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The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America Paperback – June 1, 1996


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The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America + Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity + The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; Reissue edition (June 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385484186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385484183
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The call for increased creativity in the workplace brings with it a concomitant challenge: how will the world of cool professionalism stand up to the inevitable heat and volatility that accompanies people's emotional and spiritual lives? It is problematic to assume, poet David Whyte explains, that you can ask people to create and also to behave. The Heart Aroused explores these and related issues in an inspiring, grounded, thought-provoking way, and is the best nonverse book by a poet since Robert Bly's Iron John. Interwoven with carefully selected poems to illustrate Whyte's points, The Heart Aroused is necessary reading for any professional who secretly harbors a poet's soul.

From Booklist

A corporate analyst who quotes Dante, Yeats, and Blake? Whyte, a maverick business consultant, wends his way through office and board room finding occasions for poetic reflection. The reader who attends to his message may indeed discover that success in business is spiritual, not merely financial, and that time spent in meditating will count for more in the end than time spent tabulating profits and losses. This intuitive rather than rational line of reasoning will mystify--perhaps infuriate--executives hardened to everything except career advancement. But readers willing to lay aside workaday preconceptions will learn ways to look for the hidden patterns of labor and creativity that can give new meaning to corporate employment. While some of Whyte's insights translate almost immediately into more effective office communication and management, many require the slow pondering that leads to fundamental reorientation of vision. Bryce Christensen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Poet David Whyte grew up with a strong, imaginative influence from his Irish mother among the hills and valleys of his father's Yorkshire. He now makes his home, with his family, in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The author of six books of poetry and three books of prose, David Whyte holds a degree in Marine Zoology and has traveled extensively, including living and working as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands and leading anthropological and natural history expeditions in the Andes, the Amazon and the Himalaya. He brings this wealth of experience to his poetry, lectures and workshops.

His life as a poet has created a readership and listenership in three normally mutually exclusive areas: the literate world of readings that most poets inhabit, the psychological and theological worlds of philosophical enquiry and the world of vocation, work and organizational leadership.

An Associate Fellow at Templeton College and Said Business School at the University of Oxford, he is one of the few poets to take his perspectives on creativity into the field of organizational development, where he works with many European, American and international companies. In spring of 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Neumann College, Pennsylvania.

In organizational settings, using poetry and thoughtful commentary, he illustrates how we can foster qualities of courage and engagement; qualities needed if we are to respond to today's call for increased creativity and adaptability in the workplace. He brings a unique and important contribution to our understanding of the nature of individual and organizational change particularly through his unique perspectives on Conversational Leadership.

