Working By Heart
During my time with Invitas, the year-long study of Conversational Leadership with the poet David Whyte and his talented faculty, one of our invitations was to “become intimate with a piece of poetry or verse and be prepared to share this with the group.”
The intent of this, I later learned, was to commit a passage by heart so that it was internalized. And, when appropriate perform the piece. The performance for many is a completely different and somewhat daunting issue. In parallel, working closely with David, his faculty and my cohort, we developed a bond of sorts; a connection not just of the mind, but of the heart.
When we know something by heart our relationship to it changes. It deepens to our core. Like when we work closely with a team of people at work, partners in business, or life partners, friends, and collaborators. By committing to know something by heart we also commit to working with heart—the two are inextricable.
By living and working with heart, we create a deeper bond and impact with the people and the work we’re committed to. This bond stays with us, like a poem infused in our mind’s eye.
“A true vocation calls us out beyond ourselves; breaks our heart in the process and then humbles, simplifies and enlightens us about the hidden, core nature of the work that enticed us in the first place.”
― David Whyte
Back to poetry by heart…
What I discovered by knowing poems and passages by heart is that when we do so we become intimate with the meaning of the piece. In a way, we make it uniquely ours by bringing our own meaning to it.
By learning anything by heart, we do them with heart. I have now committed a handful of my favorite poems to memory by reciting them out loud to myself as I walked in the wilderness or along the shore. These poems I know by heart and I carry the wisdom within them as an ever-present remembrance. I sometimes use this poetry in my talks, workshops and work with groups as a language to move people beyond the vernacular in the workplace.
We have the opportunity every day, every week and every year to choose to live with heart. As you enter into your new year, I offer you this piece of poetry and wish you the peace and blessings for a prosperous, peace-filled, and lucid 2020.
May the clarity of your work be done with heart and may it take root for the benefit of many.