Susan Cain

How to Create a More Beautiful Mind and Life … with Poet David Whyte

What a gift of a day. Experienced a workshop with corporate poet David Whyte – who is the real deal. He delivered dozens of profound insights distilled into crafted sentences that resonated and reverberated with everyone in the room.

It’s hard to pick a favorite of the many “iceberg ideas” he shared. A few include:

* “All of spirituality can be expressed in the footprint of friendship.”

* “Innocence is the ability to be found by the world … again and again.”

* Just beyond yourself is where you need to be.”

* “Drink from the stream of generosity and turn your palms out to receive the blessings of the world.”

Everyone in that room felt blessed to be there because David was so congruent, generous and “lit up” whiile sharing his work.

As a presentation coach, it’s fun to analyze WHY he was able to keep us engaged from start to finish. Here are a few observations as to why he is a master poet and a master presenter:

1. He was a walking-talking example of CENTERED STRENGTH (no toxic masculinity here).

2. His knowledge was a SOCRATIC OFFERING (he wasn’t coming from ego or arrogance).

3. There was an absence of trying to prove, impress or self-promote.

4. He clearly loved being there – so we did too. He would often break into full-body laughter and had a little-boy delight that was contagious in the best sense of the word

5. His DELIBERATE RECITATIONS and REPETITIONS took us deeper into the work. Instead of racing through his words, (which would have kept us on the surface), he was at peace with silence. He let the words sink in so we could absorb and reflect on them.

He modeled how important it is to SLOW DOWN instead of rushing through material to “get it all in before we run out of time.” That exhausts people and causes them to feel overwhelmed and like they “can’t keep up.” He intentionally repeated passages with different inflection and long pauses so we got something new each time.

6. His use of alliteration, rhythm and juxtaposition – the Bell and the Blackbird – made his metpahorical insights even more evocative and open to interpretation so they were personally meaningful for every single one of us.

All in all, it was a Jack Nicholson kind of day. (Smile.)

Know what I mean? Remember the movie AS GOOD AS IT GETS?

Toward the end of the movie, Helen Hunt asks Jack’s character, “Give me a compliment.”

He says, “That’s a pretty dress.”

She says, “No, pay me a real compliment.”

He seems to realize the future of their relationship depends on his ability to come up with something more meaningful. He blurts out, “You make me want to be a better man.”

That day with David made me want to be better person.

If you’re not already familiar with David’s inspiring work, check him out. His walking tours in Europe, poetry programs on how to create a more beautiful mind and life, and leadership workshops around the country just might help your “heart meet your horizon.”