Dangerously Beautiful

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A few weeks ago, my post Lead with Beauty, talked about the power of beauty to engage others with the irrational, the magical, and the heart-touching. It struck a chord with some of you.

The theme returned this week in a call with our design team as we were discussing a software project. The purpose of the meeting was to debrief our team on some internal interviews relative to functionality and intended users. Toward the end of the briefing, the research lead used the words “dangerous” and “beautiful” to summarize the ethos of the project and its objectives.

Her insightful characterization captured my imagination and I haven’t been able to get those two words out of my mind. Dangerous. Beautiful.

On the surface, the combination suggests a dichotomy as one might consider something dangerous as “bad” and something beautiful as “good.” Good beauty isn’t dangerous, right? Digging deeper, we might think of mythical stories like Home’s Odyssey in which Odysseus avoids the danger of the Sirens’ beautiful song by putting wax in his sailor’s ears.

A beauty that draws us into a trap or lulls us into oblivion would certainly be dangerous in negative way. What about the beauty of Galadriel, the elf-queen from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series? Her beauty was described as pure and radiant even as she wielded tremendous power; power that would surely be a threat to those who might bring the dark and impure. My grandson, Cooper, loves to hear about Amazon warriors: noble, fierce, beautiful. And dangerous.

A book that I like to revisit for jolting inspiration is The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone. It is cover-to-cover energy and challenge to status quo thinking and anything else that holds us back from achievement. Toward the end of the book, Cardone gives a list of 25 traits of the successful. Number 9 is “Be Dangerous.” His point: shake it up. Be a bit unpredictable. Be surprising. Do the unexpected.

We live in a world that expects compliance. We spend lots of time complying, verifying that we are complying, and anticipating where we have a risk of not complying. This is the world of the expected, the predictable, and the safe.

All of which is perfectly fine. We should work to mitigate risk and meet legal requirements. There can be much goodness, and necessity, in following the rules.

However, we don’t advance in compliance. We don’t create in compliance. We don’t grow, improve, or innovate in compliance. Striving for safety doesn’t foster world changing ideas, life-altering discoveries, or solve the biggest problems facing us as individuals, organizations, communities, or nations.

To be dangerously beautiful is to draw others in and lead them somewhere new. in the elegance, symmetry, and color of the beautiful, we find enjoyment for its own sake. It can be an end unto itself. We make it dangerous when it calls us to something more, points to somewhere new, or challenges us to change from the safe of the known.

The dangerously beautiful forces a choice in surprising us with the unexpected: will we follow that call to the possible, the different, and the life-altering? Will we see old problems in new ways, with new answers, and new approaches? Or will we fear that it’s only a siren call meant to lure and entrap us?

Considering the summation provided in our debrief last week, I smile as I consider what it means for us to be dangerously beautiful in our efforts to change hearts, minds, and outcomes. Thinking of the words “dangerous” and “beautiful,” I know that our design team understands our vision. It is a worthy objective.

The sun now rises on a new day, itself dangerous and beautiful. Will you walk forth today drawing others to you in the beauty of your words, actions, smile, song, or the sparkle in your eyes? Will you be dangerous in calling them to something more, leading them somewhere new, or suggesting something beyond what they see today?

Now, that would be dangerously beautiful.

  • Brady

    This is fantastic, Phil. Great message – and also great to see your approach on the product front.

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