Book Review: The Heart Aroused

The Heart Aroused by David Whyte was first published in 1994. If I had read it twenty years ago, it might had influenced me to take another path in my work life? Or, maybe I needed the experience acquired during those twenty years to really appreciate the book? It’s a wonderful book. David Whyte eloquently addresses the split between our work lives and the part of ourselves (our souls) which are forced underground in the corporate world. This is the split between what is nourishing and what is agonizing at work. David Whyte offers the poet’s perspective on this chasm. He writes about inviting the soul to work, power and vulnerability in the workplace, grounded creativity, speaking out, innocence and experience, the soul at midlife, facing what is sweet and terrible, and ecological imagination. His language is colorful and multidimensional, yet strangely precise. It’s a very well-written book which arouses the heart! I give it my heartfelt recommendations!

Below are some quotes from the book:

By definition, soul evades the cage of definition. It is the indefinable essence of a person’s spirit and being.

Looking over the vast amount of management literature, very few authors are willing to take the soul seriously in the workplace.

I have tried to illuminate … the forces that work for and against an individual who asks for more commitment and passion in his work.

… we live in an unfathomable, shape-shifting world that must be lived and experienced rather than controlled or solved …

Preservation of the soul means the preservation at work of humanity and sanity …

Above all, preserving the soul means preserving a desire to live a life a man or woman can truly call their own.

If work is all about doing, then the soul is all about being …

Our own path must be deciphered every step of the way.

We cannot neglect our interior fire without damaging ourselves in the process.

All things change when we do.

Some things cannot be … discovered until we have been stuck … or blown off course for a while.

… everything takes form according to the consciousness that shaped it.

It is essential … to know what is vital and alive inside us and shape our lives in its image.

The full terror of our aloneness is the force that makes us praise the meeting with others. The terror of intimacy and belonging gives us the depth and appreciation for aloneness.

Every action, … no matter how small, influences every future action, no matter how large.

Managers, being true to their title, have … the belief that everything … tends toward disorder, unless, of course, it is managed.

… it is hard to put our heart in the work when most of what we feel is stress.

Without … rules … a cohesive team with a strong sense of its mission … can be allowed a lot of leeway to develop its own approach …

There is … tremendous natural ”beauty” in an organization that allows people to bloom and grow …

The soul bereft of meaningful experience begins to engineer its escape from the structures holding it in check, by dying to itself.

Trying to run complex companies … by … command, from the top down, may be the single most unnecessary burden carried by any … manager.

Stop treating people as if they are dangerous vehicles about to spin out of control unless you are constantly applying the brakes.

We are not our job descriptions, and the small, confining prisons those descriptions have made for us.

We have been handed an accepted work world in which the things that really matter in human life have been pushed to the margins …

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