Poetry is subversive. It dives in and plays deep in territory we haven’t stepped into before, asking questions we dare not ask.

Poet David Whyte, speaking at the Remarkable Leadership series, considers the bigger questions.

He weaves poetry with story and observation to offer keys to help us consider how the particular aspects of our work and passions connects to a much larger reality that is quite invisible to us. We also come to see that if we limit our perception of self, work and relationship to the superficial, we miss the way these everyday items and events can open us to the deeper purpose supporting our work and to the wellspring of our creativity.

David tells the Sufi teaching story of Mullah Nasruddin. Nasruddin traveled each day from Saudi Arabia to Egypt with his donkey loaded with many packs, and each day the border officials would search his packs to see what he was smuggling in. They never found anything suspicious. For four years, the border officials were determined to catch this smuggler. They watched him become increasingly wealthier until he finally stopped crossing the border every day. Later the chief border official also retired and he happens to meet meet Nasruddin. The official said, “Now that we are both retired, you are not in any danger. For my own sense of curiosity, please tell me what is was that you were smuggling.” Nasruddin answers, “Donkeys.”

The focus on the minutia caused the officials to miss seeing what was happening. The smuggling was about a different donkey every day for four years.

Assessment tools such as the MBTI, Enneagram, Reiss and DiSC look at parts of a whole to shine a light on aspects of a person’s preferences, worldview, motivation and strengths. We understand that this is not who we are but rather that these tools provide a way of reflecting back to ourselves ways we might be in the world. They open the door for inspection and discussion so that we can understand who we are and make sense of how others may be different.

If we get distracted or lost in the details of these tools we miss the whole. Indeed we miss the person.

In addition, if we focus all of our attention on the superficial aspects of the person and their work we miss the larger territory below the surface and all that that can contribute to finding deeper meaning and to our well-being.

Category: creativity / Leadership / Uncategorized
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