Poetry, Leadership, Bold

Couple dancing tango through a pool of light
Couple dancing tango through a pool of light (c) Carole Edrich 2018

Last year, after getting to grips with the double shock of my mother’s stroke and the likely impact of the global pandemic I resolved to use the interregenum wisely. Plans included a set of tactical changes in my impact start-up DanceGRiST, a widening of approach to include more of the Belgian culture scene, support of the campaigning undertaken by What Next? in the UK and an ambitious plan of formal and informal training designed to help me be as well-informed as possible whilst catching my formal qualifications up to my practical experience.

Scheduled on a Saturday and straddling both business and creative concerns, the opportunity came when I was grappling with personal questions around authenticity and ethical behaviour. I had no expectations. The biggest reason I decided to join was the facilitator. I am in awe of her multilingual creative facility with the written and spoken word. Dorothy Oger’s short course ‘Poetry for Leaders, Bold Dreamers and Intrapreneurs’ fit into none of my planned subject areas, but in less than three hours it had given me a much-needed strengthening of belief in my strategy.

Although I have not discussed it with Dorothy, I believe the interrelated objectives to this short workshop were;

  • To get and give insight into how this group of people see leadership in general and in others, and to our own leadership challenges
  • To discover how we might express our own ideas and provide insight to others
  • To provide a safe space for mutual personal development

We did not give our own names, and the names we created to reflect our leadership aspirations were in themselves revealing. The workshop’s structure introduced basic concepts, encouraged us to play with words in formats that, while suggested, were in no means enforced, prompted us to share our poetry and then gave us space to discuss what we discovered. Think that sounds basic? It wasn’t. The process worked because of the open, flexible and pragmatically artistic way that Dorothy took us through the workshop, and because of the way we worked together in breakout rooms on the tasks she provided.

In such a breakout room two strangers gave me a metaphor for my leadership style that will remain with me for a long time. It articulates my belief in people, in the strength of the artists for- and with- whom I work. It is my approach, my strategy and the eventual outcome rolled into one. The poem is sufficient. It is an out-of-the-box articulation of what I’m about, and because it is mine, and because the metaphor was given to me by others, it gives me strength. Although unfinished, now it is written it has fulfilled its purpose, having engendered and then consolidated in me a level of confidence in my purpose, strategy and tactical direction.

There is more. The breadth of the pandemic shut off my creative drive. The creative itch – that internal indicator that something creative is about to develop – revived during the workshop, having died in March 2020 when I emotionally grasped its likely long term impact. I have since returned to my own creative practice and have started working on a new project.

Here is that poem, it is unfinished and has no title.

I am mycelium, I reach.
I reach from growing things, from roots of trees.
From roots of trees, new things, and old, I extend.
I extend. Although tiny, I am many.
I am many millions. I reach out with inexorable change.
Inexorable change from a myriad of minuscule connections.
A myriad of minuscule connections. Never seen, I am always here.
I am always here. I underly everything. Drawing from diverse commonality. I am fundamental.
I am fundamental. I tie small things to large things, clumps to communities, tired earth to new growth.
New growth with inexorable potential. Notice my affects, you’ll not see me.
Notice my affects, you’ll not see me. My power is in a million connections.
A million connections. I am change.