In the first part of this blog post I shared a poem of a young entrepreneur where he reveals his emotions, struggles and needs when it comes to entrepreneurship and for every wannabe entrepreneur out there, was a quiet a taste for “try walking in my shoes”.
But what about the feelings and emotions when our environment expects us to be or do something that is not our ambition, our passion? How to deal with difficult situations that arise when we cannot follow someone else’s dreams; when we need to tell our story, follow our own path? The poem “To my Father’s business” by Kenneth Koch
It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head — it is the unique intersection of both.”
~ David Caruso
While doing research for my next blog post I came across very interesting article “Poetry as a way of knowing” which was actually an introduction to a podcasts at Philosopher’s corner.
In this article Laura Maguire, proposes 3 types of knowledge: having practical knowledge which is “roughly defined as knowledge that does and shall (from a normative, prudential or moral, point of view) motivate to act in a certain way” (as described in paper What is Practical Knowledge?), and mostly is reflected in skills we have to do certain things; then, there is propositional knowledge which is a form of descriptive knowledge and mostly reflected in scientific approach where we collect facts to describe and explain the world around us (where in my previous post I went in depth what are the similarities and differences between science and poetry).
But before going to elaborate the third type of knowledge, not everything is black and white when it comes to first two types. As author Laura Maguire argues:
When you study poetry. presumably you develop many skills, like learning how to interpret a poem, which involves other skills, like how to identify and understand metaphor, how to measure meter, and so on.And maybe if you read a lot of poetry you also develop another skill, namely how to write poetry. So, in that sense, it’s easy to see how poetry could be a way of knowing.
And also through series of my posts I tried to elaborate the benefits of writing and reading poetry for the sake of developing other practical skills – crucial for our self-development. But today I would like to talk more about phenomenal type of knowledge as author Laura Maguire described it and how is that beneficial for our business undertakings.
Phenomenal knowledge is mostly related to knowledge of what is like to have a particular kind of experience. Can we learn form that? In other words, when it comes to business, can we get an insight what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, being self-reliant and building good communication with customers, for example? Can it really enhance our emotional intelligence, in general?
A poem “Love My Startup More Than You” by Rizwan Virk I found on the zenentreprenur blog and goes like this:
Cindy Lu, Cindy Lu
You know that my heart is true
But my Idea is very new
And we’ll make a million dollars
If only I can prove
That the market is true!
Cindy Lu Cindy Lu
Soon I’ll be home
And put my arms around you
I’m being shown
Design specs I must review!
The beta downloads are a jumping
But so are the bugs that need a thumping!
Please let me know
When the baby is asleep
Then I can show
You how we’ll avoid feature creep!
Towards you my sweetheart I’ll always feel
A never ending attraction
But right now what I really need to show
Is more customer traction!
Cindy Lu, Cindy Lu
Don’t look at me that way,
You’ll worry yourself blue!
Once we raise our series A
Our mortgage will be easy to pay!
And if the company gets in a bind,
My investors will help me find
Some folks that are keen
To assemble a management team
And we’ll be on our way
To making lots of green!
So please don’t think that I’m mean
When I say:
Cindy Lu, Cindy Lu
You know my heart is true,
But just right now,
I love my startup
More than you!
This poem is a sort of an ode to all young and ambitional entrepreneurs in the Sillicon Valey. Virk firmly believes that poetry is a great medium for expression of entrepreneurial ideas, ups and downs that entrepreneurship brings and how it changes life. A poem is instinct with love, confusion, desire for stability and how someone is ready to “put on hold” all of his relationships- because business is the only thing that matter.
I would say that poetry is a source of knowledge and as we can learn a lot about love, death and sorrow in poetry as emotions we can learn a lot about entrepreneurial emotions too: get that practical insight of what it means to be an entrepreneur, along with all victories and sacrifices it requires.
It can help us with our doubts, fears, uncertain decision making, but most importantly it can open new windows of creative sources that are aligned with our values – making us emotionally mature and persistent in our endeavors.
Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.
~ Vera Nazarian
It’s interesting to note that many of the great contemporary 20th century poets were business professionals,. For example T.S. Eliot worked for Lloyds of London, and Wallace Stevens was a vice president at an insurance company.
Also, James Dickey that worked in advertising, left his mark in the corporate world. So, it’s evident that business somehow has shaped and influenced last century poetry. What we often forget is how reading the verse of aforementioned professionals can enhance our own business qualities and can contribute to our well-being and self-development.
In one article of New York Times, C.E.O. Libraries Reveal Keys to Success
Sidney Harman, founder of Harman Industries says:
I used to tell my senior staff to get me poets as managers. Poets are our original systems thinkers. They look at our most complex environments and they reduce the complexity to something they begin to understand.
Unfortunately, business people are reading nowadays far more less. Life is running at such pace that reading material unrelated to business is almost impossible. The digital world is shortening our attention span and our patience to read and contemplate some abstract thought is almost nonexistent. But wide scope of reading is often a remarkable characteristic of many leaders and can initiate innovation, empathy, deeper understanding.
And how that relates to lean leadership?
An “old school” of leadership promotes the form of leadership where the notion is that leader holds the key of every knowledge and “his way of doing things” is the only way.
On the other hand, “empowering leadership” follows the crowd, doesn’t pay much attention to the rules and implies “let’s do it your way”. It’s true it can generate many innovative ideas, yet sometimes it leads to chaos and lack of responsibility.
And “lean leadership” allows for spontaneous solution to appear while focus is not that much on the leader as much on “let’s figure this out – together”.
For a successful lean leader is important to develop social skills, foster encouragement and compassion. Lean leader is able to seize the meaning and purpose in dynamic and at surface unrelated events.
Research findings, published in the paper Does reading make you smarter? Literacy and the development of verbal intelligence, suggest that reading makes you smarter through
a larger vocabulary and more world knowledge in addition to the abstract reasoning skills.
It can enhance leader’s efficacy through improved vocabulary intelligence that comes from reading more abstract topics and genres.
So, every day try to incorporate reading some poetry in your hectic schedule, join a reading club or attend some poetry evenings – and watch your business skills improve for the better.
Tenacious Persistence by Orison Swett Marden
The force that is going to carry you to your goal,
Is coiled up inside of you , in your energy, your pluck, your grit,
Your originality, your character, and your possession of a strong,
Persistent, tenacious purpose.
Whatever you do in life, keep in an ambition –
Keep close to those who are dead in earnest,
Who are anxious to do something in the world.
You will catch the spirit of your environment.
Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life–think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.
We’ve all been there and done that. Fear of failure. It’s a cold, paralyzing emotion that simply stops you from being what you want to be, do what you want to do – simply live your life openly, freely, without judgment and regret. So what can we do about it?
Well the truth is, WE ARE the only ones who can do something about it. Nobody can do it for us, as well as nobody can succeed except us. It’s our hard work, devotion and commitment.
And I would say that we all have to invest time and work when we want to get rid of that fear: an obstacle that can make our life miserable, sometimes making us feel even sorry for ourselves while watching other people having fun and enjoying life.
It’s interesting that only one change in my daily routine gave me so many different perspectives on various aspects of my life – including success and fear of failure. When I started regularly writing poetry it opened my mind to so many possibilities and different ways of thinking that every part of my life improved for the better. At the beginning I was so happy that I just, you know, began to write. With time, somehow, doubt began to creep in and I started to look for flaws: Could I’ve written something better? Could I’ve express myself more precise? Why didn’t I come up with that word (while reading the work of other aspiring authors)? But then, I tried to cheer myself: “I can write another poem, and another poem. The previous one is nor bad nor good. It’s just a reflection of one moment of my life, my thoughts…it doesn’t define me. Tomorrow I can do it better”.
And these thoughts made me look more deeply at the essence of our fear of failure. The truth is: you cannot fail. These are also the words of my favorite teacher dr Wayne Dyer, that passed away recently. You cannot fail. You can only produce certain result. In one particular moment of time it reflects your efforts, mistakes, fears and joys. But it is not who you are. There is always another try, another poem to write, another story to tell, another project to start, another person to meet, another vacation to travel. You are never late. It’s just one moment in time, not a failure.
In this whole process I would also suggest that we should revisit our beliefs about success and failure. When I look back 20 years ago, I was very ambitious, eager. I had a lot of energy and motivation – simply I could “conquer” the world. And my notion of success in that time and now differ a lot. Now, I would do many things differently. In the first place, take care more of my health. And sometimes I wonder: “Did I really follow my goals under my terms, or somebody else’s? Because, many times society implies what is success. Yet, is that success for me? What’s expected from me – is that what I really want”?
