Exploring Beauty – John O’Donohue

odonohue beauty

Yesterday I wrote: “CEO Pay and Ugly Leadership” in which I shared the words of Alan Moore:

“Beautiful Businesses Leaders respond to a higher order calling of service to a greater good. Their leadership is framed by values and informed by purpose.”

To act on that higher order calling part of that path is to know the difference between Beautiful Leadership and Ugly Leadership. To truly anchor to Beautiful Leadership it is is key simply to Explore Beauty for the beauty’s sake.

Today some of the beautiful thoughts and words of the late John O’Donahue, who truly dedicated his life to the exploration of beauty in thought and deed.

~ John O’Donohue ~

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
our eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you….


The poet wants to drink from the well of origin; to write the poem that has not yet been written. In order to enter this level of originality, the poet must reach beyond the chorus of chattering voices that people the surface of a culture. Furthermore, the poet must reach deeper inward; go deeper than the private hoard of voices down to the root-voice. It is here that individuality has the taste of danger, vitality and vulnerability. Here the creative has the necessity of inevitability; this is the threshold where imagination engages raw, unformed experience. This is the sense you have when you read a true poem. You know it could not be other than it is.
Its self and its form are one.

John O’Donohue dedicated his life to the exploration of beauty.

I encourage you, in your own exploration of beauty, to explore these two sources:

John O’Donohue on Beauty, Why We Fall in Love, and How the Life-Force of Desire Vitalizes Us

~ Maria Popova of Brainpickings

Maria’s usual deep dive with multiple links to the works of the author and other related writing and thinking to explore.


~ Alan Moore

Alan in his blog highlighting a wonderful interview by Krista Tippet of OnBeing with John O’Donahue shortly before he died. I listened to this with absorbed reverence, the words of O’Dohanue are so beautiful, as well as the thoughts he synthesises and muses on. A wonderful 52 minutes to spend exploring and immersed in beauty.

I spoke to Alan after listening to this and acknowledged him for having his own quite similar style of writing and expression around a subject he too is dedicated to. I’m privileged to be collaborating with Alan on developing the philosophy of #BeautifulLeadership into action.

Also published on Medium.

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