Life Lessons: Brian Postlewait

CEO of Mission Possible and 2011 Forty under 40 winner. We all have our own challenges and gifts

Brian Postlewait grew up convinced that he had to succeed in everything he did.

The CEO of Mission Possible, a non-profit organization in the Downtown Eastside that works with people affected by poverty and homelessness, grew up with a congenital facial deformity. Postlewait felt this isolated him from everyone else and led him to rack up achievements to compensate for being "different."

"Much of that was a drive to somehow overcome the differences that I presented to people out front, to somehow win them over, to prove that I was more than what first meets the eye," he said.

"That kind of drive produced anger and resentment within me, toward society and toward people."

But his outlook changed as a result of what he describes as a spiritual awakening in his mid-20s.

Through working with those afflicted by homelessness, addiction and extreme poverty, Postlewait began to understand that everyone is a part of the same world. Interacting with others, he said, is what causes real change from within.

"I had an encounter with something that was beyond myself that allowed me to see myself in a different way, to learn to love myself, and I think that gave me a new perspective."

Postlewait was able to move past his anger when he understood that he was not the only one in the world who was struggling, and that many people were hiding something just as desperately; the only difference was that what he was trying to keep hidden was on the outside.

His spiritual evolution continues, he says, thanks to the people he encounters every day through his work and on the street.

"When I see people that I meet in the Downtown Eastside, I'm not looking at their deficiencies and difficulties and disabilities. I'm trying to figure out their abilities, assets, capacities, talents and gifts, because I think there's something there that's hidden, just lying beneath the surface."

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