In case you are jumping into this for the first time, we have been exploring an inspirational saying by Minnesota and Canada Outward Bound founder Bob Pieh:
Be tough yet gentle, humble yet bold, swayed always by beauty and truth.
Swayed always by beauty and truth. These words are the true north of an Expeditionary Leader. They guide actions and provide the moral compass that lay at the heart of Outward Bound founder Kurt Hahn's philosophy.
Let me start out by clarifying what I am not referring to when looking at beauty. Our culture has objectified "beauty" around the physical characteristics of women, commercialized it and created a half a trillion dollar industry around its pursuit. We could engage (and perhaps we should) in a deep debate around the damage caused by focusing on physical appearance in our culture, but that is not the conversation of this particular post.
Beauty leads us toward the sacred. Look at church, synagogue and mosque architecture. The places we design in which to worship are created to evoke deep emotion in us. It is the same emotion we experience when we see beauty in the natural world. Why would we as a people spend money to create scenic views on the sides of roads but to appreciate the beauty of the natural world? Visit any western-facing ocean shore and you experience the reverent response to a sunset. Why? The Earth turns and the sun "sets" every day. And yet, people gravitate to the coast (and other places) to watch. Conversation wanes and eyes turn as the sky changes from blue to yellow to orange and red. Often you will hear applause and gasps when the final speck of the visible sun slips below the horizon. We stand in reverent awe of the beauty that has given us life.
Expeditionary Leaders are guided by that sacred sense of awe that surrounds us and is within us. As the mystic poet Rumi wrote, "Let the beauty we love be what we do." With the busyness of modern life it is easy to miss the miracle that is unfolding in every second of our lives. In all of history there has never been and there will never be another now. Nor will there be another you.
And truth--in this day of alternative facts and fake news, what is truth? We as a nation have become so polarized that it can feel difficult to find even a single point of "truth" to agree upon.
Expeditionary Leaders stand in a unique place. When we come together through shared adversity we find strength in our support of one another. On a wilderness expedition it doesn't matter what one's political affiliation is, whether they are male or female, gay or straight, light skinned or dark skinned. It is not our job to judge. What we do is build community, impel people to leave their comfort zones, and hold tight to our deep belief in the inherent goodness of people.
In the book The Four-fold Way, author and anthropologist Angeles Arrien identified four archetypes--the warrior, healer, visionary, and teacher. The way of the visionary is to tell the truth, without blame or judgment. Standing in that truth leads us to our own deepest calling. Our lives and our positive impact on the world become our truth.
To be "swayed always by beauty and truth" is to stand in your own power and to let your own goodness light a path in a troubled world. This is the true essence of an expeditionary leader.