My Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter tribes have seen me promoting Steve Farber's Leadership Intensive coming to Des Moines next week. But I have to admit, with limited space, I'm not sure I've done justice to exactly why YOUO as a professional should care enough to pay attention to the even, let alone register for it.
So I thought I'd share a synopsis of my journey with Steve:
I was first introduced to Steve's work back in 2004 when his first book, The Radical Leap came out. It was a time when I was devouing every business fable I could find, as I was working on authoring two such books and was at various stages in the writing process. Being a B-college instructor, I've also run across TONS of literature on the topic of leadership. Most of which was a heaping, steaming pile of common sense with a huge yawn on the side. The very word had been watered down. I had seen numerous people who had referred to themselves as leaders perform very poorly, and quite frankly, I was becoming skeptical and cynical that a real leader could exist. As for me, I was at one of those stalled moments in my career, and because my wife had chosen to take a sabbatical from work, I opted for a "safe route" in for a boring client on a contract project that was considerably less than inspiring, subcontracting for a firm which sapped my energy daily.
Any description I could provide for the impact Steve's book had on my outlook of leadership and on my personal introspection wouldn't do justice to what I actually felt and experienced. But that was just the point: until reading Steve's simple yet impactful LEAP (Love, Energy, Audacity, and Proof), I really hadn't FELT nor EXPERIENCED anything from leadership literature. They were nice theories and words on pages. But they didn't DO anything to motivate or move me.
The extreme leader's mantra, "Do what you love in the service of those who love what you do," forced me to examine how I was running my career and my life. I knew I loved project management and helping companies get to the finish line, but often it was a job performed for people who more often than not, resentfully viewed project management as a necessary evil. I had, however, been on a couple of projects where my clients saw the value I brought to the table and expressed their appreciation for what I did and how I did it. BINGO! The entire formula was there! Do what you love in the service of those who love what you do. And I started being more selective about the clients with whom I would work. I listened differently during the interview process and began to turn down clients whom I knew would not love what I did. The right kinds of clients began appearing, almost magically.
While this was happening, the vast expansion of social media allowed me to meet Steve. First via blogging, then emails, then phone conversations, and finally in person at the inaugural SOBCon in 2007. About that time, Drake University had asked me to ramp up a new class called Leadership and Human Capital Development as a master's level elective. I used Steve's books, Radical Leap and Radical Edge (the sequel), as cornerstones to the class. I really wanted this class to be different for the students. I wanted them to experience what I had experienced a few years prior. But I was prepared for what really occurred.
I found students who were HUNGRY for real leadership, not just from their leaders, but from themselves. (Keep in mind, my students are mostly non-traditional students; professionals such as yourselves who work in offices and have families and goals and passions). Steve's challenge to use leadership to change the world resonated with them in ways I could never imagined. Over a third of the 100 students I had that first year made major life changing decisions within a few months of having taken the class. Many switched employers or careers. A couple of them went on to pursue their doctorate degrees. One of them challenged an abusive boss after years of putting up with crap. One accepted an overseas assignment with her company. Another uproooted herself and moved to another city after years of "playing it safe" (her story is still very special to me... the only student presentation to ever earn a standing ovation from her peers). The stories still keep coming in years after that class; Steve Farber's work changes lives and inspires people to change the world. Period.
As for me? I'm still an evangelist of Steve's work. I've been blessed with people who have helped me see past the gray cubicle walls into the world that could be. I love hearing my colleagues' and students' stories about changing the world (at least their small corner of it). This past year, I've been reminded how short and fragile life is. I've lost friends unexpectedly and had others journey through the gauntlet of cancer. In light of all these events, my daughter and I were talking about death a few weeks ago and she asked me what I'd do if I only had a few weeks to live. My answer surprised her. I told her I'd be ready, even at my age. Thanks to Steve's work, I've already accomplished a lot to change the world. I've made a difference in the lives of others. I've coached. I've inspired. I've introduced. I've taught. I've challenged. I've parented. I've authored. I've spoken. But the bottom line is this: I've loved. And I've done so for those who appreciate that love.
So what about you? You're sitting in a cubicle or an office. You're doing a job. It's mid-morning on hump day. You're already starting to think about the weekend. You're looking at your task list and your projects. You're checking in. You're calling. You're meeting. Do you want to exist? Or do you want to EXPERIENCE and FEEL something again? Or have you given that up as unrealistic, so you're content to spend over 2000 hours a year feeling nothing?
I wouldn't be much of an "evangelist" without an altar call, now, would I? There are two events coming up here in Des Moines. Next week, Steve Farber is here in the flesh for his 1.5 day leadership intensive. I can promise it will be a life-changing and world-changing experience. You can even get a 20% discount on this event by using JOHNSON (all caps) in the discount code. The second event is a one-day Extreme Leadership event at Drake. I will be facilitating that myself, but Steve's presence will be felt.
My motivation for sharing this is simple. People are either motivated by love or by fear. Fear of failure. Fear of losing a job they hate. Fear of not making a difference. This is your chance to change that fear into love. I've lived on both sides of the motivation spectrum. I'll take love any day.