An integral of leading a business or company with love is making sure that the people who do good work with you know they’re valued where they are. A part of this show of appreciation is lifting them up, empowering them to be greater than yourself. Steve Farber discusses the concept of the GTY or Greater Than Yourself project. This unique initiative is something you can implement for yourself to extend a part of yourself to your colleagues, to help them get even better at what they do. Let Steve talk you through the fundamentals of this kind of undertaking, and what you should be looking for in your GTY.
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Making Others Greater Than Yourself
Love Is The Foundation
I’m going to take a little bit of a detour, in that, I don’t have an interview for you. I don’t have a particular presentation I’m going to share with you. I’d like to talk with you a little bit about a specific application of love in any context but particularly in the context of business. To be clear on the context, love is the foundation of great leadership and a great business. This is the premise that we’ve been exploring here together on this show and in my books. It’s the foundation of the framework, the radical LEAP, which stands for Love, Energy, Audacity and Proof. Love generates energy, love inspires audacity and love requires proof. It is this framework through which we can accomplish anything that we set out to do, in my experience.
I like to think of LEAP both as a framework but also as an operating system. Like any good operating system, it has thousands and thousands of applications. The same is true for LEAP, love being at the foundation. One of the most significant applications of LEAP is a practice that I call Greater Than Yourself or GTY for short, which I wrote about in my third book, which is called not coincidentally, Greater Than Yourself. The whole premise of Greater Than Yourself is based on an observation that I’ve made after my many years and now several decades in the world of business and working with business leaders. That is the greatest leaders that I’ve met never focus the attention on their own greatness. They don’t focus the spotlight on themselves. Instead, they shine the spotlight on others. They focus on others’ capabilities and they do whatever they can. They invest themselves in other people to raise them up above themselves, to make them greater than themselves, thus the phrase, Greater Than Yourself or GTY.
That creates a little bit of a paradox. The greatest leaders become the greatest leaders by making others greater than themselves. I bet if you look back over the course of your life and your career, you’ve had leaders, colleagues or mentors that you’ve worked with who had a greater belief in your capability than you had on your own. Who believed in you more than you did and who took opportunities to prove to you or help you prove to yourself more accurately what you can accomplish. They invested in you in such a way that by the time you were done working with them, if that’s the right way to say it, you are even better at whatever it was than they were. That’s what they wanted for you. This is what I’ve seen over and over again. I’m not making this stuff up. The greatest leaders invest themselves in others to raise them up so that they become even greater than themselves. The challenge is this, can you do that?The Radical LEAP: Love, Energy, Audacity, Proof Click To Tweet
Wherever you are, whatever so-called status you have, whatever experience you have or haven’t had, are there people around you that you can focus your attention on? Think of it as you’d be a mentor on steroids, figuratively speaking, figurative steroids. Is there somebody that you can invest yourself in to raise them up? This is what I challenge you to do. Start with one person. Find one person that you can take on as your GTY project, as I like to call it. I understand that calling somebody a project is a bit problematic. Some people don’t like to be called a project. For the sake of conversation, your GTY project and that is the call to action in the book and it’s the call to action wherever I go, find somebody to be your GTY project. Who is your GTY project going to be? That is a significant act of love in a specific way. The question then comes up, how do you choose your GTY project? Many people asked me that question over the years. A little while ago, I sat down and I gave a little bit of advice on choosing your GTY project. I’m going to share that with you some ideas that you can use to choose your GTY Project. Here we go.
When I was still in the process of writing Greater Than Yourself, I’d probably written about 100 pages or so at the time. I was having a conversation with a business associate of mine and we were talking about the whole idea, concept and practice of Greater Than Yourself. About raising somebody else up so that they’re better than you are at whatever it is that you’re focusing and working with them on. We had a great conversation. My friend asked a lot of good questions. After an hour or so, I finally asked him a specific question. It’s the same question that I pose in the book, the question was this, “Michael, who is your GTY project going to be?” The whole conversation right at that moment changed, it shifted and it became personal, whereas it was a deep conversation before, now it was personal for Michael. I saw the change in his physiology and in his face. His face turned red and he started pulling his collar. I don’t know that he broke out in a sweat, but that’s the way it seemed. He stammered a little bit. He doesn’t usually stammer but he said, “I’ve been thinking about that. I don’t know what to do. How do you choose? Is it going to make somebody else upset if they were on the same team? What if I don’t pick the right person? How do you choose, Steve?”
