Before you start a company, read a poem. Founding a company is a Herculean task in which you must envision possibilities, deal with ambiguities, disrupt conventional wisdom, and even question ambition.
The poet, like the entrepreneur, must wrestle with all of these things when he or she is trying to create a “product” by wrapping words, cobbling clauses, and sewing sentences.
Reading poetry can better prepare entrepreneurs for Robert Frost’s road “less traveled by,” and here are three ways how: First, poetry can make you more comfortable with ambiguity. In her revelatory book What Poetry Brings to Business, Clare Morgan cites a Stanford study that finds those who read poetry come up with more hypotheses and alternative meanings than those who read prose. Consider these lines from Helena Goldbaum’s 1941 poem “Fellow Stockholders”:
The profits are all dreams: castles, embraces;
A flawless speedboat on the holiday.
It’s unclear whether the poet is celebrating, questioning, reflecting upon, or casting doubt on profits. We all dream of earnings, but they can also disappear like a speedboat over the horizon. There is no right interpretation — just more questions. “I would like to beg you…to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a foreign language. Don’t search for answers…Live the questions now,” wrote Rainer Maria Rilke in his Letters to a Young Poet in 1913.
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