Begin with the beautiful, which leads you to the good, which leads you to the truth.Bishop Robert Barron
On the wall of my office are six large, framed, photographs of cathedrals we visited in France and Spain during our 500 mile walk along the Camino de Santiago. I chose these particular images for three reasons:
- To remind me of my need to keep my eyes focused Heavenward.
- To remind me of our amazing journey across the north of Spain.
- To remind me of the power of beauty to draw us in and capture our hearts.
In a world of reason and rationality, structures of that sort are unreasonable and irrational. The scale. The detail. The cost. Perhaps, even the spirituality. For our logical minds, they make little sense. Such structures are over-the-top in magnitude, inconceivably complex, and impractical. Yet, one is hard pressed to resist the draw of their beauty and artistry. Or, miss their intention.
Over the last 12 months, we’ve gotten really comfortable with Zoom calls, remote work, and a whole new world of human interaction. From a business perspective, many things have changed in our day-to-day interactions. I recently noticed that I receive frequent comments on my propensity to wear a suit and tie – even for Zoom calls.
I suppose in our casual, work-from-home world, my suit and tie may look to some like the archaic cathedrals of Europe: a bit anachronistic to the modernity of our day and age. However, like those cathedrals, I see it as indicative of putting our best foot forward and acknowledging that the moment or interaction is worthy of being our best.
We may embrace our rules and restrictions as the warm blankets of conformity but they do nothing to inspire us or capture our imagination. Our hearts soar with eye-grabbing vistas or the intricate detail of classic sculpture. We may know nothing of the complex arrangements of notes in a musical score but our imagination is captured in the orchestra’s stunning execution of that score. It is the beauty that moves us.
Leading with beauty is an effort to put our best before others. You may not like the color of my tie, the cut of my suit, or the formality of my look, however, you do know that I cared enough to try. Some may look at those cathedrals as cold, stony structures but the effort and magnitude cannot be denied. You may dislike opera but still have to acknowledge the sheer talent and otherworldliness of its performance. Beauty draws us in regardless.
Beauty in art or nature is easy to recognize. Where else might we lead with beauty? If leading with beauty is about bringing our best, the list of opportunities can get long:
- Lead with honesty.
- Lead with integrity.
- Lead with love.
- Lead with good intent for others.
- Lead with assuming good intent from others.
- Lead with courage.
- Lead with joy.
- Lead with faith.
- Lead with honor.
- Lead with friendship.
Others leading with such behavior as listed above are beautiful to behold. The beholder might find herself captivated by such beauty.
So often today, we lead with reason. Our structured minds prepare the argument in its cold, passionless clarity and foist it upon the other with calculated precision. Our logic is flawless. Our reason is clear. The rationality of our position is unassailable. Yet, others remain unmoved. Hearts don’t soar in our logically rational argument.
Though, such reason may help us capture someone in a courtroom, the approach often fails to draw them to something more. It rarely captures their heart.
Want to move anyone to something more? Lead with beauty. Want to capture someone’s heart? Lead with beauty. Want to draw someone’s eyes to the power of your story, message, or mission? Lead with beauty. Want to change the world? Lead with beauty. As you do so, remember what’s beautiful.
The goodness of courage, faith, integrity, honesty, good intent, best effort, and love are all beautiful. Such beauty doesn’t require the mastery of paintbrush, instrument, or song. However, it does require that we put down our logic and argument for a moment and allow room for something more. Here, we might begin to move others, and ourselves, in more meaningful ways.