That’s the question that I’d like to explore with you because it’s a great one and it is critical in this whole endeavor of Greater Than Yourself or GTY as we to call it. How do you choose somebody to be your GTY project? I have some ideas for you and I want to start with an admission. The admission is I’m not sure that I have this whole thing figured out. I’m not the guy with all the answers. I don’t have a formula for you that you can apply in such a way to make sure that you choose the right person to be your GTY Project and you do it in the right way. I’ve got a good foundation here. Let me share these ideas with you and I encourage you to experiment with them and see where it takes you. I would love to hear your own process, experience, and trials and errors in this whole thing as well, which then we’ll add to the knowledge for all of us who are focused on GTY.
The first thing that I’m clear about though and I am clear about some things, is that you can’t assign somebody to be somebody else’s GTY project. In trying to answer Michael’s and anybody’s question about how you choose your GTY, my inclination is to try to put some strict parameters around it. For example, some variations on the theme of that question, “How do you choose?” have been things like, “Should I pick somebody who’s in my own team to be my GTY project? Should I pick somebody who reports to me? Should I instead reach out across the company and pick somebody in another department, division or another part of the company so I don’t create any political, emotional conflict, or messiness in my own team or my own part of the company?” It’s a valid question.
In response to all those questions, what I keep coming back to is I don’t want to put any parameters on it. I don’t want to put any kind of qualifiers on who should or should not be your GTY. Even though we’re talking here, this conversation here is in the context of work. I don’t even want to put parameters around that. Your GTY Project might be somebody in your family or community or in your circle of friends. In the work environment, we have a tendency to try to put constraints around things. I can’t do that. The reason is this, the Greater Than Yourself relationship is a heart-driven relationship.
It’s an act of love. Love is not a word that I use lightly. It’s not a word that I use loosely and it is the right word. We use love in all kinds of contexts. We’re not comfortable talking about colleagues that we love, although we’re comfortable talking about loving our spouse or significant other or child. If love is too much of a stretch for you, I’ll accept if you have a lot of affection for, or whatever you want to call it or you want to use are fine with me. Let’s understand that GTY is an act of the heart. It’s an extension of yourself to somebody else. You simply cannot assign that and you can’t put any barriers or parameters on it. I would like you in the first step of choosing your GTY project to open yourself up, and I don’t mean that in psychobabble or touchy-feely way, but open yourself up to the impulse to reach out and help somebody that you’re fond of. The fact of the matter is that all of us have lots of those impulses every day with the people that we work with. Pay attention to the impulse that you have where you find yourself drawn to somebody at work, for example, that you feel something for and that you find yourself naturally wanting to help. If you allow yourself to experience that impulse fully. That’s the first clue that we have that this could be our first GTY project.
Feel That Impulse
I’d like you to try somebody specific. Feel that impulse. Think about the people at work. Think about the specific people at work that you’re around every day. Notice if there’s any feeling of wanting to help. Helpfulness is a basic human feeling. I’m sure you have plenty of them. You can either do this now or do it later, but please do it. Get a piece of paper and list the names of those people that you feel that helpful impulse towards, that helpful urge towards, however you want to describe it. Write their names. Put the names aside for a moment and I want to take a different angle at this and we’ll get back to the names. I want to offer you a list of qualities that you may want to look for in your potential GTY project. More specifically, that you want to see in somebody you take on as your GTY project. I don’t claim that this is a complete list, an entire list, the only list but they’re foundational and they will apply to most people. You’re going to think of other things that you’ll want to have on your list as well. These are the list of characteristics that you’d want to look for in somebody who could be your GTY project.
