To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
[Excerpt from "In Blackwater Woods" by Mary Oliver, from American Primitive, 1983]
Last week, one of my favorite poets died. Mary Oliver, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of over 15 poetry and essay collections, devoted her life to spreading a deep appreciation of the beauty of nature. Her poems were filled with bears, geese, dogs and owls, the change of the seasons, the sun and the stars. People were hardly ever the subject of her writing, and yet her poems speak deeply to what it means to be a human being.
As someone interested in human development and, particularly, in the development of leaders, I would like to share three leadership lessons from Oliver’s work in honor of her death.