The Poetry of Resilience: Lessons and Creative Exercises for Entrepreneurs
April is National Poetry Month, and as a lover of poetry, I am excited to share one of my favorite poetry books with you: “The Persistence of Yellow: A Book of Recipes for Life” by Monique Duval.
This collection of poignant poems offers invaluable lessons for women entrepreneurs, guiding them on a path of resilience, growth, and self-discovery.
In this newsletter, we’ll explore six transformative lessons inspired by Monique Duval’s poetic wisdom, each accompanied by creative exercises and worksheets.
Lesson 1: Embrace Independence
“He offered her the world. She said she had her own.”
As the sun rises and sets, each day a new beginning, may you find the courage to embrace your independence and follow your dreams. Be the architect of your own world, unshackled from the expectations of others. For it is within the solitude of your heart that you will find the courage to create, innovate, and transform the world around you.
Creative Exercise: Paint Your World
Gather your paintbrushes and colors, and let your heart be your guide. On a blank canvas, paint the world you wish to create for yourself, embodying your goals, dreams, and aspirations. Let each stroke tell a story of your unique journey, and may this painting serve as a reminder of the world you are creating with every step.
Lesson 2: Break Free from Societal Norms
“She decided to free herself, dance into the wind, create a new language. And birds fluttered around her, writing ‘yes’ in the sky.”
Let your dreams and passions lead you beyond the horizon, into uncharted territories, where the whispers of the heart know no bounds. Embrace your uniqueness and use it as a compass, guiding you through the swirling winds of change. For it is in the dance of defiance that you will find the freedom to create, to innovate, and to transform the world.
Creative Exercise: Field Trip to Nature
Take a journey into nature, where the whispers of the heart are free to soar. Find a place that resonates with your soul—a forest, a meadow, or a quiet corner by the water. As you sit and observe the beauty around you, contemplate the societal norms and expectations that have held you back. Reflect on how you can break free from these constraints and let your dreams take flight. Write a letter to yourself, filled with affirmations and the promise of a new language, unbound by the chains of society.
Lesson 3: Redefine Impossible
“She woke up and realized she had forgotten the definition of the word ‘impossible.’ She decided it must not have been that important.”
Let your heart be your guide as you navigate the seas of uncertainty and doubt. Redefine the boundaries of possibility, and let your dreams carry you beyond the edges of the map. For it is in the uncharted waters of hope and ambition that you will find the courage to defy the impossible.
Creative Exercise: The Impossible Collage
Gather magazines, newspapers, and any other materials that inspire you. On a large piece of paper, create a collage of images and words that embody the essence of what you once believed to be impossible. As you arrange these fragments, let your heart guide your hands, weaving a tapestry of possibility and hope. Once complete, display your collage in a place where you can see it daily, a reminder that the boundaries of possibility are only limited by your own beliefs.
Lesson 4: Seize Opportunities
“That’s the way it is with dreams. They scratch at your door…It’s still there when you open the door, smiling. Wagging its tail.”
Like wildflowers, opportunities often bloom in the most unexpected places, waiting to be nurtured and cherished. It is essential for women entrepreneurs to recognize these fleeting moments and seize them with both hands, for they may hold the key to unlocking their full potential.
Creative Exercise: Doorway of Dreams
Find a quiet space and close your eyes. Envision a door representing the opportunities that come your way. As you open the door, imagine the dreams that lie on the other side, wagging their tails and waiting for you to embrace them. Once you have a clear image, write a poem or a letter to yourself, capturing the essence of these dreams and your commitment to seize the opportunities that come your way.
Reflect on a missed opportunity from your past. Write down what you would do differently if faced with a similar opportunity in the future.
Step 1: Acknowledge missed opportunities
Step 2: Learn from past experiences
Step 3: Develop a proactive mindset to seize future opportunities
As the sun dips below the horizon, painting the sky in shades of amber and gold, let the whispers of the wind guide you to our next lesson, where you will learn to embrace resilience and adaptability.
Lesson 5: Embrace Resilience and Adaptability
“What do angels look like?…All the world’s a stage and sometimes you just gotta roll with los punches.”
In the ever-changing landscape of entrepreneurship, resilience and adaptability are the compass that guides women entrepreneurs through the storms of uncertainty. Embracing these qualities allows them to navigate challenges with grace, transforming setbacks into opportunities for growth and innovation.
Creative Exercise: Stormy Weather Sketch
Gather your drawing materials and sketch a scene that embodies resilience and adaptability in the face of adversity. Let your imagination wander, depicting the strength and grace with which you overcome challenges. Display your artwork as a reminder of your inner resilience and ability to adapt to change.
Identify a recent setback or challenge in your entrepreneurial journey. Write down three strategies you can use to overcome it and move forward.
Step 1: Recognize setbacks as opportunities for growth
Step 2: Develop coping strategies and support networks
Step 3: Implement resilience-building actions
As twilight gives way to the inky night, may the shimmering stars illuminate your path to our final lesson, where you will learn the art of reinvention.
Lesson 6: Reinvent Yourself
“Last night at Bingo, Sylvia won the last prize… ‘Learn to swim in the murkiest water, reinvent yourself,’ the mermaid said.”
In the depths of the murkiest waters, women entrepreneurs find the strength to reinvent themselves, emerging anew like the mythical phoenix. Embracing change and seeking growth, they continuously adapt and evolve, ensuring their ventures thrive amidst the ever-shifting tides of business.
Creative Exercise: Murky Waters Reflection
Find a quiet body of water—a pond, a lake, or even a puddle—and observe the reflections in its murky depths. Consider how you, too, can swim through uncertainty and reinvent yourself when faced with challenges. Capture your thoughts in a journal entry or a poem, and carry these reflections with you as you continue on your entrepreneurial journey.
Think of a time when you successfully adapted to change. Write down the steps you took to reinvent yourself and apply that learning to a current challenge.
Step 1: Acknowledge the need for change
Step 2: Identify areas for growth and improvement
Step 3: Implement actions to reinvent yourself and your business
I hope that these lessons, creative exercises, and worksheets inspired by Monique Duval’s “The Persistence of Yellow: A Book of Recipes for Life” will serve as beacons on your entrepreneurial journey, guiding you through the ebbs and flows of life. May her poetic words guide you and fill your heart with the warmth and brilliance of yellow.
In celebration of National Poetry Month, I invite you to share your favorite poetry and poets, along with the ways in which poetry has helped you on your journey. Let’s come together to cherish the words that inspire, uplift, and transform our lives.
Wishing you a month filled with poetic inspiration,
This is a book about a place that exists in each of our hearts. This is a recipe book for the soul. And just like a treasured book of family recipes, it’s your companion in finding that place where endless inspiration and serendipity come together as the right ingredients for our lives.
Cal Fussman is a New York Times bestselling author, writer-at-large for Esquire Magazine, keynote speaker, interviewing consultant, entrepreneur, and podcaster. Today on the EO Podcast, Cal reflects on the origins of his own curiosity and retells key lessons from interviews he has hosted with celebrities. Tune in to learn how to ask the right questions, what you can do to really listen, and why these skills are key to being a successful entrepreneur.