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Arts & Culture

Can A Poet Teach Business Leadership? UTSA Says 'Yes'

Scott Garen
David Whyte

UTSA’s College of Business is bringing in someone to help develop leadership, and it's a curious choice: Internationally renowned poet David Whyte.

"You’ll find that there’s a good poem for almost every threshold of human experience," Whyte explains.

Whyte’s career arc follows in interesting path. Raised inland in Yorkshire, he was drawn strongly to the sea by Jacques Cousteau, so he earned a degree in Marine Zoology. He got a job in the Galapagos Islands as a naturalist," but starting out a biology-oriented career in the earth's most interesting laboratory had a down side.

By age 25, he says "I realized that all of my ambitions in Marine Zoology had been satisfied."

So he re-ignited his artistic inclinations, which led to poetry, and strangely to business and motivational speaking careers. He says the best way to have a real conversation…

"…is to stop having the conversation you’re having now. And I would say that leads to the beautiful question, which is what is your relationship to the unknown? Do you have any relationship to the unknown, or are you always trying to replace it with the easy answer?"

If this sounds a little esoteric, Whyte says to imagine working for a new technology company. "If you have no relationship with the unknown, you’re constantly bringing in old stories. You’re not able to see new patterns that are emerging."

Suddenly, Whyte’s poetic views begin to make pragmatic sense.

"The language that we have for that world is not large enough for the territory that we’ve entered."

Whyte oftens says things that seem at first at odds, in actuality, aren’t.

"There’s a very poetic aspect to real science."

David Whyte’s appearing Saturday evening January 4th at UTSA's 1604 campus. For more about tickets to the event, follow this link.