Genuine Communications: Coaching in Speaking, Moving, Imagining, and Performing

Quotes and Images

A speech by a suffragette.
A speech by a suffragette.

This page offers some quotes and images that relate to the themes of communication and performing. It is hoped that they will stimulate your thinking.

Personal Artistry/Creative Thinking
Performing Arts
Image Credits


"The task of leadership is no longer strategic management, though this will always have importance, but of creating imaginative and participative conversations that bring out the best in themselves and others."
-- David Whyte, poet/consultant, quoted in The Globe and Mail.

"Today we need to be open to ideas from the whole world – from literature, culture, stories – if we are to avoid the big pitfalls."
-- Oyvind Hushovd, CEO, Falconbridge Ltd.

"Effective 2-way communication demands that we capture both content and intent and learn to speak the languages of logic and emotion... Of the two, the language of emotion is far more motivational and powerful... This is why it is so important to listen primarily with our eyes and heart and secondarily with our ears."
-- Stephen R. Covey, Principle-Centered Leadership

"The leadership mind is spacious. It has ample room for the ambiguities of the world, for conflicting feelings, and for contradictory ideas."
-- Peter Koestenbaum, philosopher, quotation from Fast Company magazine, March 2000.

Audience riots at the opening of Hernani, a play by Victor Hugo, France 1830.
Audience riots at the opening of Hernani, a play by Victor Hugo, France 1830.

"You cannot continuously improve interdependent systems and processes until you progressively perfect interdependent, interpersonal relationships."
-- Stephen R. Covey, ibid.

"I believe that passion, caring about something, increases our ability to see clearly. If we care, we look more carefully. We are more, not less, scientific."
-- Patricia Pitcher, Artists, Craftsmen & Technocrats.

"If you are spending time doing stuff you love for people you care about, you will make more money... The person you need to choose as a manager is someone who gets fulfillment out of seeing someone else succeed."
-- David Maister, management consultant.

"Unless we develop the self-awareness and listening skills to deal with the exponential growth of information, life will only get more harried, more out of control...Thoughtful wisdom, rather than slowing things down, is actually the accelerator for achieving the fastest speed and the greatest synergy."
-- John Dalla Costa, Working Wisdom.

"Listening and emptying [the respectful silencing of our inner voice and the releasing of distraction] requires being so fully attentive to oneself that all the personal distractions, pressures and needs are recognized and given their due. Listening with such completion is respectful to the person being heard, as well as to the self.
This is the point often neglected in corporate training programs for improving communications. Attention to the outside stimulus does not determine the quality of listening; it depends on the awareness of self that we bring to those exchanges. Emptying actually involves complete mindfulness...By knowing who we are, we can hear another for who they are. By understanding our inner strengths, issues and concerns, we can listen without imposing our own agenda. Such mindfulness frees the individual to listen without distraction and to be affected by what is fully heard."
-- John Dalla Costa, ibid.

Frontispiece to an edition of the plays of Plautus, Venice 1511.
Frontispiece to an edition of the plays of Plautus, Venice 1511.

"Through personal example, direct interaction and endless communications, the leader fosters the attitudes and spirit that a high-performance organization requires. Reduced to short phrases, the messages can sound simplistic and clichéd: your work matters; we're all on the same team; the customer pays our salaries. But brought to life by a true leader, they are uplifting and inspirational. There is no substitute for sincerity."
-- Michael Hammer, Beyond Reengineering: How the Process-Centered Organization is Changing Our Work and Our Lives.

"Just abandon the change monster. Skip the plateaus and embrace the idea of an always-changing entity where change is not threatening, just part of the job."
-- Seth Godin, Survival Is Not Enough.

"Appreciating randomness and giving it space to grow is one of the most fruitful paths to social genius. Wise companies will get excited when the unexpected begins to surface."
-- Mikela Tarlow, Digital Aboriginal: The Direction of Business Now.

"The storytellers are back. Where ideas and intellectual capital drove the information economy, pure unadulterated imagination will drive the next phase of commercial evolution."
-- Mikela Tarlow, ibid.

"Technology's life-saving and life-changing gifts only make sense when cradled by a network of human conversation, a robust conversation that forms a parallel human network just as powerful as our computer networks, holding any technology to standards of sense and meaning, ethics and personal freedom."
-- David Whyte, Crossing The Unknown Sea.

"What we have to confront in the present workplace is the reluctance to engage in conversations that really invite the creative qualities hidden deep inside each human being. It is a reluctance born of the knowledge that by inviting creativity and passion, the organization must also make room for fear and failure. There is no creativity without a sense of high stakes or a sense of potential loss, and almost always, if the risk is real, then some of those potential losses become actual ones. It is a high stakes game for the company but it is also very high stakes for the individuals playing out their life's destiny within its walls. Fear, loss, difficulty, failure; these are qualities and themes which make the conversation about creativity in the workplace real. To acknowledge the hidden part of human beings is to make a home for them and to create a loyalty beyond the bottom line, especially in the new territory of creative engagement into which the organization is now tiptoeing. In trying to engage people without these foundational qualities, we cultivate a conversation which has no heart and no affection."
-- David Whyte, ibid.

Alexander Graham Bell with telephone.
Alexander Graham Bell with telephone.

"Amid the upheaval [of the new global trading game], learning the old rules becomes less relevant; learning to break those rules is crucial. Organizations that encourage employees to rediscover wonder, curiosity and a sense of play are reaping the benefits of increased productivity and creativity. They are finding that 'zaniness' can be a strategic asset."
-- Donald G. Simpson, Director of the Banff Centre for Management, quoted in the Globe & Mail.

"A number of organizations, ranging from office furniture giant Steelcase Inc. to the intensive care unit of Children's Hospital in Halifax, are putting up 'rumour boards' to bring gossip out in the open and stimulate discussion of issues that really matter to people."
-- Donald G. Simpson, ibid.

"I no longer think that learning how to manage other people, especially subordinates, is the most important thing for executives to learn. I am teaching, above all, how to manage oneself."
-- Peter Drucker, renowned management consultant.

"The quality of work we do cannot be separated from the quality of self we manage to create."
-- John Scherer, Work and The Human Spirit.


Aware in space.

Personal Artistry/Creative Thinking

"One of Einstein's most important characteristics was that he was unafraid of time... You work on a movie. I work on a physics problem. If you're busy for a year and you haven't gotten anywhere, maybe it wasn't such a hot idea. Not Einstein. If he had an idea, that was the way he would be. That was the way he would follow. And he couldn't care less how long it took."
-- Abraham Pais, a colleague of Albert Einstein.

"Courage comes from 'coeur', the French for 'heart'. It literally means how much heart you have. Your courage is your great-heartedness. So how much heart can you bring to what you're doing? And heart often means a willingness to be open, vulnerable and fail. And if you cannot fail, if you cannot open yourself out, then much of experience is barred to you. Because half of life has to do with giving ourselves over to powers greater than ourselves and learning who we are in that light."
-- David Whyte, poet.

"You cannot run away from a weakness; you must sometimes fight it out or perish. And, if that is so, why not now, and where you stand?"
-- Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish author.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
-- Albert Einstein.

"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand."
-- Woodrow Wilson, American President.

"The man who can't dance thinks the band is no good."
-- Polish proverb

"Reflection doesn't take anything away from decisiveness, from being a person of action. In fact, it generates the inner toughness that you need to be an effective person of action – to be a leader."
-- Peter Koestenbaum, philosopher, quotation from Fast Company magazine, March 2000.

"Some people march to a different drummer and some people polka."
-- Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

Hindu dancers learn intricate movements and gestures for every part of the body.
Hindu dancers learn intricate movements and gestures for every part of the body.

"Our relationship to time has become corrupted exactly because we allow ourselves very little experience of the timeless. We speak continually of saving time, but time in its richness is most often lost to us when we are busy without relief."
-- David Whyte, Crossing The Unknown Sea.

"A more intuitive way of knowing is a direct result of the new economic landscape and the speed and density of information that we all must handle. Ordinary thought is just not fast or precise enough."
-- Mikela Tarlow, Digital Aboriginal: The Direction of Business Now.

"To stay with fear means not to escape, not to seek its cause, not to rationalize or transcend it. To stay with something means that. Like staying with looking at the moon – just look at it."
-- J. Krishnamurti, To Be Human.

"I believe that, through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us, which can mold us, but which can also be affected by us. A balance must be established between these two worlds – the one inside us and the one outside us. As a result of a constant reciprocal process, both these worlds come to form a single one. And it is this world that we must communicate."
-- Henri Cartier-Bresson, French photographer.

"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique...It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open."
-- Martha Graham, 1894-1991, American dancer and choreographer.

