Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Taking the Radical Leap: Turning Fear Into Leadership Opportunity!

Many years ago, in fact 1969, moviegoers were treated to an amazing and highly entertaining film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  This epic film, nominated for 7 Academy Awards (It won four, including Best Music, Song for “Raindrops Keep Fallin on My Head”)  featured a  pivotal scene in which Butch (Paul Newman) and Sundance (Robert Redford) face a formidable challenge.   Here is that famous clip, thanks to YouTube.

Can you remember, at some point in your life, facing a challenge of this magnitude?   Did it scare the hell out of you?  I’m guessing that, if you’ve had an experience like this, there was a voice inside of you telling you to ignore your fear, and forge forward.  Yet, there was probably also a conflicting voice, the one driven by self doubt, advising you to bail out …  in essence “get the hell out of Dodge!”  Which voice did you listen to?

Turning Fear Into Leadership Opportunities — The OS!M

Photo Courtesy of "Sharenator"

Leadership guru Steve Farber believes fear is actually a signal, within our bodies, telling us we are about to stretch ourselves, to do something profound, or significant.    Steve also theorizes that if we are afraid of a challenge, then most likely we should embrace it, with a full head of steam.  In his book, The Radical Leap, Mr. Farber affectionately refers to the fear sensation as the OS!M. (Oh Shit Moment!)    Can you see how Butch and Sundance’s experience fit into this story?  :)

For those of you not aware Steve Farber is the author of three outstanding leadership books.  Steve’s messaging is cleverly delivered through the lens of a “business parable.”  He is a supreme storyteller, and by the way, a gifted public speaker.  In the live version of his leadership presentation, Steve’s sense of humor is as engaging as his  message is believable.

“To say there is no place for love at work is literally insane.  You are the same person at work that you are at home. You don’t rip out your heart and leave it on the sidewalk when you arrive at work and then put it back in your body at the end of the day.”  — Steve Farber, on ‘Love’ in the workplace

Taking the Radical LEAP

Steve’s central theme, to his leadership philosophy, is that every successful leader must take the Radical LEAP.  The acronym “LEAP,” has some real depth to its meaning.  In essence extreme leaders must possess the following traits:

Love: Successful leaders model the intensity and energy that it takes to stay ahead competitively and meet ever more ambitious goals.  They do this because they love what they do. Love generates energy!

Energy: Ask yourself this question —  Do I generate more energy when I walk into a room, or when I walk out of it?  Well put.  Do your actions create positive energy for those around you, or are you an “energy vampire,” sucking the life out of your workplace?  Hopefully you are the former, and not the latter.

Audacity: A bold and blatant disregard for normal constraints.  Thinking, and acting, “outside the box.”  Audacity inspires people to do something really significant and meaningful.  It enables them to change the world, for the better.

Proof: How do we prove to ourselves (and to others) that we are really exercising extreme leadership? The simple answer is “Do What You Say You Will Do.” (DWYSYWD) Having the previously mentioned “OS!M” is a fairly good indicator that you are on the right track.

Discover Who You Are!

So, here are some questions I will challenge you with:

Are you the kind of person that clearly loves what you do? Do you wake up most days excited about what the day will bring?  Or are you the ‘walking dead’ … a zombie  sitting at your desk staring lifelessly into your computer screen?

Does your presence in a room foster energy amongst your colleagues, and business associates?  Or, do people run for cover when you arrive?

Do you motivate people to take on calculated risk, or try new things, to experiment? Are you always looking for opportunities to change the world for the greater good?  Or, are you satisfied with the status quo, keeping things the way they are?

Do you occasionally, or even frequently,  have an OS!M? Rather than clouding your actions with self doubt, do you accept the challenge of that moment, head on?

Most all of us, at some level, have the innate ability to become  a leader, and many of us are leaders, sometimes without even knowing it.  Getting fully in tune with who you are, and then following your heart, will go a long way towards helping you discover who you might become.

Question:  Do you have a great example of a pivotal OS!M you could share with us?  We would love to hear about it!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara Palmer September 30, 2010 at 8:29 am

I have made two cross-country moves in the last ten years and each one definitely carried an OSM :)

What really resonated with me from Steve’s talk was his discussion of how love creates energy. It’s always struck me that a certain kind of work for me carries its own little engine — motoring along and my appetite for it always renewing itself. Workwise, that’s as good as it gets.


Michael M McCurry CMP September 30, 2010 at 8:36 am

Hey Barbara,

Great to have you in the conversation. I would love to hear more about your OS!M with your moves sometime.

I like the reference to work carrying its own little engine. Steve’s LEAP philosophy really resonates with me and I really loved the humorous way in which he delivered it at the GMC event.

He has become one of my heroes for sure!

Thanks for contributing.



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