Number one, ask yourself this question, “Who do I trust?” Trust is a key element in this because the GTY relationship is personal and it’s intimate that you don’t want to extend yourself to somebody who you suspect might use what you have to give them or offer them in the wrong way. You might use it, for example, to your disadvantage, to use it for political gain, to hurt somebody else or to get a leg up on somebody at the same time pushing them down. That’s not the person that you want to focus this attention on. Who do you trust? Who are the people in your life that you would trust with your life ideally, or at the least trust with your knowledge, contacts, advice, dreams, aspirations and deeply-held secrets that might be relevant for this person?We have a culture where we're not comfortable talking about the colleagues we love. Click To Tweet
Number two, it’s not a matter of trusting somebody but who do you believe in? We’ve all had people in our lives that had greater confidence in us than we’ve had in ourselves. Turn that around for a moment. Who do you believe in perhaps even more of a degree than they have belief in themselves? Who do you think that with your help can rise to heights greater than what you’ve been able to achieve? It’s not enough to trust somebody, you also have to have a belief in their capabilities, character, abilities.
Number three, who do you know that can benefit from and improve upon the gifts that you have to give them, the help that you have to give them? What I mean is you might have somebody that you trust deeply, that you believe in but their dreams, aspirations, their personal goals, and what they want to accomplish for themselves in their lives is something that you don’t have knowledge in and you don’t have any experience in. You don’t have much by way of helping them other than to offer them encouragement and support as any friend would do. Beyond that, you don’t have the storehouse of wealth, the inventory to invest in them. You want to find somebody whose aspirations line up with your abilities to help achieve those aspirations. For example, my GTY project, Tommy Spaulding has a dream and a desire to be a writer and speaker in the field of leadership. That’s an area that I’ve been working in for many years. In addition to the fact that I trust him and I believe in him and all these other things that we’ll talk about here, I also have something specific to offer him to help him achieve those dreams.
I have what they need, which is trust and belief. The next item on our list would be who has, any number of things to call it, the drive, the energy, the work ethic, the follow-through to take full advantage of what you have to give them. You might trust and believe in them and give them all these great things, but if they don’t have the drive to make use of it, it’s going to be a bad choice and bad investment of your time. I’m speaking from experience here. I’ve offered ideas, contacts and support to colleagues of mine that I’ve had in the past, only to see them do absolutely nothing with it. I get discouraged. If I offer you something, it’s because I expect that you’re going to take full use of it. If I give you advice on who to call and you don’t make that call. If I give you advice on how you can adjust your marketing materials and you don’t create any marketing materials. I’m not going to keep offering myself to you. Find somebody that does have the drive, the follow-through, the commitment, the work ethic, the energy to take full advantage of what you have to offer in the best sense of the word.
The next item on our list is a little deeper. This is something that requires a good deal of knowledge both of yourself and your GTY recipient. Pick somebody whose core beliefs, principles and values are congruent and consistent with your own. I’m not saying you have to find somebody that has identical values and I’m not trying to imply here that you want to find somebody who’s much like you and that you should only spend time with people who are your clones or potential clones. Not that at all. The more diversity of background, experience and personality that you can surround yourself with, the better for all of us. On a deep level, you want somebody that’s congruent with your values.
For example, let’s say that the value of family and the importance of family is something core and important to you. It’s not going to work well if your GTY project is somebody who doesn’t share that value. This is a personal relationship. You’re going to be spending a lot of time together, you’re going to be making decisions, helping that person to make decisions together. Decisions are things that happen as a result in large measure to what our core principles and values are. If you find yourself inviting your GTY project over for dinner with your spouse and your kids because family is an important value to you and you want them to be a part of your family. They don’t take you up on that offer because frankly, they’d rather not hang around those little yapping kids. There may be a problem there on a values level.It's not enough to trust somebody. You must also have belief in their capabilities. Click To Tweet
In order to make this happen, and the reason this is so personal, is you have to do, as all of us should, a deep and honest exploration of what your values are and get clarity around that. In my second book called The Radical Edge, I call this find this process, finding your frequency, finding that core belief, that core value system that’s your radio station that you like to play your life on. You want to find somebody who’s on a complimentary frequency is another way of putting it. The next item on our list, and let me preface this by saying this was not on my own original list. I came to this conclusion of this next quality from a conversation I had with my old friend Pat Lencioni who co-wrote with Matthew Kelly, the foreword to the book. Matthew is Pat’s GTY person. They have a GTY relationship although they hadn’t attached that terminology to it. At that time, it was a natural thing for them. When Pat was describing this relationship to me originally, he said one of the things that drew him to Matthew was how much he admired him.
