the blog Synergy

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The symbolic force of words

I have read an excellent quote from my friend Walter. He lives in Shanghai and in his blog he tells many of his everyday experiences with chinese people. Some of these experiences reflect the particular wisdom of their millenary culture. A perfect example of it can be the advice of a man to a child on how to read a text:

First, study the characters, then the words, and finnally, the sentences; after that, you will be able to read and understand Confucio.

I like it because it reflects on the fact that human communication is not just a problem of information transference. Our words bear a poetic purpose, as important as the communicational value of them. That´s why I like recovering poetry for management and for leadership. I would like to explain this with a brief example. Let´s take an story from an old storyteller, Stesichorus, whose fables set the example and values for the Greeks of his time.

A horse had a meadow to himself. When a stag came and quite damaged the pasture, the horse, wanting to avenge himself on the stag, asked a man if he could help him get vengeance on the stag. The man said he could, if the horse were to take a briddle and he himself were to mount on him holding javelins. When the horse agreed and the man mounted, instead of getting vengeance the horse found himself a slave to the man.

"Thus you too", said Stesichorus, "Look out, lest while wishing vengeance on your enemies you suffer the same thing as the horse".

I think western way of thinking, educating and talking has let aside the beautiful side of words. A beauty that is not a passive quality but a fuze for action.


  • At 4:17 AM, Blogger Rocky said…

    Interesting. I think that is true, we often lose the story in the words. The horse could not see the disaster in the outcome due to being blinded by his sense of justice and went headlong into a bad situation. I think the lesson is to slow down and understand the full story not just the words.


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