My story starts with a confession. Right after The Radical Leap hit the bookstores I read the cover and adopted the LEAP formula as a training model for students and staff participating in a leadership course I developed for middle-schoolers. Without even reading the book I recognized the power of Cultivating Love, Generating Energy, Inspiring Audacity, and Providing Proof.
A good friend describes what I did as “intellectual shoplifting.” With that in mind, guilt eventually prevailed, forcing me to buy the book. The framework I developed from reading the cover was good. The concepts the author describes in the story were nothing short of revolutionary. I promoted The Radical Leap as “the best, practical guide to the Golden Rule in print.” I also bought and read The Radical Edge. Farber’s two books became the foundation for an internship I lead last summer in the Dominican Republic for college students serving with Orphanage Outreach.
Every day we discussed the practical implications and the work involved in cultivating love. I challenged my interns to cultivate love with one another and for the boys who lived in the orphanage where we lived. We evaluated our work in light of loving behavior. We explored the depths of what it meant to be fascinated with and grateful for one another.
The results exceeded my every expectation. My minimum expectation is to function as a healthy, supportive team. My goal is to see our team evolve into a community. By summer’s end, we were a family. Interns, my staff, and the children living in the orphanage had become so close that we unconsciously lived for one another’s benefit.
Two stories illustrate the power of cultivated love: Manuel was a 7-year-old boy who never smiled and rarely spoke with anyone. We didn’t know his story, but his wounds were obvious to all. I didn’t use the terminology back then, but Manuel became our Greater Than Yourself project. We poured love into that boy, encouraging every positive step and patiently waiting out the backward ones. We studied Manuel until we knew his favorite games, activities, books, and foods. We knew his moods and learned how to time our approaches to him to make them most effective. By summer’s end, Manuel was a chatterbox with a bold, beautiful smile. Volunteers who visit our facility, meet Manuel and then hear his story are stunned to hear my description of the
“old” Manuel. Loving someone is nothing short of transformational.
We concluded our summer together with two nights of reflection and affirmation. The first night focused on the kids we served and the second upon the members of the intern family. My boss joined us for our final week so he could see what we were doing. Although he had observed or led a number of intern programs over the years, he had not observed our team. After hearing our team’s comments and seeing the deep love and intimate knowledge the interns had for the orphanage kids, Tom pulled me aside to share this observation (paraphrased): “I have never seen a team of interns with such a deep knowledge of the kids or who carried such a high view of each child’s potential. This is extraordinary!” He was seeing first hand the result of cultivated love expressed through “Greater Than Yourself.”
I bought Farber’s book Greater Than Yourself in the Miami Airport on my way home at summer’s end. I read the book from cover to cover during my long layover. My reading stunned me. Farber’s work did not give me new heights to climb, but instead confirmed our application of the principles he so effectively outlined in his first two books. If you live LEAP, become fascinated with and grateful for the people around you [as discussed in The Radical Edge], and endeavor to change your world, the natural result is “Greater Than Yourself.”
In 2010 I will be leading another group of interns. I cannot wait to see the impact we will carry forward in the lives of Manuel and his friends, and in the lives of our new team of interns. Mr. Farber, thank you for giving me a powerful framework upon which to build.
I’d love to know more about John and his work, wouldn’t you? I’ve left him a voice mail and I hope to hear from him soon. I’ll fill you in on the details as they emerge; in the meantime, to learn more about Orphanage Outreach, and/or to volunteer, donate or help them spread the word about their fine mission, please visit their website at: