I recently listened to a TED podcast featuring poet Billy Collins former Poet Laureate for the United States. The topic was the creative process and during the discussion he made a simple statement:
Start a meeting with a poem.
When we gather together at meetings often we are not centered and focused on the discussion at hand. Distractions … thoughts of other tasks, what to have for lunch, and just about anything outside of the meeting space fill our minds. We question the need to meet at all.
An experienced leader knows all this and will typically work to focus the meeting participants at the beginning of the meeting. As well-intentioned a discussion on meeting objectives and goals, the pattern returns and distractions again creep back.
An experienced and wise leader recognizes the need to go bold at times. For the right meeting, at the right time … open the meeting with a poem.
The uniqueness of this act alone will gather the attention of the participants. The wandering mind will find what it seeks right there in the room.
Beyond this uniqueness, every poem is open for interpretation by each who listens. “What do you think? How do you feel? How does this poem relate to our meeting topic here today?” As the meeting leader, imagine asking these questions.
I believe poets are everywhere, but most are not aware. By introducing a poem to kick off a meeting, you tap into that undercurrent flowing in each of us and between us.
The goal of meetings is to establish understanding and agreement. A poem can serve to open the vessel of uncommon thought circling the room. The wise leader then proceeds to gather the circles in tight and assure a common understanding on the topic at hand. The meeting is a success.
As a leader can you see yourself beginning a meeting with a poem? Yes, I can.
Here is a wonderful video interpretation of a Billy Collins poem, Some Days. And yes, a good poem for the right meeting.
What do you think?