For a good numbers of years now, we have been working with the well known poet and presenter David Whyte. David speaks to the human condition; to the core challenges individuals and organisations face today. With a unique and compelling blend of poetry, humour and insight, his talks traverse boundaries, making him a sought after speaker at a wide range of conferences, global organisations and literary events around the world.
He uses poetry, his own and others, as a means to connect into deep questions about the many dimensions of our lives, including our work and frequently he gives his audience deep pause for thought. One such example are a couple of lines from his poem Sweet Darkness:
Anyone or anything that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
That message is a clear reminder about purpose, inspiration and identity, yet it also begs other questions.
For example, how do we make something or someone too small for us? Do we do so to enhance our own sense of worth? Does our busyness or fear lead us away from attending to what we really care about. Who or what is worth our attention and interest?
Neuroscience is showing us that the antidote to boredom/disinterest is attention. It sounds kind of obvious but as a person gets curious and interested their felt connection to the other increases. One could say, attention becomes a stimulus for love.
Another dimension to this is, when do we make ourselves too small, or put another way, how do we make ourselves equal to the questions and challenges we face? Rather than contract from them, turn our back, or meet them with aggression. In Ireland they speak of being able, he is able for her, she is able for that work, they are able for that challenge.
So in summary, we want to connect into that which brings us alive, to pay good attention and to be big (but humble) enough to resiliently and skilfully meet the world as it is.
It is tough in today’s world to feel sufficiently resourced. It feels easier and perhaps simply necessary to keep our concerns small and our answers familiar and comfortable.
Our work now is to enlarge personal capacities, to ask the difficult questions, to think differently, to have the courageous conversations and to take the actions we truly need to be taking.
(The remarkable David Whyte is presenting a day for us on 4th April in London under the title, Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity see, http://www.thebeyondpartnership.co.uk/pages/events/david-whyte.php)