Hidden poetry gem: using power of language for improving persuasion skills

rumi_poetry

Have you ever wondered how some people have like magical power to persuade others in their point of view, that they somehow win every argument?

It’s not they always have all the knowledge or the wittiest and most cunning answer. They say the right words in right moment. Not too much, not too less, but right words. It’s like they are carrying around some sort of charisma that is attractive and appealing to people, which for sure is a first step of getting someone on your side – they first have to notice you and what it is that you have to say.

I also think that we often underestimate and neglect the power of language. Spoken language, written language, body language – they all tell a specific story and influence what kind of impact in any given situation we will make. Language is what connects us but also the tool we can use to emphasize our differences, values and reasons – using the tone and voice, language can also dictate ‘the tempo and intensity’ of conversation.

To improve our persuasive skills our language needs to be memorable, distinct, inspiring and supportive. I’ve already written how poetry attributes to leadership, but there are additional benefits that I want to draw your attention to.

I do believe that in some form of another we are all born poets – as we all use, make and create language. The key point here is how we use our language and in what purposes we are putting it in. And this is where poetry brings so much beauty and creativity.

Spending time reading and writing poetry is like training, having an exercise of your brain mussels where you sharpen your senses and you learn to pay closer attention; you slow down fast-paced thoughts and you are reshaping your mind for finding greater meanings as your ability for deep listening grows. You become more aware of weaknesses and virtues of human kind and with that understating, your language reflects that. Great influencers are known for their ability to connect with people on many different levels and poetry acts as a bridge across those barriers – it becomes easier for you to accentuate your message and value.

But most importantly you see yourself and value yourself differently. You start to recognize the areas of language you can express with greater clarity:

  • you find the meaning in having more alternatives;
  • you find ways to communicate your cause more effectively, creatively like using metaphors and similes to explain your point view.

In any given conversation poetry can act as an ice-breaker to lessen the tension and approach the subject with more ease:

  • Using poetic language can instill courage in conversation which is a catalyst for implementing change.
  • In brainstorming sessions can open the doors to hidden creativity, which is essential to innovation.
  • Poetry and art, in general, appeal to senses – which makes us more perceptive to risk taking, but also to strategically value situation.

Poetry, like language is ever-evolving and different, as each time we can perceive it differently. So are we, ever-adapting, by having trust in the change and confidence in the present moment able to reconcile any contrast within ourselves and our authenticity  speakes for us – everyone around is already convinced.

Sometimes
if you move carefully
through the forest

breathing
like the ones
in the old stories

who could cross
a shimmering bed of dry leaves
without a sound,

you come
to a place
whose only task

is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests

conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
and

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

questions
that can make
or unmake
a life,

questions
that have patiently
waited for you,

questions
that have no right
to go away.

David Whyte


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How acquiring entrepreneurial mindset can make you more creative at work

dylan sherlock

Being entrepreneur is not easy. It might sound attractive, provocative – especially in the rising startup culture, but the risks, sacrifices, stress and uncertainties that entrepreneurs deal with every day leaves you with a kinda bitter-sweet taste in your mouth. Yet entrepreneurship and the experiences that entrepreneurs can offer is a learning path that we can encounter in many facets of our life. Even at your work place, where you have a boss, a coworkers, where you are dependable, have limited resources, deadlines and procedures you must follow – even then you can apply some of the  entrepreneurial principles, enrich your creativity  and become better employee: you can become an intrapreneur.

I’ve met many people who think they can work for themselves and finally be in control of their career. But sometimes they discover that entrepreneurship is the furthest thing from control in their life, because the realities of being an entrepreneur—the time investment, stress, and unexpected sacrifices—suddenly feels like an insurmountable task and not that much desired lifestyle. Then they become dissatisfied all over again, tired and experiencing crisis that is hard to overcome: instead of solving problems, new just start to generate.

Intrapreneurship borrows principles from entrepreneurship. In intrepreneurship you are developing whole new business and  products, while as an intrapreneur you are, within your organization, working on new programs, products, services mostly in a new, creative and innovative form. Working within limitations can actually boost your creativity while developing greater job satisfaction – having your own meaningful impact within your working environment.

An intrapreneurial approach to work can be for someone who wants to make a difference, use his talents, but within rather safe and predictable conditions without making too much risks and career changes.

So what can you actually do?

Be the one who delivers new ideas and solutions.

Get more educated and acquainted with the topic of the project you are working on; offer new ideas and guidance while discussing with your colleagues and co-workers; work on you presentation skills and search for new ways to employ your talents at work; become a source of knowledge and creativity; always have in mind that ‘bigger picture’ that goes beyond organizational policy and bureaucracy.

