Others and Your Purpose (A Personal Reflection on Pictures)

In 1563, Paolo Veronese painted The Wedding Feast at Cana. It depicts a famous Bible story in which Jesus performed a miracle at a wedding feast by turning water into wine. The painting is absolutely massive in scale. It measures 267 x 391 inches and is a brilliantly-painted late-Renaissance masterpiece. It is on display in the legendary Louvres in Paris.

The painting fills an entire wall. No other works sit beside it. The two walls flanking it contain paintings, but they might as well have been the watercolor finger paintings of a 5-year-old child. They pale in comparison to Veronese’s breathtaking picture. His painting is filled with color and light, ornate architecture and intricately detailed people. 130 figures grace the scene. The painting struck me dumb with awe. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have stood in front of it, transfixed, and been able to study it in person late one August afternoon. It is one of the most incredible works of art I have ever seen.

And you probably have never heard of it. To be honest, I’d never heard of it either until I stumbled upon it while on a pilgrimage of sorts.

You see, there is another notable painting in that particular room of the Louvre. It is displayed, all alone, on the wall opposite The Wedding Feast at Cana. It hangs in the middle of a wall and is encased in glass. A velvet rope and several museum employees ensure that the thick and perpetual crowd swirling in front of it maintain a respectable distance. The wall the painting hangs on is massive, making the entire display look almost ridiculous. However, it is the reason so many people pay the entrance fee to visit the Louvre. There are a handful of such iconic works at the Louvre, but none draw as many admirers as this portrait of a single, solitary figure. It is La Gioconda, better known as the Mona Lisa.

When, where, and how you display your picture makes all the difference in the world.

You are an artist just as surely as Leonardo da Vinci and Paolo Veronese. The story you tell throughout your life is akin to the portfolio of work that the master artists of the Renaissance left behind. Our stories are articulated in a series of pictures that we generate throughout our lives. We are at once artists building the portfolio and art historians curating a collection of inspiring and beautiful works. The gallery is yours to build. Showcase your works very carefully, very deliberately. Although, in scale, The Wedding Feast at Cana is a large envelope compared to the Mona Lisa as a stamp, there is no doubting which of the two represents a more powerful experience for visitors to the Louvre.

While Mike did not set up the perfect story, he told it in the perfect setting. Articulating your purpose and engaging others is all about displaying your art in just the right way.

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Reflections for Your Awareness (Fixing Your Network)

Only after your network is fixed can you go be the linchpin, the Great Connector, that you are meant to be. Once you fix your network, you can serve it and its members better.  Once you fix your network, you will realize that yours is just a small part of a much bigger, much more powerful network and that we are all servants of the same human collective.
-From post 6/30/2011 by Ric Gonzalez, Woo Woo Leadership

Fixing a network might simply be in creating a new understanding for:
… Why you make your connections
… What you do in your network
… How you serve your connections.

Why
Your unique purpose as a leader forms a thread of meaning from one connection to another. One by one, connections of meaning form the power of a network. The artful act of connecting forms a creative bounty of connections.

What
It is meant for you to draw from this creativity in the collective. I believe part of what Ric is telling us is that our service finds voice in our network. Confidently exercising your own voice builds trust in your network and frees the flow of your gift.

How
The gift of your art flows freely through a confident voice. Your voice empowers the no so often needed to keep you on the path of service. Your network benefits greatly from your living, flowing purpose. Voice resonates in purpose.

My colleague Keith knows that part of fixing a network is the confidence to say no. And while voice gives power to the often required no, it also speaks a confident ‘yes’ to the service of our gift.

Dangerous

The stream is beauty. The stream is a contributor and sustainer to surrounding beauty. The stream is peaceful. The stream, in following its intended purpose, gives peace to those who traverse its course. And the stream is treacherous. It is not treacherous from provocation by a storm, it is treacherous as it fulfills its purpose in spite of a storm.

Treacherousness in the stream is not an attitude, but a condition. It is a necessary condition to properly deal with the impact of a storm and dispense with the sudden volume of water now forced upon the mountain stream. Even though the stream stays focused on its purpose to flow in this condition, this condition is dangerous to the wader.

In the life of the stream beauty, peace, and danger cannot be separated. Each of these states, or conditions, work together in the stream’s story. As a wader, it is my responsibility to recognize the danger and my accountability is to behave accordingly.

The stream does not desire tragedy to be a part of its story, but embracing complexity, the stream accepts this as unavoidable. As a participant in the stream’s story, I take accountability to wade in a manner contributing to the joyful telling of the story.

Pool of Experience

The mountain stream is a special place for me. I catch more trout in the mountain rivers near my home, yet I find myself driving a bit farther to a favorite stream. It’s at a higher elevation and therefore sings louder.

Even when fishing the rivers, I find that I stay close to the breaking water not because there’s more fish, but because of the soul cleansing properties of the sound. The higher stream is simply more consistent with its melody.

So there I am, wading the rapids and stalking the plunge pools, carefully looking into the depths for content and opportunity. Sometimes I even purposefully put aside my reason for arriving at a particular pool and simply rest in its beauty – even choosing to make a photo versus a cast.