So next time you hesitate to try something new, look at things from different perspective and ask yourself: “What is my definition of success? Am I living under my terms? Am I giving my best? What would’ve happen if I only try – without getting attached to the outcome”?
Success is counted sweetest by Emily Dickinson
Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.
Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of Victory
As he defeated-dying
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
I must admit, this question bothers me from time to time. Am I giving my best? Would I like to spend my time differently? Is this all there is? Am I truly pursuing my purpose and passion?
The list can go own and unfortunately we all have that little worm of doubt that likes to dig around our consciousness and play with our thoughts. One thing I know for sure: that kind of thinking will not take us anywhere. Yesterday doesn’t exist and tomorrow is too much elusive. So instead, I try to ask my self: “Am I giving my best in this situation, in this particular moment? Am I present enough in what’s going on around me? What would make me feel better – right now?” And when you rearrange things like that – are you your best version from moment to moment, with little effort put on improving yourself – I think we are living our purpose and giving our best. Just as long we are honest about who we are.
Often, we tend to be too judgmental towards others and ourselves as well. Instead, try to be more empathetic towards your mistakes, wrong decisions, poorly made choices…with everything that you think is wrong with your life. It’s so easy to be a critique, but about being your greatest supporter and fan?
The cumulative effect of feeling good as frequent and long as we can is what actually counts; how much we are satisfied with ourselves. The poem bellow so perfectly captures the importance of those valuable moments and I’m certain it will give you courage to improve “your bits and pieces”, from moment to moment, to your full life.
Compensation by Edgar Albert Guest
I’d like to think when life is done
That I had filled a needed post.
That here and there I’d paid my fare
With more than idle talk and boast;
That I had taken gifts divine.
The breath of life and manhood fine,
And tried to use them now and then
In service for my fellow men.
I’d hate to think when life is through
That I had lived my round of years
A useless kind, that leaves behind
No record in this vale of tears;
That I had wasted all my days
By treading only selfish ways,
And that this world would be the same
If it had never known my name.
I’d like to think that here and there,
When I am gone, there shall remain
A happier spot that might have not
Existed had I toiled for gain;
That someone’s cheery voice and smile
Shall prove that I had been worth while;
That I had paid with something fine
My debt to God for life divine.
In the simplest terms, a leader is one who knows where he wants to go, and gets up and goes.
– John Erskine, author
When my mother taught me how to cook, she used to say that I should always think from the end: “prepare every pot you are going to use, preheat the oven, go wash and cut your groceries” – so I wouldn’t mess the kitchen cabinets with my oily, floury hands. And she was right: it shortens the time of cooking, cleaning and the stress that arise from hurry and clumsiness.
Pretty much the same is with business. Whenever we are able to envision where we want take our project or business, it’s much easier to plan the steps along the way. But in certain times, we don’t have that clarity in which way to turn, what is the desired outcome.
That process of breakthrough ideas – “envisioning” is a rocky journey, full of ups and downs, sometimes with obstacles and sometimes is a smooth sailing across the quiet sea.
Creative leadership can benefit from those bursts of innovative thinking and
for the sake of project/business idea, the focus should be to emulate, produce and sustain those conditions as much as possible. Poetry as a tool can help us a lot:
- Follow the hunch
When the idea is still vague, undeveloped, but you have a hunch, a feeling – write a poem about it. Write about your successful project, the benefits it will bring, how you would feel after accomplishing desired results. This type of writing can stimulate positive mood and enhances your creative abilities.
- Combine and play
Creating something new can mean rearranging the existing parts into something different – with different order, structure, introducing new elements. To connect seemingly incompatible in new ways, we can produce something extraordinary and give answers to questions we have. Einstein called this Combinatorial Play.
You can summarize all of your ideas, mix them, connect in every impossible way – in poetry. There is no logic needed, there is no judgment, there is no need for “it doesn’t work” statements. Combine and Play: you might be surprised with the innovative solutions you come up.
- Look at the big picture from a detail perspective
Creative leadership is able to recognize unexpected perspectives, keeping in mind the “big picture” – end result it wants to achieve, but pays attentions to detail, and how the change in tiny, almost invisible parts can make the whole difference.
One useful example is the story of Velcro:
In 1948, de Mestral happened upon his most enduring discovery while hiking. He and his dog returned from a hike covered in burrs from the plants along the trail. De Mestral examined the burrs under a microscope, studying their structure. He began working to develop a synthetic fastening system that mimicked the hooks and loops of the burrs.
