Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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Book Review: Greater Than Yourself

greater-than-yourself“The real pay-off comes in the giving of the knowledge, not the keeping of it.” The long-standing saying ‘knowledge is power’ has been used in many contexts. According to Steve Farber — author of GREATER THAN YOURSELF: The Ultimate Lesson of True Leadership — the only way for knowledge to truly lead to power in a person’s life is for that person to give it away. The reason this principle works is seemingly simple: “Everyone will want to work with you. And because of that you’ll be able to accomplish anything you set out to do.”

Greater Than Yourself follows the increasingly popular genre known as the “business parable.” What sets this book apart from others in the same genre is the main character: Steve Farber himself. Steve wraps himself and his love of guitars into the story from the beginning in combination with a cast of fictional characters that add color to the story. He draws you in to his adventure of finding the original owner of his new guitar, and through the adventure teaches you the power that comes from helping another person to become greater than yourself. The story is so compelling it keeps you reading and the combination of real and fictional characters helps you learn how to apply the principles to your own life.

The story gives character and life to a principle of truth that has existed for centuries: the more you lift others the higher you will go. This concept comes to life through the greater than yourself (GTY) framework and is fleshed out through several examples of GTY projects. The following elements combine to create the GTY framework:

  • Expand yourself: “You expand yourself in order to give yourself to others.” Shift your perspective from isolated to connected, from alone to interdependent, from me to us. Take a personal inventory of the things you do well, experiences and life-lessons that have taught propelled you to your current position and determine what you can to improve the quality and depth of your current knowledge.
  • Give yourself: “Act instead of just watching others act or hearing about it in the news.” ‘Philanthropize’ your life. Invest in relationships with other people and be clear on your intentions to make a difference in the lives of others. Promote their welfare, fortunes, success and capacity for achievement. Give away your knowledge, connections, experience, advice, life lessons and confidence. Hold others accountable for their commitments.
  • Replicate yourself: “Pay it forward, and demand that those you teach pay it forward, as well.” Ensure that your GTY efforts expand far beyond your own relationships. Challenge everyone you know to practice GTY in their professional and personal lives. Share your successes and failures with others so they can learn from your experience.

Greater Than Yourself combines a interesting story backed by a compelling idea that will absolutely make a difference. The story inspires you to keep reading and the principles come to life in such a way that you can truly grasp how to apply them in your own life. If you want to “lift all the boats” around you, read Greater Than Yourself, apply its principles personally and make someone else greater than yourself.

You can follow Steve Farber’s own GTY project at greaterthanyourelf.com, and if you’re brave enough you can add your own story to the site.

The Product Management Perspective: Product managers become leaders by helping others. Using Greater Than Yourself as a model, product managers can truly build peers and people on other teams, resulting in great products that people want to buy.