I once asked my friend Lewis Randa, who personally knew Mother Teresa, what it was like to be around her. He said, “Mother Teresa was special because she just didn’t allow you to do anything but love yourself.”
It was April 2015, and we were halfway through production on our developing documentary series, “The Radiant Project,” when I asked Lewis that question; it hit me then that the way he described Mother Teresa perfectly expresses what we've found it means to be “radiant.”
“The Radiant Project” started out as a documentary series about individuals who empower others, and slowly became a study of impact through vulnerability. To learn how to become incredible leaders we were looking for a to-do list. However, we discovered that in true leadership people don't do what you say, they follow who you are. And that's what The Radiant Project documentaries are about: Humans who were nominated by a person they impacted greatly, not necessarily because of what they do, but because of who they decide to be every day. They are evidence of the joy life holds and the impact one person can have when focused on giving their whole self to the people around them.
When we started traveling and filming I knew I believed authentic love dissipates fear, and I think most people (except certain Sith apologists) would say they believe fulfillment in life comes from love and connection; but I was humbled as I recognized the gap between what I declare as my belief system and the way I sometimes behave. I noticed that when my ego feels threatened I try to protect myself by putting on an act, judging others, or disconnecting from the people in my life. At those times I withhold love from those around me because I don't feel worthy of love myself. The well from which I draw my sustenance to give is poisoned, and I can't think about other people. I think we all have some automatic reaction bred into us that comes out when we feel afraid, and these have been mine.
But some among us fully embrace their fears and inadequacies as a part of who they are, rather than fight them, or pretend they aren’t there. They don’t put up armor to protect themselves, and are made all the more powerful because their authenticity and vulnerability open the door to connection. They keep their eyes open to those around them; they see us for the beautiful individuals we are, and for who we could be if we simply stopped holding up a mask. They are in touch with their own responsibility and power to create a loving world, even if it’s one person at a time—and they believe everyone has that same power. The domino effect of their impact resists measurement and so they render themselves unforgettable.
To find our Radiant Humans we asked the most amazing people we knew and met from Maine to California, “Who has personally empowered you the most in your life?” Each episode of the series will be dedicated to the life, philosophy, and impact of each one of the humans who were nominated. We found many patterns between the nominees, and will share our observations and experiences as we release each episode.
When I think about my experience meeting these individuals I get a little dopamine rush because I remember how loved and important I felt in their presence, and most people we interviewed about them feel the same way. I do want to emphasize that our Radiant Humans are not perfect. We don’t intend to claim they’ve transcended fear or that they don’t have moments driven by ego; in fact, our goal is to humanize the legends so that if you will do us the honor of watching our documentaries you will see that you can be a legend yourself.
You have that same power within you to create leaders all around you. Just think, if every single person simply took responsibility to create a space of love and connection around them this world would be undeniably peaceful and beautiful. We hope our work moves you to ask yourself: Who do I decide to be every day? Are my decisions based in love for others, or fear for myself? How do the people in my life experience me? What do I want for my life, and the lives of those around me? What kind of a woman or man could create that reality?
The work starts with you and me. We hope you’ll join us in “The Radiant Project,” and in the search for our most radiant selves.