Let me introduce you to Chathum Nielson. He’s a student here (at Colorado State), a singer in a group known as From The Heart, is enrolled in Men’s Choir, and is a Communications Major. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of adding him to my list of lifetime friends. He and I have had a large number of conversations about self-improvement since we became friends. I’ve shared a few insights, but I realized that I’ve never given freely of all the knowledge I’ve acquired.
I’ve spent the last five years focusing much of my efforts on learning about self-improvement and leadership; I’ve read countless books, written numerous blog entries, and talked with various amounts of intelligent people who are educated in these areas about their struggles and insights. I may not be an expert, but I think I have a lot to offer Chathum. Immediately after reading Farber’s book, I thought of Chathum and decided to make him my first GTY project.
A friend of mine was writing an article for the school’s newspaper and decided to interview Chathum because he’s involved with the Men’s Choir. They both discovered that I was a mutual friend and went off on a tangent. They started talking about GTY and both forgot the tape was still recording. The following is a side comment Chathum made that my friend (the interviewer) decided to share with me.
“After Jason shared the concept of Greater Than Yourself with me, I knew, before reading the book, that this was going to be fun. I was excited, but extremely hesitant. That didn’t matter, though. Jason’s energy was inspiring and engaging.”
I don’t share this to boast. This comment helped me to realize a crucial element in starting your GTY project: enthusiasm. Your enthusiasm could ignite those around you to take action and join you in this journey. This concept is new to most, so the added zeal can only aid this process. That way, if the whole thing crashes and burns, you’ll know that you did all you could. Luckily, this story (so far) is a success story.
So, we started down this journey together in a united purpose; we agreed to work together in learning all we could during this GTY odyssey. Although it’s only been three weeks, I’m already seeing the benefits from this idea. Not only are Chathum and I becoming incredible friends who will, most likely, help one another for years to come, but we’re both learning. Sure, he’s learning about leadership, self-improvement, reading books, and having to listen to me talk a lot, but I’m learning as well-and not necessarily about leadership.
Not too long ago, I wrote a blog post about “Being A Contribution”. In this blog post, I mentioned how when one decides to cast himself out into the future as a contribution-someone who can make a difference in the lives around him-he immediately forgets about measuring himself against others’ successes. Instead of asking himself, “Am I accepted or loved for what I’ve accomplished?” he can now replace that with, “How will I be a contribution today?” This act of being a contribution immediately opens your world up to endless possibilities.
My reason for telling you this is because this is what I learned from starting my very own GTY Project. It’s amazing how this simple concept can fold on itself over and over again. It teaches both the teacher and the student, and allows two friends to grow and become greater than they were before.
I wish I had more to contribute so that you could see the repercussions of Greater Than Yourself, but, unfortunately, I’m still establishing this concept and learning of its significance. What I have learned, however, is that “real leadership is an extreme act rooted in love and motivated by a desire to create a better world.” That quote from Farber’s “Greater Than Yourself” sums up exactly what this book means to me. In this small, unfinished GTY project that I have begun, I hope others will be inspired by this book and find hope in its pages like I have. One by one, we can build those around us and subject everyone to fulfilling exactly what they were born to do. This concept has changed my life and I hope it will shift the paradigm in which you see the world and those around you.
Thank you, Jason.
I think our next generation of leaders is in very, very good hands.
Oh, and by the way…
Jason’s a guitar player and singer, too. Here he is on YouTube: