Jason Lucas is a 22 year old student at Colorado State University. Back in his senior year of high school he found himself drawn to books about self-improvement and leadership and has been educating himself on those topics ever since. In his recent class on Organizational Communication, taught by Eric Embree, Jason read Nick Morgan’s classic work, Give Your Speech, Change the World, and was deeply moved by the book’s challenge.
Expecting to learn a bit more about change-the-world thinking, Jason chose to write about Greater Than Yourself for his final project in Comm 250. What he didn’t expect, though, was that by the time he was done reading, he’d be involved in the endeavor in a very personal way.
Jason sent me a copy of his final paper, and it’s my honor to share excerpts of it with you on this blog.
Part One follows. (I’ll post Part Two next time.) He begins with a direct appeal to his teacher:
I wanted to give you something real; I wanted to give you something rooted in and aimed toward the content of this class-something usable. I didn’t want this to be just another Student Generated Project for you to read and think, ‘Well that was nice.’ I know this is your passion and that each one of these papers is a joy for you to read, since you learn a lot from them; but, I see an amazing opportunity with this project.
Why take the time to write a passionate paper and not give it the potential to change the world in a small way? I hope, at the very least, this paper will help you to lead from every position and empower you to create a better world starting with your very own “Greater Than Yourself” project.
Benjamin Zander, a renowned conductor for the Boston Philharmonic and speaker on leadership, states, “How do I find out if, as a leader, I’m awakening possibility in other people? You know how you know? You look at their eyes. If their eyes are shining, then you know you’re doing it.” I believe that that statement perfectly describes the foundation and direction of Steve Farber’s book Greater Than Yourself.
“Greater Than Yourself,” or GTY for short, is the act of choosing someone you feel deserves to become greater in a certain area and then helping him or her to becoming greater than you. They are then called your “GTY Project”. You do this by giving that person every opportunity possible, based on your knowledge and resources, to grow and improve in their chosen direction.
Let’s take, for instance, a famous celebrity. He or she learns about GTY and then decides to take a friend of theirs (who is not famous, but has a passion for acting) and get them in contact with their agent, managers, and even other directors in order to give them every opportunity to succeed. Not only that, but the celebrity decides to teach their GTY project every trick and tip they’ve ever learned along the way. Make sense? Sure, it may just seem like a “good deed,” or simply being generous. However, making someone greater than you is much deeper than that. Imagine being generous and then giving everything you have to give. This act, rooted in love, not only benefits your GTY Project, it also benefits you.
In today’s cutthroat world, giving freely of the knowledge you’ve acquired throughout your years of hard work is uncanny. Life, especially in the business world, seems to have become a competition. Why on earth would you give information to a coworker? This person could potentially steal your job or promotion if they knew what you knew.
Greater Than Yourself trumps this knowledge. In fact, it goes against everything we know as the norm. Remember how I said to be generous and then give all that you can? We don’t do this naturally because of our fear of losing face, position, or rank. But imagine, for just a minute, if you were to give all that you could to someone-allow them complete access to all of your knowledge, resources, and wisdom-how would you benefit? The answer wasn’t entirely clear to me at first. The typical, altruistic “warm fuzzys” weren’t enough for me.
Then I started to look at the product. What if my GTY project became incredibly successful? How would that make me look? What if every GTY project of mine turned out to be a superstar? What reputation might I receive? These are the questions that ultimately acted as the catalyst to my paradigm shift.