I see our time, with all its fast changes, as finally the opportunity to re-humanise business. It almost seems a paradox while talking about virtual reality, AI and robotics. The choice is totally up to us. We can continue to focus on just the “doing” or embrace our “being”.
It is about time we bring forth our “being” and lead from it.
Fromm said: “The development of man's intellectual capacities has far outstripped the development of his emotions. Man's brain lives in the twentieth century; the heart of most men lives still in the Stone Age.”
Our current business model was designed to respond to the struggles of famine, world wars and hence we all focused on productivity, efficiency, optimisation, maybe we wrongly believed we could “optimise” humanity too.
I am not extraneous to such belief system, I grew up surrounded by a narrative of art not being a real job. In order to fit in this widely accepted narrative I dropped writing and drawing. I dropped the creative feminine energy within me. I became a perfectionist hyper-achiever and got a PhD in chemistry.
Then, several years down the road of my corporate career, I started exploring a question, that reshaped not only my career but my life too: “Can I, you, we transform business through heart?” (read more on my personal story here).
Times are now mature to embrace our more artistic, creative, intuitive, humane side. It is central to the future of business and to the future of our wounded humanity. I often say: “I became a scientist because I wanted to cure people and I wrote poetry to heal myself.”
As a business heartist (as I like to call myself) my poetry is offered as an invitation to heal the world of business. The blind and fierce rational power that corporate imposes on us is inhuman. Poetry invites us to dwell out of isolation and at the intersection between body, emotion, mind, experience, culture, history… Poetry demands to our soul to step into the wholeness of seeing and feeling and, in so doing, restore wellbeing. It offers us the opportunity to re-affirm our whole humanity and re-awaken our inner wisdom.
I have said several times that this is not a path of artists borrowed to business to deliver inspiration or business executives borrowed to art to deliver processes. It’s the path of business heartists working at the intersection of physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual realms. If we want to change the course business has taken we must enter the intersection (of rational and emotional, creative and logic, scientific and humanistic…) and apprehend the literacy to express it.
If you are thinking you are not an artist nor a poet, I would like to invite you to experiment with me: pick randomly 5 words (ask your kids 5 words; open a book and pick 5 words; listen to the news and pick 5 words) play with their rhythm writing down a lyric. No thinking nor logic, just put the pen down and play with them rhythmically (if it helps have some instrumental music playing in the background to give you a sense of rhythm). Do not spend more than 10 minutes writing your lyric, just make sure you do not edit yourself. Once you have done writing it read it out loud to yourself.
Allow the rhythm to wash over you, noticing the sensations that arise within. Detach from any particular outcome and simply play with the experience.
Feel the beat of words merging into the multitude of beats that make the whole lyric.
One of my clients has established this as a practice for her commuting time. Everyday, she spends 15 minutes on her train ride to write lyrics in this way. She picks words randomly by a newspaper or words she hears other passengers saying and then she sets an alarm for herself so not to be distracted or worry about missing her stop. This practice has enabled her to calm her mind and her spirit before and after fully packed days in the office. She has benefited from this contemplative art so much that now, all her staff meetings start with a 5 minutes poem team creation. The capacity of her team to listen deeply and truly seek to understand has dramatically increased. It has helped them to reduce conflicts within the team and gave them a more creative way to re-solve tensions.
Poetry, isn't about quick solutions. It gets us to question assumptions, it liberates from the old and leads to innovation. It isn't bounded to deductive capacity, it is more an associative capacity which frees us up from the predictability of everyday logic. It calls for associations that evoke images and generate ideas rather than a pursuit of proofs. A poem allows us to become more flexible in picking up nuances and postpone closure, moving away from the either/or approach toward the both/and.
In business we are constantly pressured to make decisions and provide evidences, proofs, logic, we urge for hard data to back us up. A poem instead opens up a space for contemplation around alternatives.
“Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.” Novalis
Novalis warns us of the risks of narrowing and reducing a person to only body or to only mind—the fallacy, on one side, of believing a person can ever be merely a body or merely a “means of production” and the equal fallacy, on the other, of disembodiment, which reduces us to abstractions, ideologies, and labels.
Another of my clients has started using poetry in interviews replacing the “old” case studies they used to screen candidates. Both interviewer and interviewed, together or separately, are asked to write a poem, using some techniques I taught to them, to resolve and reconcile those seemingly paradoxes, complexities and tensions we constantly face in business (as in life).
For me, it is like being back in the chemistry lab, of my younger age, observing how the elements interact with each other, influencing the environment around them and patiently waiting for the reaction to unfold into a new molecule.
The chemist and the poet within me know and have experienced the power of living and working at the intersection of arts, fields, experiences; the most difficult of alchemy to realise.
It’s at the intersection that we find wholeness and from there we can transform and create new paradigms.
Let’s explore it with a poem “Sitting at the intersection” from The Whisper
Sitting at the intersection
I sit at the intersection
The intersection of who I am and what I do
The intersection of a DNA given to me
The intersection of finding identity in the integration of all the parts I am composed by
The Whisper is the call to continue sitting in that space
The space between the spirit and the matter
In this space I get the chance to touch
And be touched
I discover it through an untouchable me
The one who hides for fear
I disappeared in that untouched me
The Whisper came
To stop tomorrows
And work with what I have
In that intimate space the work started
The work of making the intersection
Between light and shadows
Which intersection do you need to explore to become whole? Make some art out of this intersection for a new way of working.
RNEWB offers a robust diversity of experiences, talks, workshops and programs that use storytelling, poetry and heARTistry in an innovative and yet practical methodology that has helped leaders and teams to reach their goals, tap into their creativity, broaden their awareness and improve trust within the organisations they lead. For more information please feel free to get in contact.