Unleashing the power of “genshai”
“You really have it with you?”
“Yes,” Alex says. “I’ve been guarding it for a year. I’m anxious to get rid of it. It makes me too nervous to have it.”
“It’s really in your bag? The same one that your grandfather signed?”
“Yes, the only one that exists.”
I sit in silence as we drive through the desert landscape, soaking it in that THE Book is in my car.
I remember the first time I read about the Book in Kevin Hall’s book, Aspire: Discovering Your Purpose Through the Power of Words.
In 1997, on a trip to Vienna, Kevin had wandered into a fabric store where he met an old Indian man named Pravin.
Pravin asked about the pin he was wearing on the lapel of his overcoat.
Kevin explained that the pin was a miniature replica of the Statue of Responsibility that Viktor Frankl envisioned being built on the West Coast of America as a bookend monument to the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast. As one of the original founders of the Statue of Responsibility foundation, he had spent the previous week with Viktor’s family, showing them the model and discussing plans to fulfill his vision.
“I knew Viktor,” Pravin said. “He was a great and noble man.”
He then pulled a large leather guest book from beneath the counter. “Viktor,” he said, “like many others who have passed through Vienna, signed this Book of Greats.”
He placed the book on the counter. “Kevin, you are one of the greats. Will you sign my book?”
Kevin looked through the names on the pages. Viktor Frankl. Mother Teresa. Indira Gandhi. Some of the Brightest Lights the world has ever known.
After a long pause Kevin thanked him for the gesture and said, “I do not believe I am one of the greats. I’m sorry, but I can’t sign your book.”
I know how he feels, for I know what’s coming in the days ahead.
But I also know why Kevin ended up signing it, and why I cannot decline despite my intense feelings of inadequacy.
After Kevin declined to sign the book, Pravin took him to dinner and taught him a word.
“In the West you might call this charity. But I think you’ll find this word has a deeper meaning…
“The word is ‘Genshai.’ It means that you should never treat another person in a manner that would make them feel small…
“Kevin, you are truly one of the greats. But you refused to sign my Book of Greats. When you made that decision, you treated yourself small. Genshai means that you never treat anyone small — and that includes yourself…
“Promise me this, Kevin. Promise me that you will never, ever treat yourself small again. Will you do that for me?”
Kevin made the promise, and since then has changed the world by bringing Genshai out of obscurity.
I ponder the meaning of Genshai — and its deep implications for my life — as I drive to Kevin Hall’s three-day Genshai Life Mastery event.
We arrive and settle in. The Book is placed on a table at the front of the room.
We sit at the feet of world-changers, men and women who are certainly worthy of signing the Book: Alex Vesely, the grandson of Viktor Frankl and director of the film Viktor and I. Ken Chlouber, the founder of the legendary Leadville 100 Race. Ezekiel and Pauline Sanchez, founders of the awe-inspiring Anasazi Foundation. Mickey Eskimo, one of the most famous record-holding water sportsmen in the world. Gary Lee Price, the world-renowned sculptor of the Statue of Responsibility. Jess Larsen, the amazing founder of Child Rescue, which rescues children from sex slavery. Chad Hymas, the quadriplegic speaker listed by the Wall Street Journal as one of the 10 most inspirational people in the world.
And always, the Book sits, haunting me.
How can I possibly sign? Immaculee Ilibagiza has signed that book. What have I ever done to be worthy?
And I learn through Genshai: We are all Greats — every individual on the planet. We are all worthy. We are all enough. We are all equal in the sight of our Creator.
And so it is that with faith not in my past achievements but in my intrinsic worth, I walk reverently to the front of the room and sign the Book of the Greats beside the signature of Queen Karina.
And after I sign, the weight of responsibility hits me, along with an insight: Genshai is more than a recognition of and respect for the greatness in each of us. It is a commitment to truly be great.
It is a commitment to honor our greatness by living up to it. It is more than an ethic of never treating anyone, including ourselves, small — it is a call to live big and to inspire others to live big.
You and I are among the Greats; we have been so from birth. But the question is this: Will we truly develop our greatness to serve the world?
We now know Genshai, and will never treat any human being, including ourselves, small.
But it’s not enough to just see the greatness in ourselves and in each other; we must also actualize and unleash it.