One would never know that the highly successful leadership expert and author, Steve Farber once dreamed of becoming a musician – playing guitar, writing songs – the whole bit.
Those dreams, however, were put to the side when he soon realized that supporting a family and music didn’t mesh well together at the time. So, he gave up the idea of a career in music and began his search for a job. Fortunately, he had a friend who had an investment business and he offered to take him on and show him the ropes.
A few successful years later, Steve opened his own company – and found that he had become an entrepreneur. He soon realized though that despite running a thriving business, he hated it. Witnessing people inevitably lose money took a toll on his heart, because he genuinely cared about people – he wanted to help them.
Realizing he could do more, he got out. Instead, Steve decided to take his business background, along with his passion for human beings, and combine them to start doing training, facilitation and consulting work. Along the way, Steve also discovered that he was also passionate about leadership. He made it his mission to help people grow into their own extreme leadership.
While an expert in the field of leadership, Steve still has his checks and balances when it comes to either speaking at events or other training courses. Years ago, an attendee at one of his events about authenticity questioned if Steve was actually modeling what he was speaking about. That hit him hard. Was he truly speaking from his heart or just doing all the “right” things? Reeling from this comment, he sought out the advice from a mentor, Terry Pierce, and he had some simple but valuable advice. First, you’re never going to connect with everybody. But specifically with the man who questioned Steve’s authenticity, it was important to assume he was right and go from there.
Take a moment to see if there’s some truth. Whatever the answer, know that you can only learn and grow into a better leader.
So what makes a great leader? Steve strongly feels that leadership has nothing to do with your position or title. It’s not just about looking out for yourself and stepping on other people as you go.
“The greatest leaders are the ones who invest themselves in other people’s success. There’s a generosity of spirit and in what they give.”
Not limited to money, this includes sharing time, energy, contacts and so much more. Extreme leaders, as Steve likes to call them, do it because it’s the right thing to do. It’s about implementing a spirit of inclusiveness in addition to the structure of it. You can still have that hierarchy within a company and still function in an inclusive way. Real leaders are committed to changing at least their piece of the world for the better and making radical leaps (not coincidentally the name of one of his books) in love, energy, audacity and proof.
As you likely guessed, this isn’t the status quo way of thinking (but Steve and I would love it to be). So what do you do when there’s opposition? What if you’re the minority in a situation? Steve coaches that it’s all about finding your center of gravity. What do you love about the work you’re doing? Where’s your heart in this? Your values?
“If your heart’s not in it, you’re not likely to take a stand.”
Whether you’re against the status quo or right alongside it, Steve advises that you must make the decision to LEAD. Keep in mind that it’s OK to say no. It’s perfectly acceptable as long as you’re making the decision consciously and being aware of the “oh shit! moments (OS!M).
“If the only reason you’re not doing something is because the idea scares you, that’s the reason to do it.”
Let fear be your guide. Sometimes that fear actual means, “I should proceed, not retreat.”
Pretty soon, you’ll be seeking out those OS!Ms, and that’s ideal because it means you’re always growing! Because sometimes,
“It’s the love that gets us to step up and take action, and the OS!M is often the experience of taking the action.”
Steve acknowledges that there are several different types of leaders/entrepreneurs out there and along with that different works styles. Some people work the standard 40+ hours a week and others boast a 4-hour workday. His take on it? “To each their own.” At the end of the day, if you’re creating and accomplishing what YOU intend to do, it doesn’t matter how you do it. On the flip side, however, if you’re not reaching your goals, you may have to adjust.
When it comes to “work” in general, be it as an entrepreneur or in corporate America, Steve believes that all of it’s good. Not everyone is wired to be an entrepreneur, just like not everyone is wired to work for someone else. To Steve, the problem lies in the work atmosphere.
“We should be changing the nature of what it means to go to work – wherever it is.”
Even if it’s mundane work, if you love the people and the company you work for, why shouldn’t it be a joyful experience?
“You don’t have to be an ass to make money. You don’t have to sacrifice money for joy. And you don’t have to be a martyr to change the world.”
Extending on that point a bit further, Steve firmly believes that it’s not unreasonable to make money, be happy and change the world – simultaneously.
“Be totally unapologetic for the money you’re making. Be totally unapologetic for the joy your achieving in your life. Be totally unapologetic for how you’re having an impact to change the world for the better.”
With words like that, it’s no wonder that Steve has such a generous and giving spirit. His natural impulse is to figure out a way, no matter the situation to help. It’s not to say it always works out, but just the intent ensures that when he needs help, he’ll have a line out the door offering to help. With an unapologetic personality like that, I don’t think I’m alone in thinking, “thank goodness his music career didn’t work out.”