Prose by Wayne Visser
~ We were all born to be wild and tricked into being tame ~
Do you enjoy the great outdoors?
Have you ever been on safari?
Do you have a favourite wild animal?
There is something about life in the wild that we find irresistibly attractive – we are drawn to it.
It reminds us how incredible nature is, from the smallest microbes to the largest mammals.
The more we learn about the complex web of life, the more awestruck it leaves us.
If you are an engineer, you can only marvel at the design perfections.
If you are a scientist, the intricate interplay of diverse elements is fascinating.
If you are an entrepreneur, the innovation of species to find their niche will amaze you.
For the military strategist, the battles for survival in nature are an endless source of ideas.
And for the artist, the manifest beauty of creation is a wellspring that never runs dry.
No matter who we are or what we do, it is near impossible not to be inspired by wildlife.
It is humbling to contemplate our place as humans on this earth – one species among countless others; one species threatening the existence of so many, through ignorance and arrogance.
Ironically, the very wildlife we are destroying holds the key to our own salvation.
Animals in the wild, living in dynamic harmony with their surroundings and each other, are exemplars of the balance that we have lost.
Not that nature is without its fair share of violence and seeming cruelty, but it lacks our excessive appetite for greed.
Wildlife is intimately in tune with the cycles of life – the rhythms of the sun and the moon, the changing of the seasons and the inevitability of birth and death.
By contrast, somehow we have lost touch with nature’s longings, fallen out of sync with her moods and become deaf to her music.
Wildlife can not only help us to re-establish our resonance with nature, but also inspire us in a highly personal and individual way.
All the ancient tribes of the world knew the secret power of animal totems.
Animals were their teachers, their guardians.
So much so that the line between animal and human was not sharply drawn like it is today, but blurred, even erasable.
Many believed that they would be reincarnated as their totem, and their tribal shamans had the mystical gift of shapeshifting – of changing from human into animal, and back again.
No wonder they had such a deeply held respect for wildlife.
Do you have a totem animal?
Is there a creature from the wild that inspires you, whose traits serve as a role model for your own life?
Could it be the compassion of the elephant that moves you?
Or the resourcefulness of the fox?
Or the teamwork of the wild dog?
If you don’t already have one, why not choose a totem today?
Let it be a symbol of what you value most, a reminder of the ideals you strive for, a metaphor for the characteristics in people that you admire.
It may be the start of a surprisingly enriching journey of discovery, as you learn more about the animal, and in turn, about yourself.
Perhaps it will reawaken some of the wildness in your heart, your desire to be free.
We are all looking for the courage to break out of our cages, to no longer be bound by the expectations of others.
We yearn to follow our instincts about what is good and right for us.
The lessons of wildlife can help you to become that person you know you can be, to see the lion inside the pussycat, and to realise that today is your day to roar.
Wayne Visser © 2005
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The Art of Business
Prose by Wayne Visser
~ The art of business is, if anything, the art of being human ~
Business is, by its very nature, an adventure in creativity, an exercise in imagination, an enterprise in innovation.
If you think about it, commerce is all about creation – creation of markets, companies, products, brands and jobs – as well as finding inventive ways to target, design, position, package and sell these.
Even before ‘entrepreneurship’ entered the business lexicon, successful enterprise has always been the nexus where invention meets opportunity, innovation meets needs and resourcefulness meets markets.
So it is somewhat surprising to reflect on how little business has drawn on that paragon of creativity – the arts – to challenge, inspire, inform and project itself.
By contrast, the arts themselves have never shied away from using business as the inspiration for their creative endeavours.
So what happens when we open the Pandora’s Box of artistic perspectives on business?
Can we piece together a mosaic of creative visions on commerce?
Or join up the dots of imagination on trade?
By using the arts – including painting, film, theatre, literature, cartoons and poetry – we get to see business’s public persona reflected (including its shadow self).
We are able to illustrate, through the medium of the arts, how business is perceived in different parts of the world and at different times in history, including up to the present day.
So where might we start looking for images of business-in-the-looking-glass?
Would it be movies like Wall Street (“greed is good!”) or The Corporation (“the pathological pursuit of profit and power”)?
Or perhaps the poetry of former Fortune 500 executive James Autry (author of “Love & Profit”) or the literary genius of Shakespeare (“all that glitters is not gold”)?
Would we question why so many business leaders take inspiration from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” or Machiavelli’s “The Prince”?
And would we be amused or infuriated by the doctored logos of multinationals or spoof corporate websites that fall foul of anti-globalisation protesters?
Is there “many a truth in jest” to be found in the “fat-cat” businessman caricatures that go back centuries, or the cartoon vitriol of Enron’s jailed executives?
Do these artistic commentaries give us a window into the soul of business, or simply a superficial view of its popular mask?
Whichever way you see it, these highly visual, evocative and stimulating illustrations all have something to say about the role of business in society, especially its contribution to (or violation of) the public good.
All the current debates around environmental responsibility in the face of climate change and ecological destruction, or trade justice in the context of persistent poverty for the majority of the world’s population, are brought into sharp, colourful focus by the arts.
And the picture they conjure is not always negative.
The creativity of the arts has often been used in business to encourage innovation, motivation and responsibility, whether it is the use of industrial theatre for AIDS awareness in South Africa, or Haiku poetry in leadership workshops in the UK.
And after all, what can be more creative than the advertising industry itself?
The power of using the arts as a lens through which to view business is that we get an insight into the psyche of the modern corporation.
We tap into the mood of the public and their often unspoken fears and prejudices about business.
And we also begin to see business for what it really is – a deeply human enterprise, with all the foibles and potential which that implies.
Hence, the art of business is, if anything, the art of being human:
An eternal stage for playing out so many of our most familiar dilemmas –
The struggle between head and heart, between ambition and morality, ego and altruism, self-fulfilment and service to others.
And the art, as opposed to the science or economics, of business, is to find beauty, truth, and yes, even love, in the creative process that is enterprise.
Wayne Visser © 2002
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