Welcome to Part 2 of our three-blog series on things you may not know about The FISH! Philosophy. Last week we revealed how Pike Place Fish Market became World Famous by focusing on “being” rather than “doing.” Here’s another little-known fact about FISH! and how it can help you at work:    

2. A poet helped ChartHouse Learning create The FISH! Philosophy.

David Whyte is a poet and author. His book, The Heart Aroused, is one of the finest ever written about finding meaning and purpose at work. David often works with companies, using poetry to help them meet their challenges. He shows how the human desires and fears that poets have explored through the ages can help us unlock the creativity and motivation we need to succeed in the 21st century.

In 1997, ChartHouse Learning’s John Christensen and Steve Lundin traveled to an island near Seattle, where David lived, to make a series of short films with him. During that time David shared many wonderful insights inspired by poetry.

During filming David talked a lot about being “wholehearted” at work. Often, he observed, we leave part of ourselves in the car when we go into work each day. The tragedy is that part we leave outside is the most courageous, “deepest” part of ourselves. What would it be like to bring all of ourselves to work? How much more could an organization achieve if it encouraged us to bring it?

When filming was done, Steve flew home. John stayed in Seattle an extra day and visited the Pike Place Market, where he saw the fishmongers in action. He was immediately hypnotized by the energy and the flying fish, but the longer he watched, the more it became obvious that selling fish is cold, exhausting work. Where did all the energy come from?

Then he remembered David Whyte’s observations about wholeheartedness. Suddenly it made sense. The fishmongers were bringing their “whole selves” to work—their personalities, their humor, their desire to make a difference, all of it. John knew instantly he must make a film about them. FISH! was the result.

How much of “you” do you bring to work each day? You may have good reasons for what you leave outside. As David says, work may have so much of you already that you have decided it can’t have “what is most precious” to you too. But how good would it feel if you did? Leaders, what would be possible if you created a culture where people felt safe to contribute more of themselves?

Next week we’ll reveal the real reason the fishmongers throw fish, and how it can help you find new solutions at work.