The Poet's Keys™
Leaders and poets want the same thing.
Both strive to innovate on the status quo to offer their audience a new perspective, and, consequently, a new way to exist in the world. The problem is that for leaders, the status quo often becomes a comfortable place for us to hide.
By contrast, poetry’s very existence requires innovation, because poetry is the act of stepping out of our comfort zones to change the way we see the world.
In other words, without innovation, poets don’t exist.
Poets face the same barriers to change that leaders do – but they learn to turn to five tools that allow them to break through those barriers. So – how can we as leaders use The Poet’s Keys™ to unlock the doors to change in our own work, and to inspire our audiences to do the same?
A poet’s work begins the moment they choose to interrupt their daily routines to stop and notice the world around them. Only when they do this do they become alive to the new ideas worth exploring with their pen. How have you become tethered to habit – and what opportunities for growth might it be preventing you from discovering?
The richest metaphors are born of a poet’s willingness to see the world not for its literal reality, but for what they have the audacity to imagine it as. This requires them to ask questions that compel them to reimagine what they previously thought possible. When was the last time you were willing to suspend disbelief in what feels impossible today to sow the seeds of a grand aspiration?
The poet Tennessee Williams famously said, "When I write, I aim for the wastebin." Perfectionism is writer’s block in disguise. In order to create new work, the poet must be willing to “get out of their own way” by falling in love with their rough drafts in all of their flaws. If you were to embrace imperfectionism in the pursuit of new competency, what would be the first skills that you would reach for?
When a poem uses language in an unusual and abstract way, the use of sound – rhythm, repetition, rhyme – can offer the reader a sense of comfort that enables them to continue to brave new ideas. When leading your teams through change, what are you doing to practice the empathy that keeps an audience motivated to stay the course of challenge or discomfort?
Some of the most powerful forms of growth and change come in the form of the poet facing down uncomfortable topics and sharing them with their audience, even when doing so is frightening or vulnerable. As a leader, what "poems" are you avoiding addressing with your audience – and how could embracing the role of the performer empower you to embrace them?