Ellie's famous quote was: "This is absolute misery."

Erik Weihenmayer: No, no, no, I said, "Ellie, this is our honeymoon." And, she said, "No, this is an endless nightmare."

Jeff Evans: Endless nightmare. That's what it was.

Erik Weihenmayer: I said, "Good, there's more of that to come." So, I know you've been asked this a ton, but you're a three time cancer survivor. And, you also, I think, you went blind at eight years old.

Cyrus: Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer: And so, I get to turn the tides and ask you about that process of going blind and does that change you? Does that make you more of who you might be?

Cyrus: I was old enough that I still to this day have this kind of archive of visual memories. My joke is that because I was born in '81 and I became blind in '89, all eight years I could see took place in the 1980s, so all my visual memories are still from the '80s.

Erik Weihenmayer: Me too.

Cyrus: So, everyone still looks like Cindy Lauper and Boy George. But-

Erik Weihenmayer: I remember what Gremlins look like.

Cyrus: So... Right! And, I remember Smurfs, and so, it's fun... Smurfs-

Jeff Evans: That's why Erik still wears dad jeans. Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer: All right, yeah.

Cyrus: Smurfs but not the Simpsons.

Erik Weihenmayer: Right.

Cyrus: But, I have that visual archive, but I was young enough that when other kids were learning cursive, I was learning braille. So, you're still in that mode where you're learning new things. Also, I was an only child, so I didn't have a sibling at home to compare myself to. Not that I didn't know it was different and unfortunate but my parents really did a phenomenal job of shielding me from the trauma of it. I have memories, of course, I've unpleasant memories of going to the hospital and being hooked up to an IV and getting chemo and surgeries and all those kinds of things that are very unpleasant memories from my childhood, but they're really quite few relative to when I... You asked me, "What was your childhood like?" It's really a bunch of positive, pleasant memories.

Cyrus: And so, I was just really, really lucky in that sense. I tell a story. It's shortly after I became blind. I was in third grade, and every third grader's favorite part of the school day is recess, and I was no different, but the school wasn't thrilled with the idea of me playing on the playground equipment during recess time, up on the slides and swing set and monkey bars, jungle gym, all the rest of it. So, while the other kids were playing, they kept me by on the sidelines with the recess monitors, which as... No offense to recess monitors, but that's not who you want to hang out with when you're in third grade.

Cyrus: So, I went home. I told my parents that I'd been excluded and how I felt, and they were as indignant as I was and, in fact, more so. And so, my mom went to the school the next day, and she took me with her to the principal's office, and it was important that she took me with her so that I could learn early on how to be an advocate for myself. And, she said to the principal of the school, "I'm going to take my son to your school over the weekend, and I'm going to teach him how to get around, and he's going to learn his way around just as well as any other kid, differently, but just as well." And, she said, "It may happen that he may slip and fall, and he might even slip and fall and break his arm. But that's a fear that any mother faces." But, she said, "I can fix a broken arm, but I can never fix a broken spirit."

Cyrus: And, I share that story because long before I knew about Erik Weihenmayer... Wow, almost screwed up your name, Erik Weihenmayer. Long before I knew about you, long before I'd met PV, there was my mom, and really both of my parents, but my mom, as the advocate, the lawyer... See, I think part of the reason they were afraid to let me up on the jungle gym was not just that they knew I was blind but because they knew my mother was a litigator.

Erik Weihenmayer: Right, right.

Cyrus: But, it was that, her teaching me that and teaching me to take risks and that it was okay for me to take risks. In fact, it was important for me not to be overly coddled, and then also how to advocate for myself. And so, when I look back on being blind, how has it changed me, in a way it's only been recently that I've realized it taught me... I knew this. That it taught me the importance of conveying strength, of obtaining power. And, that was what I was taught, and that is really a critical, the most critical part of how I got to win statewide elected office and all the rest of it. At the same time, what I've come to understand in recent years is that you can take that too far. And, there is a way in which, whether it's the mountain, whether it's cancer, whether it's the death of a loved one, like yesterday was father's day, so I was missing my father whom I lost to cancer three years ago. There are challenges and obstacles that you cannot litigate your way through or muscle your way through or power your way through. You might, and you will overcome those obstacles, but in doing so, you actually, in order to do so, I actually think that you need to confront your own weakness and vulnerability.

Cyrus: And, that was something that I was so eager to suppress because I was so eager to show strength. And, I'll give you an example like when we all met up at, after you guys did Baker, I had to be willing in that moment in front of total strangers to say, "How do I do this?" Or, "I don't know how." And, I developed such an exoskeleton around myself of capability that it took a lot, even for me, to allow myself to be mentored by other people. And so, I think all of those are things that blindness has taught me. Wisdom that it's given me about the world because you don't have to be blind or even have a disability that you identify with in order to experience that kind of waxing and waning that I'm describing from feeling like strength and power are the answer and being in control and so to then also recognizing there are moments when you have to face your own helplessness.