But be aware of one thing: find a right timing for showing your talents and learn to make suggestions diplomatically. You don’t want your co-workers to see you as a ‘threat’, someone who imposes himself all the time and who knows ‘everything’. If you do go overboard, you might end-up with too much work and with no support.

It does take courage and intuitive knowledge when is the right time to share your passion, talent and inventiveness, yet it’s a learning path, just like entrepreneurship is. It can help you overcome a stagnant feeling you might be holding towards your job and the growing you will experience is going to lead you to even better work and project opportunities.

I saw a Ruler take his stand
And trample on a mighty land;
The People crouched before his beck,
His iron heel was on their neck,
His name shone bright through blood and pain,
His sword flashed back their praise again.

I saw another Ruler rise–
His words were noble, good, and wise;
With the calm sceptre of his pen
He ruled the minds and thoughts of men;
Some scoffed, some praised–while many heard,
Only a few obeyed his word.

Another Ruler then I saw–
Love and sweet Pity were his law:
The greatest and the least had part
(Yet most the unhappy) in his heart–
The People, in a mighty band,
Rose up, and drove him from the land!

This is the poem by Adelaide Anne Procter: “The three rulers”. What I like about this poem is that in its own, intriguing way is telling the importance of innovative thinking, having our own voice that needs to be heard and understood. While reading the poem, we might think that only the sword matters, yet for collective success-it takes another two: noble, wise, love and sweet pity. Besides strength we need wisdom and empathy to make a our ‘business whole’: where we take into account our leaders, workers and customers.

While working on emphasizing and balancing these three qualities in our work we are bringing that needed change: a step towards betterment of our working lives that positively impacts others as well.


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Why people don’t like poetry?

shelley

This essay is inspired by some of the recent comments in this post. And it made me think: why  people really don’t like poetry? What is it that keeps them away from maybe not writing, but from reading some really exquisite pieces by poets from all around the world?

The usual answer is something like “Poetry is boring”, “I don’t understand it”, “It’s a waste of time”. So I wanted to explore this topic a bit further.

If we look more deeply around us, we can notice that people have very little time to appreciate art in general. This fast paced, consumer oriented society has trained us to want everything now and here. An instant satisfaction, an instant thrill, an instant experience: not allowing our biological system to perceive with all its senses; truly absorb our emotions and simply feel.

Life usually demands of us high level of practicality, logical and factual thinking in order for us to be functional and productive on a day to day basis. It’s very noticeable in how we are doing business and science. But where are the boundaries? Have we lost our human touch? In our lives when everything is so exact and explicit we have erased some of the basic human traits: ability to feel and empathize. We cannot treat our most intimate relationships, families and ourselves like we are on a business meeting and signing a business contract.

And there is this soft spot where poetry likes to ‘poke’ you. It demands something different from you. It demands your whole being to respond: if you try logically to analyze a poem, it will take you nowhere; if you search for shortcuts, you will be lost; if you need answers, probably you will be disappointed.

A poem is a journey that allows you to escape from typical factual thinking and forces you to question everything: instead of searching for answers on the outside, you need to look deep inside of you.

There lies the true value of poetry – especially for business leaders, as it can be seen as an antidote to typical business interpretations:

  • poem is associative rather than factual thinking;
  • poem enforces abstract thinking in comparison to deductive thinking.

Like Clare Morgan implies in “What poetry brings to business”:

reading poetry generates conceptual spaces that maybe different from the spaces usually approached in business and life in general.

As poetry is letting yourself to get familiar with the unknown – it shouldn’t instill fear of ambiguity and uncertainty, but rather to be seen as a vehicle, attractive mystical longing that can transcend us across those conceptual spaces and offer different modes of interpretation: a sure way to enrich our creativity in all aspects of our lives.

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Billy Collins


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Restorative power of poetry: remembering your own truth

Hildegard_hero

We can find many connections between poetry and its transformative influence on human lives – especially its healing power. Going back as far as mythology takes us, it is very well known fact that the Greek God Apollo, the son of Zeus and Titan Leto, was the God of music, poetry but also the God of healing, transferring the knowledge of medicine to humans and the God of truth.

In Chinese language, for instance the word poem is comprised of two characters  – one meaning word, the other meaning temple. So poem is something that is sacred, the ultimate truth.

In many indigenous cultures, illness is viewed as a state in which an individual is distancing himself from his true nature – both physically and emotionally. If we observe a healing as a process coming back to harmony, to wholeness, poetry can be seen as a healing tool, with a restorative component.

