Living in Pursuit of the OS!M

Here’s a guest post by Steve Farber. Check out the contest at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy of Steve’s latest book.

When was the last time you modeled your behavior after something you saw on the X Games? Well, as leaders, we can all learn from these crazy athletes because they each experience what I like to call the OS!M.

Imagine yourself on a street luge, lying flat on your back on a long wheeled sled, like a skateboard. You’re about to drop down an incredibly steep asphalt hill lined on both sides by parked cars, the board about two inches off the ground. At the bottom of the hill a quarter mile away is a major intersection, and the traffic light down there is your finish line. Your friend pats you on the helmet, gives you a mighty thrust toward Main Street and-whoosh-you are gravity’s love slave. The asphalt is blazing under your back, parked cars are screaming past your head and you can’t stop or turn back. What is running through your mind?

“Oh, shit!” That is an OS!M, or Oh Shit! Moment.

That is the moment of complete fear right before you take a huge risk to do something potentially great. The OS!M is the natural built-in indicator that we have as human beings that what we are doing, or are about to do, has extraordinary potential.

We have been conditioned to think that fear is bad. However, fear is a natural part of growth, and since growth, change, and evolution are all on the Extreme Leader’s agenda, fear comes with the territory. Fear can lead us to do something great or learn something new by pushing our boundaries past our typical comfort level.

Think back to the street lugers: do you think champion lugers won because they were comfortable flinging themselves down a hill at extreme speeds on a tiny board? They accomplished something great in their field because they pushed their limits and tried something new.

Leaders should be pursuing these OS!Ms. But leaders live under a microscope. People watch everything the leader does. Therefore, the most powerful tool a leader has is him or herself, and they must lead by example. They must pursue OS!Ms in the public eye for everyone to see. Sure, everyone might see you screw up, but that’s the point. By displaying your OS!Ms for all your employees to see, you’re sending a message that we should all be pushing the boundaries of our comfort level in order to achieve the best results.

Most businesspeople are skeptical of showing their failures. We’re conditioned to want to show the best possible image to our colleagues. The fact is we’re not perfect and leaders’ employees already know it. By saying to them, “I screwed up. Here’s how and why,” the leader is connecting with the employees on a more human level. The result is that the employees are more likely to follow real, actual humans with flaws rather than idealized facades of perfection. Plus, this empowers employees to pursue their own OS!Ms.

There’s no such thing as personal growth or living up to a commitment without the OS!M. Ultimately, you’re not being a real, effective and inspired leader—an Extreme Leader—without your own, frequent, OS!Ms.

Can you share a significant OS!M from your leadership journey?

A free, signed copy of The Radical Leap Re-Energized to the contributor of the most inspiring story! (you’ll need to leave an email for someone from Steve’s team to contact you)

Steve Farber ( is the president of Extreme Leadership, Incorporated, an organization devoted to the cultivation and development of Extreme Leaders in the business community. His latest book, Greater Than Yourself: The Ultimate Lesson In Leadership, was a Wall Street Journal® and USA Today® bestseller. His second book, The Radical Edge: Stoke Your Business, Amp Your Life, and Change the World, was hailed as “a playbook for harnessing the power of the human spirit.”  And his first book, The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership, is already considered a classic in the leadership field. It received Fast Company magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award and was recently named one of the 100 Best Business Books of All Time. His fourth book, The Radical Leap Re-Energized, will be released in 2011.