There is an ‘Accidental Literature for Leaders’. I call this my compilation of poems or pieces of narrative that are not intended for management education (!) but serves us well for reflection. They are cheaper than a leadership development programme. This is a beautiful poem from Constantine P. Cavafy (1883 – 1933), a Greek poet with a day job as a journalist and civil servant. Which gives hope for day jobs… It’s called ‘Walls’.
With no consideration, no pity, no shame,
they have built walls around me, thick and high.
And now I sit here feeling hopeless.
I can’t think of anything else: this fate gnaws my mind—
because I had so much to do outside.
When they were building the walls, how could I not have noticed!
But I never heard the builders, not a sound.
Imperceptibly they have closed me off from the outside world.
Leader’s action plan:
Make sure that you hear the builders.
Make sure that your people hear the builders.
Look out for walls around you that appear from nowhere.
Make sure you are not the builder that builds the walls for your people.
If it looks like a wall, make sure you can open a door and a window.
If inevitable, chose your own walls.
If it’s too late, at least paint the walls.
Tell your children about builders that build walls and make no noise.