Traditional worship practices in many tribal structures are gatherings, accompanied with dance, rhythm, songs and trance. Sacred narratives and beliefs are deeply based in Nature and are rich with the symbolism of seasons, weather, plants, animals, earth, water, sky and fire. The mode of prayer, a poetic narrative is seen as coming back to Nature, reinforcing the feelings of love and acceptance.

Many poets, emerging in our newer history were trained physicians: John Keats, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. and William Carlos Williams  who wrote:

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.        

Today, poetry is accepted as a proven healing method and there are many associations that train and accredit poetry therapists. In particular, the American Poetry Therapy Association has approach that they use a set of poems that their patients discuss and then those poems become a model — even a template — for individuals to write their own poems.

Poet, author and retired university professor David B. Axelrod further notes:

The process helps people get their feelings out and into words. Generally, I don’t worry about the form the writing takes at the outset. I will help someone find the poem within the words they first write. Whatever the methodology, yes, poetry, and story writing, can be a healthy outlet. The results of poetry therapy, if not forced into any specific form, can also trigger marvelously original creations.

No matter which poetry you prefer: spiritual words by Rumi, mythological expression of W. B. Yeats or modern linguistic experimentation of E. E. Cummings, words can pave a path to your own wisdom; help you find that missing puzzle inside that you need to feel whole again and hear your wakeup call for inspired action in the world.

When I am asked

how I began writing poems,

I talk about the indifference of nature.

It was soon after my mother died,

a brilliant June day,

everything blooming.

I sat on a gray stone bench

in a lovingly planted garden,

but the day lilies were as deaf

as the ears of drunken sleepers

and the roses curved inward.

Nothing was black or broken

and not a leaf fell

and the sun blared endless commercials

for summer holidays.

I sat on a gray stone bench

ringed with the ingenue faces

of pink and white impatiens

and placed my grief

in the mouth of language,

the only thing that would grieve with me.

Lisel Mueller

3 reasons why you should have a purpose statement

TODAY -- Pictured: Dan Brown appears on NBC News' "Today" show (Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

We are much familiar with mission and vision statements that companies develop in order to communicate their business much clearer to customers and business associates.

Now, I will not go here in detail what mission and vision statements are, but if you think more clearly, we all as individuals “project” ourselves and with our behavior, actions, language (both verbal and body) we communicate who we are. In one of my recent posts I suggested that we should revisit our core beliefs from time to time, as they change with our maturity and conditions around us. This time I propose, just as your business or company can have mission and vision statement, for you to develop your own purpose statement. I believe, by developing our own purpose statement (that encompasses both your mission and vision in life) we can:

  • become more effective; it helps keeping you on track with your goals and plans;
  • develop personal leadership; by referring to it and internalizing its meaning, we make choices that serve our values and discard the things that contradict them.
  • stay motivated to achieve our goals.

In this post, I talked about thinking in reverse,  which literally means having the end goal in mind: what do you want to achieve, in what sense do you want to contribute, what are your values and how your goals you want to achieve align with your values…all that in sum, represents your purpose.

By looking in front of us, that kind of thinking becomes more powerful, more influential in any further decision-making than by being chained by baggage of the past that doesn’t help us.

There is something powerful about writing these things down. And I mean writing by hand on paper: it’s like you are breathing life in those words, you are declaring what you want, who you are and everything becomes more real, and more probable to happen.

I don’t think it should follow any specific format or length, but it has to be relevant to you, to be your motivation in further life decisions.

Some ideas how to start:

  • Write about the project you’ll have in near future and think of outcomes you wish to achieve; what steps you can apply to get you closer to completing a successful project?
  • Collect all the notes, pictures, quotes, poems that inspire you, that you identify with and let that be your guidance in developing your purpose statement.

Of course, there is a flip side that we should all be aware of: life has unfortunately that ugly side of face – frustration, full of trials and errors when is so easy just to give up. For a real passionate purpose you are ready to work hard and endure long enough to get where you want to be. It’s like drudging through the drudgery as writer Joshua Fields Millburn refers to it.  It is part of the process and your purpose statement is there to remind you who you are and who you want to become.

Look at developing your purpose statement as a journey to self-discovery. Nobody can and no one expects from you to have figured all out at once, but it’s a step forward. Purpose can change and evolve with you, or you can have multiple purposes. And why not, as long as they don’t contradict your core values?

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children’s faces looking up,
Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like the curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit’s still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.