Customer Reviews

This is a very interesting book, written by a thoughtful and insightful poet.
Deborah Gorsline
David Whyte's soulful stories and poetry have opened up to me much of troubled me about my relationship to work and the other things in life that matter.
David Cale
For me, it was a series of "aha!" moments that helped me shift my feelings about myself, work and the middle of the road of my life.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 17, 1998
Format: Paperback
The Heart Aroused is a book about the state of the soul in the corporate workplace, written by an English poet. If you've ever wondered "Am I the only one who is miserable here?" or "Do others feel they can't speak the truth?" or "Are others being smothered here as well?", you will love this book. Yes - others feel these things. This book says what no one will articulate: it IS hard to speak the truth (or gain one's own voice) in the corporate workplace, it IS hard to maintain one's integrity and BE oneself, it IS hard to be healthy and happy in this environment. But Whyte does not advocate heading for the hills - he feels the corporate workplace can be transformed (with effort) by more awareness on the part of both management and workers. He DOES see the good points of corporations (as efficiency). He, himself, goes into corporations giving workshops on this subject. He ends by mentioning that we spend most of our waking hours at work, so it is a matter of our health, on every level, how we are able to function, what kind of conditions surround us, and what the goals of the corporation are. As a work of beauty, as a book that reinforces what so many people feel, and as something that provokes thought, I highly recommend this book.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Frankly, I found this to be an especially demanding book even when reading it for a second time. Whyte requires of his reader a rigorous as well as truthful self-exploration, and in ways and to an extent few other authors do. As is so often true in other dimensions of human experience, the benefits derived from reading his book are almost wholly dependent upon how much is personally invested in it. As Whyte explains, he wrote this book "hoping it would be read in two ways. First, as a good story about the difficulties and dramas of preserving the soul at work -- in short, a page-turner; second, as a book that could be studied, contemplated, and discussed with others." More than 50 years ago, Mortimer Adler affirmed the value of reading the "great books" because they stimulate and enrich what he called "a conversation across the centuries." I think this is what Whyte has in mind when providing, in the book's final section (a "User's Guide"), a number of thoughts for reflection and discussion as well as for self-questioning. For example: "What is my heart's desire in life? What are some of the particularities of the way I like to live? What are the essential qualities that give me a sense of belonging? How can work be a good servant to my essential nature instead of a taskmaster?" As I now reflect on this book after a second reading, I think its greatest value lies not only in the truth of what Whyte expresses so eloquently but also in what his assertions and questions require his readers to consider as they seek spiritual fulfillment in their own lives. Those who my high regard for this book are urged to read Whyte's other books, especially Crossing the Unknown: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity and Fire in the Earth; also, to check out David Maister's Practice What You Preach and Tim Sanders' Love Is the Killer App as well as Eliyahu M. Goldratt's The Goal, Critical Acclaim, and It's Not Luck.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Mary R. Bast on December 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
David Whyte, in The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America, writes that "If there is one common experience of complexity in the workplace, it would be the experience of feeling lost... in the difficulty of a situation or in our very arrogance or nervousness over a problem." Whyte was encouraged as a resource to business by Peter Block--a trainer, organization consultant, and author of The Empowered Manager--because the powerful images available in poetry can be liberating in the workplace.
As a lover of poetry, I was delighted when a client gave me tickets for one of Whyte's workshops a few years ago. One of the poems that Whyte recited for us (and cites in his book) is a teaching tale in the Native American tradition by David Wagoner. It was a thrilling personal experience to hear in Whyte's resounding and dramatic voice Wagoner's response to the question, "What do I do when I am lost in the forest?" (shown in part below):
Stand still, the trees ahead / and bushes beside you / are not lost... / Stand still, the forest / knows where you are. / You must let it find you.
Observing Whyte's impact on others in the group (many of them business people) also gave me the courage to use poetry in my development work with business executives, focusing on the symbolic aspects of people's (and organizations') growth potential. David Whyte has done us all a service in demonstrating how powerful poetry can be in "arousing our hearts," in enabling significant personal transformation. I highly recommend his tapes and books of poetry, as well as The Heart Aroused.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By George P. Shadroui on July 27, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Whyte is a fine writer and this book is a noteworthy contribution to the literature on how to bring creativity and soul not only into the corporate world, but into each of our lives. He works hard at underscoring the symbolic importance of his literary references to Beowulf, Coleridge and Eliot, among others, and writes for readers who might not otherwise be poetically inclined. A Heart Aroused argues very simply that each of us owe it to ourselves to bring courage and passion into our work and into our lives. If we cannot embrace the job with passion, perhaps we are in the wrong job. He discusses the fear and voicelessness that so often dominate tough corporate environments, and the troubling compromises that each of us make as we struggle to balance many pressures and demands. When these compromises become too severe, he argues, we begin to slip into a comatose mode of life and lose our edge and our passion for quality and good service. But this is not an easy issue -- some will be tempted to counter that practical concerns are not easily set aside when family and career are at stake. Many a corporate person battens down the hatches and seeks to weather the storms below deck rather than experience the exhileration of being fully engaged in overcoming crises and challenges, when failure can lead to such devastating results. Quite frankly, there are times and situations when we are not welcomed by those in power to engage these challenges. The goal of all good managers and CEOs, Whyte is saying, is to turn their companies into soul friendly environments, for only then will their employees and their products reach their full potential.Read more ›
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