What Poetry Can Teach us About Business

poetry is good for business

poetry is good for business

What Poetry Can Teach us About Business

April is National Poetry Month. I adore poetry! In fact my doctorate focused on the study of Latin American poetry but that seems like a lifetime ago. For many years I forgot about poetry and how much I loved reading and writing it. I got busy raising my kids, being married and running a publishing company.

In fact, it was because of my parenting magazine that I discovered National Poetry Month when I started to receive press releases about children’s poems or events honoring poets. Suddenly I began to think about poetry again, to long for poetry in my life. You wouldn’t think it would be that hard to read poetry, most of them aren’t that long… but it takes time to savor a poem, to gather it’s meaning and sit with it.

Starting a Business Takes so Much Time!

Time seemed like an incredible luxury in the early years of parenting and starting a business. Too many things that I loved slipped through my fingers – poetry, making art, cooking, Sunday afternoon bike rides or trips to the zoo, dates with my husband… Now 15 years later my perspective has changed and my commitment to myself and my family has changed. I have shifted my priorities to focus more on family and less on work. Work still gets done and lots of it but I am no longer willing to sacrifice what matters most. Do I still linger too long in my home office, sending just one more email or making one more phone call… of course I do. The difference is how conscious I am of time – I don’t let it rule my life and I don’t let work take up ALL of my time.

The truth is, I love to work, I love the work that I do and it can be easy to spend all my time in front of this computer doing something. But I find that when I relax into my life, go for a walk, sit at my craft table or watch tv with my kids, my brain is more open to new ideas.

Why Reading Poetry is Good for Business

Reading poetry is a perfect example of an activity that can help me to see my life and my work differently. One line from a poem might spark an idea for a blog post, a piece of art, inspiration for a teleseminar or a new product. I might find the perfect poem to send to a client who needs some inspiration and joy. Creativity is a crucial part of any business growth and strategy – we need to constantly search for ways to be more creative in our business!

So today, I am sharing with you a favorite poem of mine by American poet Mary Oliver. I find her poetry to be easily accessible and honest. She has an incredible way of bringing deep concepts out into the open in a way that sheds new light or makes me go, “Ah, yes, that’s it!” Enjoy this poem, “The Journey.” This poem inspired this blog post today. The entrepreneur’s journey can be long and lonely but for many of us, it’s the only journey we can choose.

poetry is good for business

The Journey

by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

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  1. Scott on April 2, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Never been into poetry, but you have an interesting take on it. Maybe I should reconsider…

    • minette on April 2, 2014 at 9:56 am

      Hi Scott, so many people have that attitude. I think we all have memories of high school poetry that aren’t so pleasant. It’s interesting re-reading some of the poems from my vantage point now and going, “Oh, that’s what it meant…”

  2. Caroline on April 2, 2014 at 9:32 am

    I love how poetry inspires you and can totally relate to the just one more email…having a home office as well! Thanks for sharing. I hope you get to write a lot in the coming months.

    • minette on April 2, 2014 at 9:54 am

      Thanks, Caroline, love the Ultimate Blog Challenge just for the chance to write more!

  3. Penny McDaniel on April 2, 2014 at 9:55 am

    I absolutely LOVE poetry! And Happy National Poetry Month to you, too!

    Poetry teaches us a lot about ourselves and others which in turn helps us to approach life and business from a creative perspective.

    Love the poem by Mary Oliver…one of my faves.

    Will you be posting some of your own poetry for us to enjoy???

    • minette on April 2, 2014 at 9:58 am

      Thanks for the kick in the pants to share some of my own poetry, Penny. I haven’t been doing much writing in that genre the past few years but can probably dig up a poem or to share.

  4. Andrea on April 2, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Thanks, Minette ~

    Not only do I appreciate Mary Oliver’s poetry, I really enjoyed the way you defined the “trap” for those of us who are fortunate to have work we love. Unless we get away from it, we lose perspective and effectiveness. One of my mentors advised “If you want to be good at anything make sure you have a juicy life!”

    • minette on April 2, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      I love that quote, Andrea, thanks for sharing it here!!

  5. Pamela on April 2, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    What a great post Minette, linking poetry and business! I particularly resonated with several statements you made “I find when I relax into my life, go for a walk, sit at my craft table or watch tv with my kids, my brain is more open to new ideas.” Taking walks in nature is also a great way to tap into your creative side. AND “Creativity is a crucial part of any business growth and strategy”. That is so true, so often we focus on left brain logic and connecting with our right brain enables us to design our own unique businesses and ways of working.

    • minette on April 3, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Pamela, thank you so much for your lovely feedback. I love nature walks, too!

  6. Linda Joy on April 3, 2014 at 2:35 am

    Minette, thank you for sharing Mary’s beautiful poem! I can feel the passion you have for poetry. Like you, because I LOOOOOVE the work I do it can become too easy to keep ‘working’ and not take time for fun, relaxation, creative pursuits etc. Thank you for the reminder that …
    “Creativity is a crucial part of any business growth and strategy – we need to constantly search for ways to be more creative in our business!”

    • minette on April 3, 2014 at 11:25 am

      Thanks for the positive feedback, Linda Joy!

  7. […] your best opportunity to cultivate and create your personal brand. Yesterday I wrote a post about poetry and business. I adore poetry, in fact, in the article I share that I have a Ph.D. in poetry. But what does that […]

  8. teri goetz on April 4, 2014 at 10:01 am

    I was so moved by this poem! So beautiful, and yes, I, too read for inspiration, and it can run from poetry to personal development, to spiritual. The creative connection is so important to entrepreneurs. Brilliant posting. Thanks and I’ll be sharing this poem with a few clients! gorgeous!

    • minette on April 4, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      Thank you for the lovely feedback Teri. Sharing poetry is so much fun!

  9. Krithika Rangarajan on May 7, 2015 at 9:40 am

    It’s funny you wrote about poetry because I have started reading one poem every day. I never rush this process – when my heart is calm and my emotions are warm, I pick one poem and spend 5-10 minutes with it!

    I am on a Robert Frost kick lately 😉

    ENJOYED this poem, sweetie. I gotta cut and paste it <3

    LOVE you

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