Sara Teasdale

You need these 6 skills to improve your strategic thinking

miyamoto-musashi-

On a few occasions, I have already written about the strategic thinking and the impact it can have in our everyday life. Today I will try in more detail to break down, which are the skills that comprise strategic thinking. In my own experience I focus on implementing certain steps in my analysis of situation before I make any decision or take a stand in dealing with a problem. These steps can help us work on certain skills that in the long run can improve our strategic thinking and the ability of decision making.

  1. The foremost critical skill I identified to think strategically is to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. That includes both business and personal goals with sharp focus on what you really want. I would say that this is a prerequisite in almost any life situation because unclear motivation opens door to insecurity, fear of failure and at the end it leads to indecisiveness.
  1. The second skill I like to call is thinking in reverse. What I mean by that is once you have the end goal in mind it’s easier to design actionable tasks and objectives that will structure your strategic approach. Each objective needs to have a timeline for execution as well defined needed resources. In business situations is not an uncommon thing to have even different scenarios brainstormed, according to the variability of conditions and environment where by tackling the problem from different angles, we are still able to achieve desired goal.
  1. Being able to achieve desired milestones a strategic thinkers need to have a high level of responsiveness and adaptability. It requires just letting enough room for flexibility into their plans, where they can review progress and revise the course of action once the conditions change. It’s somehow an innate ability to be proactive and allow intuition to be receptive to anticipate change – which is better approach then responding to change once it occurs. They listen, observe, interact with their environment in such manner that they identify subtle signals that raises the awareness and helps in tailoring the best solutions to a given problem.
  1. They are lifelong learners, oriented towards growth and are never afraid to ask questions. One of the drivers in developing a better strategic thinking is the desire for new experiences and trying something new. For them is never too late to learn a new language, dance or ride a horse! This avid hunger for life enables them to think better on strategic issues.
  1. They measure 3 times before they cut. What I mean by that is that the creative part they have, they don’t shut down because some solution is ‘too risky’, ‘too costly’, but rather they have a specific notion how to balance out the surges of creativity with a sense of what is achievable and what will bring the greatest benefit in the long run. It’s a sort of cautious optimism entwined with honest desire to make the best of what’s given to them.
  1. They make room for ‘me’ time. The best and greatest strategic thinkers take time out for themselves: To relax, to release any tension in their body, to slow down their fast pace thoughts. It allows them to find inner stability and prepare for future tasks.

We can work on improving our skills by challenging our conventional thinking patterns, brainstorm different scenarios for a given a problem and recognizing weaknesses and strengths of any situation or business condition.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

This poem by Robert Frost is an excellent example on how we make our choices in life. What variables are the most important in our question to which direction to turn? This poem stimulates constant reexamination of situation, “measuring before cutting” and instinctively is actually ‘training’ us to think more strategically.

While reading poetry you are challenging your thinking on more subtle levels. That kind of stimulation empowers both ability of visualization and gaining clarity which is vital in strategic thinking.

4 qualities of thought leaders and how to become one

thoughtleadership

We all want to become more influential, persuasive in what we do. It’s of vital importance, being you a writer, small business owner or just an employee in the company. Getting our message across, being understood and perceived in the right way is how new, creative bonds are built in relationships – especially the business ones.

What being a thought leader is about anyway? Many people relate that term only to marketing and ways how to monetize “masterpiece” thinking, which opens the door to the new markets and new sources of income. That is the end-result of good directed and implemented thought leadership, but before that in order to become more influential you need to offer a sort of purposeful contribution that your audience and clients can actually benefit from. It’s a well developed internal strategy, wrapped in the perceptive cultural approach.

There are 4 qualities that are a common denominator among successful thought leaders:

1.They bring innovative thinking.

Especially entrepreneurs and people “zooming outside of the box” – they question everything and don’t take anything for granted. Sure, sometimes they don’t succeed at once –still, they move, shake, disrupt, and build paths through unexplored industrial jungles.

2.They are the brand.

Sharp and focused branding behind their persona is another ingredient in their leadership recipe. They are not afraid to begin, all over again – from zero, building something worthwhile, aligned with their personal values.

3.They are strategic thinkers and engaging storytellers.

Not only that they have well structured strategy around their message, they know how to convey it in a form of engaging and moving stories – stories that relate to our human side, experience and position in the world, which lead us to the final trait:

4.Thought leaders are empathetic.

Often, thought leaders draw their own life energy from struggles and suffering they went through themselves, which give them the opportunity to better understand the social needs. There, they see the chance to disperse their message and they are heartfelt, generous with their time, talents, money. Think of Richard Branson or Deepak Chopra for example.