Erik Weihenmayer: Well, I find what you're saying super fascinating because I can relate to that. You get up on this pedestal, right? Maybe it's slightly different from what you're saying but people are like, "Oh, this guy, he's climbed mountains. He's great. He's great." You always hear that, and then you get home and my wife's like, "Hey, you missed that birthday," or whatever. And, you're like, "I learned that I don't take criticism well," and it's sort of like you're not used to it and because everyone's holding you up. And so, is that partly why you decided, I think it's public, right? That you're not going to run for office?

Cyrus: No, yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer: I get that you're going to become a Jesuit priest. Is that part of that? Like, "Hey, maybe I need to take a different course in life and maybe be a little more vulnerable, a little more contemplative," or-

Cyrus: Yeah, it's part of it, and it is in the sense that I first... There's an amazing, he died recently. There was an amazing Jesuit priest, theologian, and a former dean of the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley named Michael Buckley who wrote a quite well known essay. I'm paraphrasing the name, but it was something like Are You Weak Enough to be a Priest? And, the idea is that in order to be able to accompany people you need to, in their brokenness and in their difficulties, their challenges, you need to have confronted your own weakness. Why? Because this is, after all, a vocation that is wrapped up with a worldview that says that we are contingent creatures, that we are created, we are creatures, and that we live in relationship with a creator.

Cyrus: And, if we, as great of a politician, lawyer, mountaineer, whatever it might be, as great as we are, if we mistake ourselves for the creator or if we forget that we are contingent creatures, we're setting ourselves up for tragedy and deep heartache, and, also, we are not then equipped to accompany others when they need to confront that realization. And, look, I understand that there, I'm sure, there are many listeners who don't share my faith or may not subscribe to any particular faith, and so, what I would say is let's just even view it in a secular the way, which is to say Everest is Everest, Kilimanjaro's Kilimanjaro, Rainier's Rainier. There is a smallness that you feel vis-a-vis nature. There's a smallness that perhaps only, in physical terms, only a mountain can bring home to you, but maybe an ocean as well, right?

Cyrus: And so, you don't have to share my faith to believe in this, but it's just to say that, yeah, I came to realize through a confluence of difficult circumstances that I in fact need, whether it's that I'm on the mountain and I need Pasquale and Christina and Erik's voice ringing in my head, whether it's that, whether it's I need the prayers and intercessions of saints praying for me in that moment, God's help in that moment, whatever your set of beliefs might be, which of those you'd subscribe to, I do believe that all of them, all of those were present in lifting me to the summit of Kilimanjaro, and I think that the same is true for the passing of my father. The same is true for the medical challenges that I've faced more recently in life.

Cyrus: And, when I'm honest with myself, the same is also true for being a person with a disability. That, much as I want to project that it doesn't pose obstacles to me anymore, of course it does, and of course there is weakness and sadness in that. Doesn't mean dwell in that and be a victim or view yourself in that way or be disempowered, not at all, but it also doesn't mean alighting or ignoring the sometimes harsh and sometimes sad realities of a complicated life and a complicated world.

Cyrus: But, I do strongly feel that this is what I meant to do. The challenge our country faces right now is upstream from politics, the politics we have in the downstream consequence of a spiritual and cultural and social dysfunction that exists right now, a real lack of compassion, a deficit of understanding, and a growth of tribalism that has mapped onto political identities. And so, even just laying aside the personal desire I have to serve in this way, I also think that for the kinds of public service that I got into politics to do, in order for that to work, I've now realized we actually need people of good will to work upstream from all that, is to guide the society hopefully in a direction that is conducive to increase social justice, economic and racial justice, environmental stewardship, and taking care of one another.

Jeff Evans: You've realized that you can create more positive impact in the world through this new mission of yours as it stacks up against being a lieutenant governor, perhaps even the governor of a state, and maybe even higher office, and is that a good assessment?

Cyrus: What we need, either at the individualized level or at the cultural level, is the Greek word is metanoia. We need a conversion of the heart. We need that kind of spiritual and emotional change in individuals and then writ large our culture. And so, I have determined that that is more important. Without that, we can continue to change policies here and there, but the underlying problem that really, really is what we hate. What we really hate is the racism, the hatred itself. That's what we can't stand, and so, to get to the heart of the matter, I think we need people to serve in this way, in this fashion, and I think that embedded in your question, I think is this, you asked it quite neutrally so I don't, maybe you weren't insinuating this, but I think that many people kind of insinuate, isn't it better to do things at scale? And, we have an obsession in our society. It's wrapped up with how our economy works. That everything has to be scalable and has to grow and has to be bigger. And, the bigger the thing, the bigger the impact, the better the good is.

