The Cathedral Effect


“A pile of rocks ceases to be a pile of rocks when gazed upon by someone who holds within them an image of a cathedral.”

                                                                   ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Within the pile of rocks of workplace disengagement, there is a spark of possibility that the cultural rubble we are standing in can be transformed into something new and altogether different. Through the work of storytelling, creating story structures, being a contribution, and doing your organizational and individual Essence, we can build a culture that is vibrant, alive, and thriving. We can cast aside the conventional wisdom that keeps us and our companies stuck in the outdated models of “just good enough” and “business as usual,” to create a future where work and life are a much more meaningful intertwined experience.

When we take these pieces of storytelling, creating story structures, being a contribution and doing your organizational and individual Essence, the Cathedral Effect is the result. Imagine Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” or Neil Armstrong’s trip to the moon—these were no doubt masterpieces but their effect was larger than a single project or a one-time undertaking. Their great works created a ripple of inspiration and changed how the surrounding culture viewed what was possible in life. The pile of rocks that is our disengaged culture ceases to be because you have gazed upon both people and place while holding within you the image of a cultural cathedral.


 Of Brick and Spirit

Work, dedication, and determination are all essential to building a structure that will take form and last. All the work that goes into designing and crafting a solid foundation, sturdy walls and stable ceiling for a cathedral is for an ultimate purpose that transcends utility. Step into the great Lincoln Cathedral in England and what you notice is not the nuts and bolts. You may not notice the painstaking architectural details, but you can’t escape the sense that you have stepped into something beyond the everyday. A captivated presence takes over and you are immersed in an experience that you can easily sense but can’t easily break down to its corresponding parts. You sense the sacred, the uplifting, just by being there.

The same holds true for your Cathedral Effect. Planning is involved. Work is involved. Effort and implementation are required. Yet, you know you have created your cultural masterpiece because you can feel it. You know the individual parts that make up your Cathedral Effect but the whole is more than the sum of its parts.  You have immersed yourself in a different culture altogether and you can sense that you are standing in a world of your own making, one that didn’t just come into existence haphazardly but that came as a result of your focused intention and action of putting the pieces of storytelling, story structures, being a contribution and doing your organizational and individual Essence together in a united tapestry. You have designed your cultural place to be an incubator of human potential, so that both individual and organization can reach their highest living expression. A Cathedral Effect is work; it is planning, it is effort, but above all, it is a cultural creation of both brick and spirit. This is the Cathedral Effect … and it is always within your reach.

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