In some of my previous posts I extensively wrote about the benefits of poetry in developing leadership qualities. It is that magic bond that allows of incomprehensible to be understood, unsaid to be heard, complex to be simplified to the tiniest pieces.

We are all thought leaders, once we decide to be.

It is not the Critic That Counts by Theodore Roosevelt

It’s not the critic who counts,

not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled,

or when the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena;

whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly;

who errs and comes short again and again;

who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement;

and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,

so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid

souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

 

 

 

 

Systems thinking as a holistic approach to entrepreneurship

Harman

To better understand social systems, thinking from a system perspective allows us to see and recognize interactions between system elements. Systems thinking takes into account larger number of interactions as an issue being studied and therefore results in greater number of conclusions than those delivered by other forms of analysis. It’s quite an effective approach and it can be applied to any type of system, being that business or your life in general. Now, I would go even broader in my definition: successful entrepreneurs have the ability to perceive the world as a system.

Why is that important?

As Michael Gerber states in his article Systems thinking:

Your business should be systems-dependent, not people-dependent.

With no systems in place, your business depends on you and on a few people who run things for you. If you or they disappear, even for a short time, your business is thrown into chaos. But if you have the right systems in place, the systems run your business, and nearly anyone can run the systems. You can decide suddenly to take a three-month holiday and your business won’t skip a beat. Your key employees could quit, and you could replace them easily with no ill effect.

This type of thinking is like taking precaution measures: as you start your own business, with systems thinking approach you are establishing right connections between the elements of your business, allowing for business to become adaptive, responsive – you are able to manage better any change.

But I would go even step further: a real systems thinking approach is a crucial step to becoming a holistic entrepreneur. Not only when the elements of the business system are beautifully interrelated but when your business is aligned with your values, your passion, your whole outlook on the world. There is no separation between your life, work and spirituality – it’s a system that like a hologram reflects in its tiniest atom who you are. You recognize the purpose in everything and your business and life is the realization of that purpose.

To truly think and operate your life and business in such way takes time and practice. We have to work on ourselves every day to improve our habits and how we respond to everyday challenges. I see poetry as a shortcut on this journey. Poetry can be that sixth sense that most of us lack, as it translates hidden agendas and prepare us for new experiences. It disintegrates the complexity of the world around us – opening our eyes for new possibilities and making new thoughts easier to digest. Poets are true systems thinkers: with each poem we read, even for that shortest moment, we take on the world as they contemplate it to a higher level of comprehension.

Life’s Meaning by Fra Giovanni Giocondo

Life is so full of meaning and purpose,

so full of beauty beneath its covering,

that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.

Courage then to claim it; that is all!

But courage you have, and the knowledge

that we are pilgrims together,

wending through unknown country home.

 

Why self-help books will not help you to move ahead with your business

thoreau

About 10 years ago I was in a sort of a turning point in my life, when I decided to radically change the course of my professional orientation – from geology and natural sciences I swam into managerial waters. Somehow my easy-going, free research spirit started to be molded by managerial principles, business rules and ext. I was still involved with natural sciences, but on the other side of fence: instead of exploring I was learning how to manage resources and it included entirely different way of thinking… and enjoying company of different people.

My business school professors and colleagues had a list of books that if you want to survive in the business world is a MUST read. Some of them included famous Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. As much as I agree and wholeheartedly advocate the habit of positive thinking, I do find that these type of books have a certain limitations if you try to live by their implied rules and suggestions.

The real world does not operate as the self-help gurus would want you to believe. Focus on consumption, consumerism, acquiring more of material stuff, while neglecting spiritual and purposeful side of our existing in the world is only contributing to already soulless corporate system. We all want to be better than we are or used to be, but instead of money and material wealth to be our measure of success, we should focus on contribution, value, integrity and sharing.

To really live is to experience life in all its manifestations, but that’s not the obstacle to live in the state of love, empathy and caring. My reading list of books to help you move ahead is accordingly a little bit different.

I would recommend:

Walden by Henry Thoreau, which takes you on the journey of discovering real treasurers in life. It helped me to appreciate more life and enjoy the gifts we all have.

The second one is the Wendell Berry’s Collected Poems: 1957-1982. In one of his poems he writes:

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Metaphorically speaking, poet encourages us to seek the meaning in things like family and spirituality, to look deep inside ourselves in order to find peace and harmony. In his poems, every word is entwined with love for nature and community and he writes with such sureness and agility, that is so easy to absorb any of his thoughts. It’s a great reminder that how we integrate ourselves in the world around us, what are our core beliefs and purpose is the measure of success. Finding purpose everyday in your life is your shortcut to success.