Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Holy Grail

I love Monty Python. In fact, I relate most things to Monty. The Holy Grail is one of my all time favorites. It is hilarious. Killer rabbits. Coconut clanking sound effects to emulate the sound of horses. Maidens to be rescued. Knights riding fearlessly on in search of . . . a cup?

This makes me think. The holy grail can represent many things. A promotion. An opportunity. A chance to do something meaningful and incredible. A chance to be the leader. A chance to work with a great leader. A chance to be part of something great. A chance to be . . .

As the legend goes, the quest was given by God to King Arthur to find the Holy Grail that would heal the land and bring prosperity back to Camelot. This allegorical tale is one of journeymen, in search of something greater.

The Holy Grail is our quest as human beings. As human beings, we are naturally are able to see and feel the signs and signals that could lead to our destruction.We search for more than what we have, to move beyond where we are, to find a new reality. The trick is to realize that we never really get there, we just get to another place.

This points to a chink in the armour of humanity. As human beings, we are always in search of what is next but we often lack vision. We want that chance to hold the secret to the future in our hands but we often lack the patience to let it take shape. We want to be successful, but often we lack ccourage and conviction. We want the holy grail but we are often willing accept a plastic cup.

Searching for the holy grail is the work of nobility. But when was the last time you read a job description asking for nobility?

Nobility has eroded over time since the onset of the industrial revolution. Ruskin, a 19th century architect and social commentator penned the Stones of Venice, which I studied in University. As an architect, Ruskin described how the move to mechanization may have allowed things to be produced more cheaply and enmasse, but it sacrified individuality.

Ruskin illustrated his point by contrasting the noble and the ignoble in Gothic architecture.

Ruskin refers to the noble imagery of the gargoyles that were typical to buildings of the time. Pre - industrial revolution, they were hand chiseled, by artisans. Each one uniquely flawed. The pre-industrial gargoyles eyes looked to heavens, representing humility under creation.

The newly mass produced ignoble gargoyles were perfectly produced, each one the same as the last. Unlike their noble brothers, the post - industrial gargoyles looked down over man, as if representing superiority over creation.

In today's terms, if the Stones of Venice were a business book, Ruskin would be describing the loss of leadership and vision, and what happens when you sacrifice creativity and innovation for efficiency and speed.

He would have said that while an efficiency focus has short term merits, it is damaging over the long term, as it will rob our desire to be creative and innovative. Efficiency does not inspire people to come to work every day. Think about it. Who says, I can't wait to get to work today to be more efficient than I was yesterday.

Wouldn't you rather people came to work everyday saying, "Today I am going to build a new widget, or come up with a new idea for . . ."

But no. I don't alway see the business world thinking this way, and it scares me. It is recession inspiring, mind numbing, economy killing and spirit crushing.

The holy grail is not about effiency. The holy grail is about hope. It is about reinvention, and recreation. It is about building for tomorrow. Inspriration. It is about being a good leader and acting with integrity and care for others. In today's terms, to hold the holy grail in one's hands is to hold a future vision that will move "us" to a greater place of being.

But alas, the accountants are in control, and the poets and dreamers are on the outside looking in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for poets and dreamers...the accountants would have nothing to count :) As always your most brilliant posts come late at night.