The fabric went through a number of phases before it was finalized. De Mestral worked with a weaver in France to create hooks and loops strong and durable enough to cling together as he intended. Originally crafted from cotton, the fabric ultimately proved more successful when made out of nylon. In 1955, de Mestral unveiled his innovative new material: Velcro®. The name is a combination of the French words “velours” and “crochet,” translated to English as “velvet” and “hooks.”
How poetry relates to this? While examining the world around us, analyzing ideas, exploring available resources – especially in poetry where no rational and logical thinking is required, we can accelerate our ability to see through things, how they work, connect, respond, to understand their background. It’s an unleashed creativity that process of focused logical elimination can jump-start our innovative process.
The idea by Mark Strand
When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is play that stimulates creativity.
Many years spent in research and education helped me notice that:
- Creative people are not afraid to be childish.
- They tend to mix possible with impossible.
- They are curious and not afraid to go against the mainstream (follow “the rebel inside”).
- Often they are empathetic, emotionally challenged where through creativity they release the pain and initiate healing process.
- They embrace their introverted side.
Any of these traits we can emphasize and work on them. I believe we can be creative in whatever field we choose. For example, chefs are creative masters in the kitchen, and sales people or marketers are creative in coming up with strategies to build businesses. Poetry and writing in general can be a useful tool in helping us become more creative in other fields. One of the reasons I like poetry is that you don’t need anything beside paper, pencil and your willingness to commit to writing,
Poetry allows you to play with words – even invent new words which I adored to do when I was i child. I even invented a whole new language and was so proud when nobody could understand me except my best friend. By just playing with words, poetry awakens that forgotten child, loosens our rigid thinking and allows the impossible to become possible -which lead us to the second trait: in poetry we can mix and connect anything we like and you set your own rules for that. There’s no need for explanation, no judgment, just your free mind and spirit. There you can question everything, you can become or be anything you like and the thirst for excitement that comes from the feeling after you finish your little master-piece is what makes everything worthwhile. Being curios about your own capabilities is a sure thicket for more creative outlets.
And more then anything I appreciate my ME time. No in selfish way while neglecting others, but I think in order to develop better creative qualities we need to be alone with ourselves, listen what comes from inside and just let it go. All the pain, hurt, discomfort, disappointment, discontent.. just let it go. Pour your soul into your writing, without censuring anything – you’ll feel like clouds have disappeared and that you can see more clearly: who you are, what you want to accomplish and how.
When I was younger, I used to fear loneliness, why am I different, why I don’t fit in, why do I have different interests, why don’t I have more friends. But the truth is, I always appreciated more meaningful, deeper friendships, you know…people that support you, who are part of your experiences, who witnessed you growing in what you are today. And usually we have only few friends like that. And that’s Ok. It’s Ok to have a lot of superficial acquaintances as well. But being introverted and not easily fit in, can be a blessing in disguise. It can propel your work in the most exhilarating ways and let you experience the world from different perspectives – where by having to much useless encounters would make you too busy and diverted to see. So it’s Ok to be introverted – embrace it in your work and let your creative genius to shine!
Where the mind is without fear by Rabindranath Tagore
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
The unfed mind devours itself.
~ Gore Vidal
Is it creativity something we are innately born with or we can improve our creative skills? I would say that some people are maybe more prone to imaginative thinking and open to new ideas, but we all are creative beings. There are key creativity dimensions like knowledge, divergent thinking (cognitive style), personality, autonomy and intrinsic motivation as authors suggest in “Creative Potential and Practised Creativity: Identifying Untapped Creativity in Organizations”. In particular, research findings suggest that domain of specific knowledge is a necessary prerequisite for effective creative functioning.
In my opinion, the difference is maybe in style and tools we use to express our creativity. One of the worst things that can happen is a creativity block that we all encounter from time to time, but there are certain tricks we can apply in order to move forward with our creative thinking.
- Dive in the absurd
In the paper “Connections From Kafka: Exposure to Meaning Threats Improves Implicit Learning of an Artificial Grammar” authors argue that experiencing (reading, hearing or seeing) something absurd like surreal art or literature can increase pattern
recognition of association unrelated to the original meaning threat. In other words, mind always tries to justify, explain what it experiences and “nonsense” art forces mind in faster mode of thinking to recognize what body senses.
