My heart skipped when I recognized the script.
I hadn’t heard from Edg in the two years since he’d swept into my world and in one eventful week twisted my head and heart around until I got my life back on track. He had opened my eyes to the nature of Extreme Leadership and what it meant to take the Radical Leap—cultivate love, generate energy, inspire audacity, and provide proof; insight that had helped me beyond measure. Then, just as suddenly as he’d swooped into my life, he was gone. “Big waves await me at other shores,” he had said with his typical, annoying crypt
ic aplomb. Now he was back, in the form of scratchy blue ink on yellow legal paper. I excused myself from the table and walked down to the shore to spend a few moments catching up with my old friend.
The beach I’m sitting on is whiter than talcum and, this time of year, cooler than cool as the sand runs over my feet and through my toes. The waves are perfect here, dude, and the mist coming off the ocean is almost enough to spray away my grief over Pops. But I don’t want it to, you know? He was my mentor, my friend, my—is this a word?— shaper. It’ll take a hell of a lot more than sea spit to get my mind off him.
It’s weird, but I can see him so vividly now that he’s gone. Pops left me memories. And feel- ings. And—okay, I’ll say it—a boatload of money. Not that I need it. But the lessons, dude… well… you can imagine.
Pops taught everyone he touched how important it is to take the radical leap, and there’s no doubt that that knowledge will be at the core of his legacy. Pops was the champion of audacity, of the need to have a bold and blatant disregard for normal constraints. But most important was his deep, unwavering devotion to the plight of the human condition and the challenge, joy, and, ultimately, responsibility of the human experience. To be an Extreme Leader, Pops would say, is really nothing more than the challenge to be fully human at work, at home, in the community, and in the world as a whole. And, according to him, to be fully human means that you accept a radical level of personal accountability for making the future markedly better than the present.
Accountability has become an uncomfortable idea; it’s that thing that people desperately want other people to take. These people need to be more accountable is an edict that I’ve heard more times than I care to remember. Pops’ message is this: you are accountable. You. Whoever you are. Do you need to enlist other people? Of course. Do you have to make things happen all by your little lonesome? Of course not. Pops didn’t build an empire by himself. But he held himself accountable for everything he ever set out to accomplish. And everything he ever set out to accomplish would, if successful, change some piece of the world he touched for the better. That level of accountability, dude, is not simply about being more effective and productive at work. It’s not just about achieving goals and accomplishing tasks, and it’s not about proving to anyone how wonderful a person you are. It’s about living, breathing, toiling, and playing way the hell out there on that radical edge where you simultaneously stoke your business to phenomenal success, amp your life to the loudest possible volume of joy and meaning, and change the world for all of us. Hit all three things at the same time and you’ve got the Radical Edge as a businessperson and as a human being.
I’ve been thinking about you, Farber. You and I have a unique connection, and Pops certainly saw something in you, too. So I’ve been wondering: are you just thinking about Extreme Leadership, or are you ready to skate out on the Radical Edge? I hope you are because if all you want to do is enhance your performance, then burn this letter and go take a class at The Learning Annex.
Agnes used to say, “If you live in this world without ever attempting to change it, you will have sold a ruby for the price of Spam.”
That’s Agnes. She’s a ruby if ever there was one. She owns a diner near the beach in Encinitas called The Wake-Up Call. I spent a lot of hours there when I was a kid, hanging out there under Agnes’ watchful eye whenever Pops was traveling, which was pretty damn often. She was a woman who lived on the Radical Edge, and, believe it or not, Pops learned a great deal from her. And so did I. And guess what, so will you.
You need to go talk to Agnes, Farber. Today. Go directly to The Wake-Up Call. Do not pass go; do not collect $200. I’ve asked Smitty to point you in the right direction. You’re gonna love her and I’m sure the feeling will be mutual. Oh, and one more thing: Don’t forget your WUP.
[Note: I’m excited to share my second book, The Radical Edge, in serial fashion here on SteveFarber.com! We’ll post one installment a week until the very end of the book. You can go back and read from the beginning here. If you ever get impatient and want to scarf the whole thing down at once, you can always just pop over to Amazon and satiate yourself.]