Poetry is often the art of overhearing yourself say things you didn’t know you knew. It is a learned skill to force yourself to articulate your life, your present world or your possibilities for the future. -David Whyte
When I first read The Heart Aroused, by David Whyte, I melted into the book, relishing in the weaving of poetry with the context of corporate America. The verses David offered whispered to my own deepest yearnings for a more purpose-filled vocation, as a warm fire for the sometimes cold and impersonal landscape of the day to day grind.
Think about it; have you ever opened your team meeting with a reading from Beowulf to ignite new ideas by taking a journey to the deep waters of your soul? What might happen if you did? Perhaps you would experience a deeper sense of your work and a glimpse of alternative realities for consideration that push the edges of what’s possible for you and your team.
The fact is that the most compelling challenge we face in business across the globe is our ability to be creative enough to innovate ahead of our competition. And yet, we do not naturally see the fit of poetry and inspiring metaphor to stimulate our minds and tap our imaginative capacity in the boardroom, where our creative abilities are most needed.
Gregory Bateson, the eminent biologist and systems theorist, said, “Logic is a very elegant tool, but logic alone won’t quite do because that whole fabric of living things is not put together by logic. Metaphor is right at the bottom of being alive.”
The characteristics of the creative include curiosity, openness, dealing with paradox, sensuality and story-making. All of these qualities are ignited by poetry and metaphor.
In our work as positive change practitioners, we use the Poetic Principle of Appreciative Inquiry to ignite creativity and inspiration for a desired future. The Poetic principle recognizes that organizations, like poetry have many interpretations and can also, like poetic verse and imagery, connect us to the deepest parts of who we are and to what inspires our best work.
We create imagery that emerges out of the stories we share and that we listen to- stories that take us down a different pathway than a GANTT chart could ever do. The image that appears surprises us at times, revealing an underlying theme that lay lost amidst the complexities and routines that compete for attention and intention.
With the Poetic Principle, we awaken possibilities to inform a compelling organizational course, unmarked by distraction and solidified by story themes of what enlivens us and what calls to our positive core, individually and collectively.
An executive team crafted the HEART image above through dialogue and mining of themes around the call to action for a “We Culture”. The Poetic Principle was activated by their exploration of what influenced the times when they engaged in exceptional teamwork. We illustrate the Poetic Principle by the saying, “what you focus on grows”. Though their dialogue about successful collaboration, these executive discovered a new pathway “with heart” to amplify what they do well together and the behaviors that they will lean in to towards improved collaboration.
So let us continue to welcome the Poetic Principle into our boardrooms and executive suites, to stretch our thinking and help us to explore new and compelling paths as alternatives to our day to day ruts of inertia. The Poet in us offers wise counsel and a sweet tonic towards a refreshing dive into the waters of what really matters most in our life’s work.
Image courtesy of Melissa Askew, Unsplash.com