So next time you feel uninspired, give your attention to something abstract, surreal (painting, poem, novel) and let you mind drift, loosen up from everything you were trying to accomplish. Let your mind “recharge” this way.
- Limit your self on purpose
This might sound strange at first but when you think about it- it might be true. Often we try to find the solutions to new problems by exploring already familiar models and build our new denouement on old foundations. Furthermore, when we have to many options or resources, we try to incorporate everything and unnecessarily over-complicate solution we are seeking. When we put restrictions on what we can use and what path we should follow, it can actually boost our creative thinking. Here I suggest you improvise a bit with your solution, tackle it from different perspective and simplify your approach. It can be that final “click” you need in your mind to move thinking in right direction.
3. Play with “what if” clause
Then, return to your problem and try to look at it from “What would happen if…. ?” point of view. According to the research, presented in paper Implications of Counterfactual Structure for Creative Generation and Analytical Problem Solving:
additive counterfactual thinking mind-sets, activated by adding new antecedent elements to reconstruct reality, promote an expansive processing style that broadens conceptual attention and facilitates performance on creative generation tasks”
It’s a great way for creativity “spikes” that we all need when we feel stuck and lack ideas.
These were 3 easy steps that can help us ignite our creative imagination. What do you do when you feel uninspired? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Mobius Strip by Robert Desnos
The track I’m running on
Won’t be the same when I turn back
It’s useless to follow it straight
I’ll return to another place
I circle around but the sky changes
Yesterday I was a child
I’m a man now
The world’s a strange thing
And the rose among the roses
Doesn’t resemble another rose.
Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.
For many years I had the opportunity to live in the Hague, the Netherlands and it is one of the most diverse cities, where cultures, ethnicity, religion and human rights mix together, forming a unique atmosphere and living conditions. Diversity is a major topic and I’ve been always intrigued to which extent it governs our everyday life – especially if we work and live in diverse community.
There is a variety of differences that can exist among people within one organization. In the Forbs recent article, it states:
In addition to creating a workplace inclusive of race, gender, and sexual orientation (to name a few), many organizations are seeking value in something even simpler, diversity of thought. In some industries that are known for being insular – think law or high-tech companies – seeking out talent with different thinking and problem solving backgrounds is critical.
It is very important issue since it influences how we perceive ourselves and others. And as with every other issue, this one can have advantages and drawbacks that can affect our work life.
Some of the positive things might include different points of view, greater adaptability to changing conditions and a larger scale of skills and experiences within the organization. But often there are communication problems that can distract smooth interactions among the coworkers – which is prerequisite for timely and effective execution of projects. Ways and manners of managing diversity at workplace has become a hot topic and a lot of tools have been developed in order to bridge cultural gaps that diversity brings.
In the paper “Use of Poetry to Facilitate Communication about Diversity: An Educational Model”, authors suggest that we can effectively use poetry as a tool to facilitate communication channels among diverse and culturally challenged groups. They propose a workshop (that they tested in the following example) where the main materials for discussion are different poems from ethnically diverse poets and poems that relate to women’s issues.
Proposed workshop would begin with selecting a burning diversity topic that participants would like to discuss. Workshop facilitator afterwards chooses a poem congruent with issues that arose and a volunteer would read a poem. Participants in the group later discuss and talk about the poem.
Afterwards, participants would write their own poems, while they were also encouraged to read their poems in front of the group with the follow-up conversation. The workshop would end with the creation of collaborative poem, in which each member of the group was invited to contribute with one or more words.
Proposed time of the workshop: 3-4 hours, depending on the number of participants.
Workshop resulted in increased innovation, independence, self-discovery, sharing opportunities and collaboration. To measure these results, the Group Environment Scale was used to assess workshop effects on group dynamics.
According to the workshop feedback many participants adopted increased understanding of how gender and cultural issues may affect others.
Authors final conclusion is:
The research findings seem to indicate that the model’s interweaving of cognitive and effective elements has potential for creating changes among the individual’s perception of other cultures….metaphor can be especially instrumental in achieving this integration.
What are your thoughts on diversity, equality and inclusion? Can poetry be of any help?
Also have in mind beautiful words by Maya Angelou:
I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.
Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.
The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.
I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.
I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.
Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.
We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.
We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.
I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.
We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.
We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.