He had this deep admiration for Matthew’s message, his mission in life, his ability to inspire people through his writing and therefore, he wanted to reach out and help Matthew to accomplish things that Pat had already accomplished for himself in the corporate and business world. What I learned from that was the full meaning of admiration, which I admit was a word that I’ve used without giving a lot of thought to it before. If you admire somebody, what that’s saying is you recognize that this person has something of value greater than what you have. In other words, they have something to which you want to aspire. There’s something about this person that you want to emulate.
The Greater Than Yourself relationship is reciprocal. In a sense, it’s a bit of a misnomer. You can say that the implication is, “I’m going to make you greater than I am because I’m much greater than you.” What we’re saying is we’re all greater than one another in certain endeavors, things and arenas. As human beings, we’re not greater than each other. We have ways to complement each other. My admiration for my GTY project, and I have enormous fathomless admiration for Tommy, by the way. What that says is that there is a lot going on here back and forth. I’m giving to you, but in a sense, I have much to get as well because I admire you and I aspire to be more like you, as well as helping you to be better than I in a certain arena. Who do you admire?
The last item on our list is we’re back to the L-word, the love. Who do you love? Do you love this person or at the least care deeply about this person? Are you concerned about the quality of their life and their ability to reach their dreams and achieve their aspirations? It’s an act of love. Let’s put this all together and let me recap it for you this way. It’s got to be a person that you trust, but not only trust, a person that you believe in possibly to a greater degree than they believe in themselves. A person who you not only believe in but can benefit from your own personal experience and your own personal expertise and has the drive, the energy, the work ethic to make the best use of what you have to offer them.
You’re not only looking for that great work ethic but the way that they work and achieve what they achieve is important to you. In other words, are their values congruent with your own? Are you going to believe in the way they do things and their approach to things as much as you believe in their ability to accomplish things? Is there something in this person that you admire and aspire to? Is there something about this person that you want to be more like? Is the love there? Do you care for them? With your whole full heart, do you want to see them achieve more than you’ve been able to achieve for yourself? That’s a good start.
I encourage you to add to the list, subtract from the list, and most important experiment. This list does no good if it stays in the area of conceptual thought. I’m going to state the obvious here. It comes to life when you put it into practice. When you start down this road of choosing your GTY project, giving to your GTY project, developing that GTY relationship and lifting that person up, you’re going to find that it’s not always an easy road. The road does get rocky from time to time, even though the idea is to choose wisely. You’ll find at times, you don’t. At times you’ve found that you’ve gone down the wrong path, then it’s time to choose another path to start over again. Find somebody else. It doesn’t mean that the concept should be a concept. It doesn’t mean that GTY “doesn’t work.” It means that you didn’t choose well. Learn from it. Figure out why you didn’t choose well. Take what you learned and apply it to the choice of your next GTY project and start down this road one more time.
I started by telling you about my conversation with Michael and the question that I asked him, “Michael, who is your GTY project going to be?” That is the question. It’s the central question of the book, Greater Than Yourself. All I want and my whole desire for writing that book was that when the reader put that book down, they would pick one person to be their GTY project and start that endeavor in their lives. Let me warn you about something ahead of time. In the future, should you and I meet personally, should you happen to attend one of my speeches, we meet each other at your company one day, we run into each other at the airport, or wherever it might be and you tell me that you’ve read Greater Than Yourself. The first question that I’ll ask you is, “Who’s your GTY project?” My fondest hope and wish for you and yours is that you’ll have an answer to that question.