Why You Need Poets for Purpose

Written by

Cathy Carlisi Managing Director |

Aug 19, 2020 · 3-minute read

There’s a lot of coverage these days, from the HBR to Fast Company, about how poetry can build creative pathways in the brain for new ways of thinking. This non-linear problem solving is critical for our new normal. While there’s science to back it up, it’s something we’ve known intuitively since day one — you need eloquent language that hits you in the gut to inspire people to think and do differently. And considering our work focuses on Purpose—something that must both inspire and mobilize organizations to optimize, innovate, change—it’s no wonder we’ve always relied on poets to get Purpose right.

Poets in business? Why, yes. People who prefer to wade and wallow in words over tweaking cells in Excel, or populating a power point. People who will sweat every syllable, write and rewrite a Purpose statement and its story hundreds of times, as if their lives depended on it. Those who are able to capture the tone of an organization like Rembrandt captures light, and sculpt a narrative arc out of metal or dirt or oil or cotton, like Michelangelo finds muscle in stone.

BrightHouse is built on the belief that only those willing to weave an organization and its people into every thought are fit for the rigor of getting it right. Because Purpose is not the work of prima donnas who crave accolades, awards, or authorship. Rather, the creators of an organization’s Purpose disappear, like sugar in hot water, transforming what they’ve touched without leaving a visible trace.

The Beauty of Eloquence is one of BrightHouse’s Purpose Principles. “Eloquence is a word which has been made the expression for the highest power of speech in producing the effect desired, especially if the desire be to move the feelings or the will. (Century Dictionary.)” And for us, eloquence extends beyond words. This is why so many of our creative and strategic thinkers are published poets, short fiction writers, novelists, painters, dancers, hip-hop artists, film makers, photographers—all who use rhythm, color, story, and passion to bring Purpose to life and life to Purpose.

To write Purpose right is to hit the heart, the gut, the essence of our shared humanity with a Mohamed Ali wallop that moves people into action. Two-hundred and twenty-five times more productive* is what tapping into discretionary effort can mean. Because when Purpose is activated and re-activated consistently, people not only know, but also feel, that what they do matters. They understand they don’t just make cement blocks or stamp sheet metal or balance a P&L–they are part of a movement that will leave society better. If you hit the right chord, turn the right phrase, you are off to a strong start. Then, with the same zeal and grace, you must use Purpose as a lens to elevate an organization’s culture, strategy, and brand. This is how Purpose unlocks bigger bolder ways of thinking, and turns employees into evangelists, investors into believers.

*Garton, E. and Mankins, M. (2015). Engaging Your Employees Is Good, but Don’t Stop There. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2015/12/engaging-your-employees-is-good-but-dont-stop-there

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