Cyrus: And, I guess I would just question that there's definitely a time for scale, but George Floyd was not a famous person. He was not a person who any of us would have ever expected to change the course of history, and yet, through his death, through a seemingly insignificant unknown person dying somewhere from a police officer who nobody knew either, that one act will have changed history. And, in my faith, the ultimate example of that is a poor traveling rabbi who died and was executed in a pretty not earth shattering way by the logic of the Romans or of the Jews in that time, but, he asked his friends to break bread in remembrance of him, and as we record this podcast, around the world, millions of people at this very instance that I'm uttering this sentence are doing that very thing that he asked 2000 years ago. So, either one could be a person of faith and say, "That's because it's the Holy Spirit," or you don't have to even believe to say, "Look at what one kind of small figure, not a King, not an emperor, not a high priest, but one person, 2000 years later, in every corner of the earth, people are obeying that." What an amazing testament to how what we consider small, what we consider big are often limited by our own very, very narrow conceptions of those things.

Erik Weihenmayer: Well, Cyrus that's a really coherent, but I'm glad. I heard you say all that because it's this really cool counterintuitive course that you're taking, but when you lay it out in that way, it makes perfect sense. Instead of being an external leader, shifting more with what society is looking for at that moment, you're getting to the source of these things, the source which is the heart, which is the spirit. And-

Cyrus: That's right.

Erik Weihenmayer: That's a really, really cool, and I bet really illuminating for people to know that they have that power to shift in their lives in a pretty dramatic way.

Erik Weihenmayer: Well, thank you, Cyrus so much really. It's such a privilege.

Cyrus: Thank you for your friendship and your mentorship to me and to countless others.

Erik Weihenmayer: All right. Well, thank you. Jeff, what did you take away from that?

Jeff Evans: Well, clearly Cyrus is probably one of the more interesting people that I think any of us have been introduced to in recent memory. I mean, this guy's, he's just got such an amazing story. Every single step of the way has been amazing, and he's clearly shown courage and resiliency through it all, and I would say, maybe not even right to say it, but I feel like the most courageous thing that he's doing is what he's about to embark on now. It seems the culmination of everything he's done. He's got such a successful career, what people would consider a really amazing position right now and something you could really build on, and in a way, he is, but he's doing it in an unconventional way. The courage and the bravery that it takes for him to step back and listen to his spirit and his soul and what's calling him. Clearly, there had to have been a place where he felt a little disenchanted or maybe even disenfranchised from the political scheme and platform that he has right now. But, I applaud him for finding a way to be able to redirect and still create amazing impact for generations to come. So, what an amazing guy. What about you Erik?

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah, I totally agree. Cyrus was on this track, and when you get on a track and I imagine the desperation of going blind and the fear that you're not going to be able to achieve all your dreams, and then you persevere, right? You're a Rhodes Scholar, and you go to an Ivy league school, get a law degree and actually get elected into office, and you're on this incredible trajectory possibly to become the first blind governor of Washington state, and you turn inward, and this is what we preach at No Barriers all the time, this idea of vision, right? You turn inward, and you say, "Hey, this course does not feel right for me. I'm tapping into what purpose means to me, and it's not right, and I think I can have a bigger impact closer to the source, really getting and changing people's hearts and their spiritual lives. And, I think that's going to have a bigger impact on the world."

Erik Weihenmayer: But, that is a very counterintuitive decision, and I think that's a good thing to point out in this no barriers journey is that you don't just get on a track and just keep rolling forward and get a lot of recognition in a claim and say, "Okay, this is my destiny." No, you can change course at any time. You can say, "Hey, you know what, I'm going to shift." But, that really does take, not just being in touch with the external rewards and recognition, but really tapping into that vision, so good job Cyrus. You really are an amazing representative of having vision. Pardon the pun, I guess.

Erik Weihenmayer: Thanks again, everybody. Thank you to Wells Fargo and Prudential for all the community listening out there. If you guys like No Barriers and support our mission, we'll support the companies that support us. Thank you guys. No Barriers.

Dave Shurna: : The production team behind this podcast includes senior producer, Pauline Shaffer; executive producer, [Dietrich Jonk; sound design, editing, and mixing by Tyler Cottman; graphics by Sam Davis; and marketing support by Megan Lee and Carly Sandsmark. Special thanks to The Dan Ryan band for our intro song, Guidance. And, thanks to all of you for listening. We know that you've got a lot of choices about how you can spend your time, and we appreciate you spending it with us. If you enjoyed this podcast, we encourage you to subscribe to it, share it, and give us a review. Show notes can be found at nobarrierspodcast.com.


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