Rev. Casey Beaumier, S.J., director of the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies, said people’s leadership abilities will be determined by how they tell their stories.
“Narrative is very important in the way that we tell the story of our leadership and our experience,” Beaumier said. “And the beauty of the story that we tell is that it is dynamic, it can change over the course of time. How we frame that story makes all the difference about how we live, move and have our being.”
Beaumier’s keynote address kicked off the Office of Student Involvement’s Leadership Day 2021 on Feb. 13, during which speakers hosted presentations and workshops focused on giving students tools to improve their leadership skills.
After attending Beaumier’s talk, students split into sections by class year and listened to talks geared toward their stages in college. Later, students picked workshops to attend, where they discussed topics like managing stress, practicing inclusive leadership, leading teams, and resume building.
The unprecedented times of the past year can be narrated as a story of missed opportunities and failure, according to Beaumier. Some people, though, he said in reference students who were sent home last spring, can also use imagination to craft amazing possibilities for the future.
“My initial reaction when the students left in that awful weekend in March … was sadness,” Beaumier said. “I had to let that be real … But I had the capacity for simultaneity, so that while the grounding of the shutdown was very real, the vision of possibility and the openness to what could be were also very real.”
Beaumier said that grace, which he defined as the strengthening of the soul, is also important, as people can only be fully formed by exercising their exterior and interior senses in unison. By exercising spiritually, Beaumier said people can improve their knowledge of these senses.
“The best leaders have this capacity for exercising the interior senses while using the physical senses,” Beaumier said. “It’s not that we can do that all the time. Those are special moments when the hearing of the physical body and the hearing of the heart are in sync.”
Beaumier said grace also involves the ability to rejoice and spread happiness, using an example of the Christian belief of Jesus Christ’s resurrection.
“If we use the eyes of the heart to imagine Jesus taking that first breath or lifting himself up, pushing the stone out of the tomb that when he comes to life, his excitement and zeal will be so grand that it will have an effect upon us,” Beaumier said. “This is a grace that’s so catchy it’s transmitted from person to person: the capacity to be glad and rejoice intensely because of the great joy of another.”
Beaumier said great leaders have the ability not to be phony but to be sincere in their capacity to rejoice by anticipating while staying grounded in their reality.
Beaumier ended his talk with a discussion about emotions.
“No feeling is final—feelings come and go, so that you and I just become absolutely receptive,” Beaumier said. “That is a beautiful way to live. Everything I just said, I think, is a beautiful way to proceed.”
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor