This photo is taken inside City Hall in downtown San Francisco of the dome area seen from the ground floor gazing upward. Ken and I were there attending the wedding of my daughter, Ana Clare. Prior to the ceremony, my eye was initially drawn to the large marble carvings embedded in the walls of the rotunda surrounding the massive steps that ascended from the first floor to the second. The architectural design of this turn of the century building is breathtaking! However, after about fifteen minutes of taking in the grandeur of this interior space, my eyes lifted to the ceiling of the rotunda or dome. I was struck deeply with the emotions of awe and wonder as I took in the magnificence of the structure.
I began to imagine what was involved in the construction of this building and how long it took to complete such a dramatic undertaking. The original building was completed in 1899 after 27 years of planning and construction as part of the “City Beautiful” movement. Unfortunately, it was destroyed during the 1906 earthquake and re-opened in 1915 after the reconstruction efforts were completed. The architect for the renovation was Arthur Brown, Jr. who had been educated in Paris in the Beaux Arts tradition. Interestingly, the dome of the City Hall rotunda is the fifth largest is in the world. Prior to walking into the building recently, I had no awareness of its history and spectacular beauty. Since then, I have brought it up for reflection from my memory bank countless times. I am personally inspired by the creativity, ingenuity, and meticulous attention to detail that went into the finalization of this historic landmark. It is no wonder that throughout the day a succession of weddings are performed on the landing of the rotunda steps under this majestic dome of light.
When I further reflect on this dome, what comes up from within me are the expansive and powerful emotions of unconditional love, beauty and excellence, awe and wonder, longevity and endurance. Moreover, I want to stand in structures such as this one and feel my spirit uplifted by their very design. I hunger for people, places, and things that draw me into stretching to be the very best person that I can be. I contrast this pull toward greatness with an uninspired acceptance of mediocrity. I am aware that just this one building activated something unconsciously waiting to be ignited inside of me. Well, this is not just any building. It is one exceptional visionary building! My own inner visionary is waking up because of this encounter. It may sound weird, but it is true….
As part of my parallel process, I have been reading about “extreme positive deviance” that focuses on the achievement of extraordinary success well beyond the expectations of others. The focus of “extreme positive performance” pulls one out of the realm of mediocrity into the playing field of courage, creativity, abundance, risk-taking, innovation, generosity, vitality, flow and visionary thinking. Individuals willing to engage with life at this level have the ability to impact change both within themselves, within their intimate relationships, the organizations that they influence, and for society in general. Sound possible, why not? Concretely, this is the level at which Arthur Brown, Jr. (San Francisco City Hall architect) entered the playing field.
I would imagine that any one of you can come up with a list of 5-1o heroes or extraordinary human beings that have impacted your life. What if you decided yourself to become an embodied hero? What if you decided to kick your game up to the next level to that of extreme positive deviance?