Poetry & Pragmatism

February 2, 2015
Several years ago, I was leading an "Accomplishing More By Doing Less" workshop at Esalen Institute. At about the halfway point, one of the participants exclaimed, "Oh, I get it. The essence of your message is that the way to be successful and happy is by tuning into whatever the universe brings."  I responded, "I'm not really a whatever the universe brings kind of person, especially when it comes to business. I'm more of a write-the-fu**ing-business-plan guy."
Of course both are important—the poetry of tuning in to our feelings, intuitions and aspirations, while paying attention to the dynamic signals from our environment. The poetry of the imagination, of depth and connection, are essential in business and all parts of our lives. And the pragmatic is also essential—to plan, implement the plan and measure results in a way that is grounded and effective.man of the middle-2As the CEO of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, our mission and vision is quite poetic and aspirational: "All leaders in the world are wise and compassionate, thus creating the conditions for world peace."  It also has practical elements: the daily work of building a team, developing a strategy and working with customers. We are working to find ways to understand and measure wisdom and compassion, as well as identify and track what is meant by the conditions for world peace—our attempt to take poetic aspirations and make them practical, even measurable, in some way.
Suzuki Roshi, founder of the San Francisco Zen Center, often used the phrase "seeing things as they are" as a core practice for living more freely and being able to really help others— seeing clearly, beyond what we want or don't want, not being caught by our biases and one-sided views. To me, seeing things as they are is both poetic and practical.
Everywhere I look, I see the poetry and the practical— from feeling my heart beat to my most important relationships and leading and growing an organization with an audacious and important mission.
To your happiness and success,Marc Lesser, CEO of SIYLI