The Imaginative Mind

twisted vineThe imagination is crucial, in poet Wallace Stevens’ view, to the human effort to cope with an increasingly violent reality.

As he explained in a lecture presented in the midst of World War II, “The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words,” the poet responds to the extreme pressure of news and worldwide violence with the counterforce of the imagination. The role of the poet is that “of resisting or evading the pressure of reality,” knowing it may become even “deadlier” tomorrow.” It is a violence from within that protects us from a violence without. It is the imagination pressing back against the pressure of reality.”

Although Stevens’ comments were over 60 years ago, his view is relevant today, and not just for poets. We all need to use our imagination to counteract the world’s social, political and economic challenges. Continue Reading »

Another Path

“The key to success is to risk thinking unconventional thoughts.  Convention is the enemy of progress.  As long as you’ve got slightly more perception than the average wrapped loaf, you could invent something.”

-Trevor Baylis, inventor, quoted in Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind

unknownMore than ever, the world needs creative thinkers and innovators. Our social and business problems are so immense that following someone else’s well-worn path won’t lead to great opportunities. It’ll lead to more of what is known and already being done.

The quiet, insistent voice inside us saying to do that ‘crazy,’ new thing is the voice of wisdom.

We each need to follow the path of this voice.

In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” poet T.S. Eliot beautifully expressed this opportunity.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and “Do I dare?”. . .
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
Continue Reading »

Just Sit There and Do Nothing

catWe are conditioned to act. Leaders, especially, are expected to DO to get results.

But life is so complex and modern challenges so immense that sometimes the only way we can gain clarity around these issues is by becoming quiet and calming our brain.

Many years ago, when I worked as an instructor at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), I heard a story told about NOLS’ founder, Paul Petzoldt. The story goes that Paul recommended that the first thing to do when there is an emergency is — smoke a cigarette. Continue Reading »