"The human race built most nobly when limitations were greatest and therefore when most was required of imagination in order to build at all. Limitations seem to always have been the best friends of architecture."
-- Frank Lloyd Wright, architect.


The Greek dramatist Menander with three masks.
The Greek dramatist Menander with three masks.

Performing Arts

"Be yourself! You cannot become anyone unless you become yourself first."
-- Stella Adler, acting teacher.

"I doubt myself the way everyone else does. The thing I loved about doing Hummel was this kid was inept at everything but he had this great hope and I loved him for it. I loved to show that desire."
-- Al Pacino.

"I'm always writing... but the way I mostly collaborate is with the band members, live. They'll find a riff, for instance, and I'll get behind the microphone and start developing a lyric pattern."
-- Patti Smith, singer/songwriter.

"The closest thing to acting is bullfighting or boxing. It's a matter of adjusting to the other man's blows. You're so busy adjusting it's difficult to think of anything else."
-- Anthony Quinn.

"I didn't like the play, but then I saw it under adverse conditions - the curtain was up."
-- Groucho Marx.

"The actor lives uniquely in the present; he is continually jumping from one present to the next. In the course of these successive presents he executes a series of actions which deposit upon him a sort of sweat which is nothing else but the state of emotion. This sweat is to his acting what juice is to the fruit. But once he starts perceiving and taking cognizance of his state of emotion, the sweat evaporates, the emotion disappears and the acting dries up."
-- Jean-Louis Barrault, French actor.

"Power lies in the logic, the coherence of what you are saying."
-- Constantin Stanislavsky, Russian actor and director.

"When I played a detective in Twilight Walk, I played him as a human being who just happened to be a detective... Most actors play detectives the way they've seen other actors play detectives. I like to think I don't do that kind of imitation."
-- Walter Matthau.

"The actor should not play a part. Like the Aeolian harps that used to be hung in the trees to be played only by the breeze, the actor should be an instrument played upon by the character he depicts."
-- Alla Nazimova, 1879-1945, Russian-born American actor.

An unpopular actor being pelted with fruit and vegetables, USA 1870.
An unpopular actor being pelted with fruit and vegetables, USA 1870.

"The Gods have meant
That I should dance
And by the Gods
I will."
-- Epitaph, Ruth St. Denis, U.S. dancer, choreographer and teacher.

"Every single night I'm nervous."
-- Vivien Leigh.]

"Dancing is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire."
-- George Bernard Shaw.

"My only regret in the theatre is that I could never sit out front and watch me."
-- John Barrymore, 1882-1942, U.S. actor.

"I used to watch Sir Laurence Olivier when he played Mr. Puff in The Critic. To the identical syllable, in each performance, he would take off his hat, take out the hatpin and stab the hat with the hatpin. He didn't vary a hair's breath from perfrmance to performance, yet it was always funny and always astonishing.
It occurred to me that it is possible to be a well-trained instrument, to perform as a craftsman without ever becoming ordinary, and if there is such a thing as perfection in acting, it's worthwhile living for and striving for that perfection."
-- Julie Harris, U.S actress.

The cotillion, derived from peasant dances, England 1788.
The cotillion, derived from peasant dances, England 1788.

"Whoever has seen a great actor knows that he is not an animal to be stalked in its lair but a tiger leaping out on the spectator from the bush of mediocrity."
-- James Agate, English critic.

"The actor is able to approach in himself a cosmic dread as large as his life. He is able to go from this dread to a joy so sweet that it is without limit. Only then will the actor have direct access to the life that moves in him, which is as free as his breathing. And like his breathing, he doesn't cause it to happen. He doesn't contain it and it doesn't contain him."
-- Joseph Chaikin, U.S. actor.


Image Credits

Line drawings: artist unknown, Theatre of the Bauhaus, edited by Walter Gropius.
Einstein images: from Creator and Rebel, Banesh Hoffman.
Churchill image: from Never Surrender, William Vivian Butler.
Hernani riot image: from History of the Theatre, Brockett.
Books: source unknown.
A.G. Bell: source unknown.
Plautus frontispiece, Menander with masks, unpopular actor: from History of the Theatre, Oscar G. Brockett, 1977.
Edmund Kean, woman singing, suffragette: source unknown.
Hindu dancer: photo Gerald Howson.
Cotillion: British Museum/Photo Freeman, taken from The Arts, REC.

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