Finesse is a term that can have different meanings depending on the context in which it is used. In general, finesse refers to a skillful or subtle handling of a situation, problem, or task. It implies a kind of sensitivity, refinement, and artistry in one's approach to life. There used to be an appreciation for the refinement and mystery to ways in which “art” is expressed. The art of medicine for instance or the art of life.
Finesse can be seen as a kind of mastery that involves not only intellectual or technical skill, but also emotional intelligence, intuition, and an appreciation for the subtleties and complexities of life. Like a union of opposites. Two approaches completely complimentary.
In our lives, finesse can manifest in different ways depending on the situation. For example, in interpersonal relationships, finesse might involve the ability to listen deeply, empathize with others, and communicate effectively. It might mean knowing when to speak and when to remain silent, when to offer support and when to give space. Think discernment, self and other awareness, and an ability to navigate space in time.
In professional settings, finesse might mean the ability to navigate complex social and political dynamics, to negotiate effectively, and to lead with integrity and empathy. It might involve the capacity to balance competing demands, to prioritize effectively, and to manage stress and uncertainty with resilience.
Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher, famously wrote about how we have lost the finesse in life. He argued that we have become so focused on rationality and reason that we have lost touch with our deepest meaning in life. Pascal believed that being in the experience, rather than just relying on left-brained research-based or scientific knowledge, was an essential part of understanding our existence.
You must feel it to heal it. How deep will you allow yourself to go? For within that depth is an abyss. An abyss of infinite awareness that will forever reveal and inform your life
This idea is further explored by Ian McGilchrist, a psychiatrist and philosopher, in his book "The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World." McGilchrist argues that our society has become too focused on left-brained thinking, which is based on categorization, analysis, and abstract reasoning. He believes that this has led us to lose touch with the right brain, which is responsible for our lived experience, our emotional intelligence, and our ability to connect with others.
In his book, McGilchrist writes, "The left hemisphere is relatively impoverished when it comes to the lived experience of the world, the experience that gives life meaning." He argues that our obsession with left-brained thinking has led us to forget about the importance of the right brain and its ability to understand the world through experience rather than just through analysis.
McGilchrist's ideas are supported by other thinkers in the field of psychology and philosophy. For example, the philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote about the importance of being in the world, rather than just observing it. He argued that we cannot truly understand the world unless we are fully engaged with it.
Similarly, the psychologist Carl Rogers believed that the most important aspect of therapy was the relationship between the therapist and the client. He believed that the therapist needed to be fully present and engaged with the client in order to help them.
Our evolving culture seems to have put more focus on a lack based mentality. Rather than time for the mystery and space for the intuitive we have handed our agency over to the institutions whom often tell us how and what to feel and think. The thing is…there are answers that reveal in this precious space. Beauty that arises from the mystery. And cultural healing that sprouts from have an open heart willing to share time for connection.
Fully being in the embodied experience is an essential part of our deepest meaning in life. A return to finesse that permits time and space for the mystery is critical for our culture to reconnect, cultivate space for growth, and continue to allow the beauty of the mystery to unfold all around us.