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The Unseen ROI of Poetry

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Have you noticed that it's getting harder and harder to separate our personal lives from our professional lives? I have.

More of us spend much more time at work than at home or at leisure these days. Maybe it's time to introduce our personal selves -- the parts of ourselves that are in touch with our feelings and our spirituality -- to our business selves, the parts of ourselves that go to work every day. Incorporating our feelings and spirituality with our business lives can bring a wholeness and integrity that just might have a synergistic effect on productivity and creativity in business.

That's not to say that you should start meditating and chanting with incense burning down the hall from your CEO's office. What I am suggesting is that it's more than okay to bring our souls, our whole selves, to work. In his book The Heart Aroused, David Whyte addresses the needs of the heart and soul in business. "A soulful approach to work is probably the only way an individual can respond creatively to the high-temperature stress of modern work life." He has been bringing his unique blend of poetry and insight into the world of work to illustrate how we can foster qualities of courage and engagement while increasing creativity and productivity.

Whether you're an entrepreneur caught up in the day to day building of your business or a corporate worker, your life can easily be overrun by busyness. These constant demands dull our senses and bury our souls.

Whyte reminds us that not only is fire an enduring image in our lives, but being in touch with it is one of our basic human needs. "Fire has been the touchstone of human creativity and passion since the beginning of our literate and aural history." We describe the creative process using heat. An idea is sparked, a fire grows in our bellies, heats us up, gets our creative juices flowing. Our ideas are fiery gifts that ignite our passions and imagination.

It's ironic that when we get an idea and go right into the details of action, all our planning, calculating, networking, and 'to-doing' is what brings us out of our hearts and into our heads, dousing our burning desires with a cool stream of 'what-if's or just plain overwork. Our fun, exciting idea becomes more about achieving a goal than enjoying the process and having fun along the way. Our vision has shifted from an inspired big picture to the minutia of details. What if we could find balance in both?

We can if we are aware and committed to it. I love to use poetry. Now don't stop reading! Bear with me. If building a rich 'soul-life' is dependent on the simple act of remembering what is most important to us, then poetry will help.

Forget what you learned in school. Poetry doesn't have to be analyzed and dissected. Instead, think of it the way you think of a favorite song. You let the notes of music wash over you. You could be remembering where you were and who you were with when you first heard it, or you could be thinking of someone special as it brings you back to your youth with a smile. Maybe you sing along, not even understanding what the lyrics are about, but you enjoy them just the same. Think "Blinded by the Light."

Let poetry be your song. Use it to gain clarity, a sense of grounding and let it inspire you. Just as a song can get your body moving, poetry can stir your creative juices. And poetry can be really simple and easy. Jack Grapes, in his well-attended writing workshops, tells his students to think of a poem as prose with different line breaks.

No matter your circumstances, it's always beneficial to make time to connect with your own heart. Bringing soul into to the forefront of our lives in all areas will reignite the fire in your heart.

David Whyte wrote:


Good poetry begins with


the lightest touch,


a breeze arriving from nowhere,


a whispered healing arrival,


a word in your ear,


a settling into things,


then, like a hand in the dark,


it arrests the whole body


steeling you for revelation.

Like this poem, inspiration is sparked by a simple memory, a moment in time. Maybe you were listening to a story your friend told you, or thinking of your favorite food, 'the lightest touch' and you have your idea, your passion, your fire.

All you have to do is slow down and observe, pick up a pen and write what you see, what you feel, what you experience. Drop into yourself and discover what gifts lie waiting for you inside. It's an investment in our future, one that money can't buy.