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Business Officer Magazine

More Meaningful Conversations With Many Constituencies

“We live in an increasingly complex world,” said author and poet David Whyte, in his featured session “Three Marriages: Work, Self, Other.” Whyte pondered the kind of language we can use when we need to relate to so many constituencies, including ourselves, our life partners, and our work—the combination of which Whyte calls three marriages. We have a tendency, he said, “to create conversation-free zones in which we can get our work done.” Describing himself as a facilitator of conversations, Whyte explained the ways he uses poetry and “fierce language” to engage people in meaningful relationships.

Punctuating his remarks with dramatically orated stanzas of poetry, including some of his own writings, Whyte made the following observations:

  • “What keeps our work alive is the ability to remember the invitation that first brought you there.”
  • “What keeps you in your marriage is often the recollection of the shared promise and commitment.”
  • “Most human beings live in a state of exile from spouse, work, and self. ... We think we know what we are about, but oftentimes we don't know at all.”

In the end, said Whyte, the three marriages of work, self, and other are nonnegotiable. “You can't give up one at the expense of the others; you need a marriage of the marriages.” (To read a preconference interview with Whyte, see "Lyrical Leadership," in the July-August 2010 issue of Business Officer.)

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