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Martin Best

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Martin Best is Director and Partner of The Corporate Theatre

Wealth must fulfil two functions.

Growth and inspiration I believe that all of us will be richer if we live each day with the certainty that we will be inspired, that we do not need to forget to look with our eyes and listen with our ears; to understand with our heads and feel with our hearts; to end the day with the surety that we have grown. This growth is not only the domain of artists, philosophers, prophets and gurus. It is fundamental to real leadership. Corporations have a practical as well as a human interest in making things better, because ‘better’ means growth in people within the enterprise, which is a basis of growth in performance and, consequently, in wealth for society. Such growth is a sign that the connection between the producer and the buyer is healthy, and with that comes the joy of achievement. I see no intrinsic conflict between inspiration and wealth creation,...
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Jasmine infusion.

Jasmine   In my window I can see through the jasmine to the blue sky of the Andaluz winter. Yesterday at tea time the sun was hot on the skin. The wind of the previous days has left me with a headache, but today the air is as still as silence itself. The morning light is making patterns on the broad leaves of a creeper whose name I can never remember. That’s what I see. How do I feel about it? Glad, and more than glad. Why do I care? Because it’s just for me, so it’s like a present. Deep breath and blow the air out through the lips, like blowing out a candle. Do this for about 3 minutes. Get the body centred in the chair, the weight of gravity on the feet, backside and hands. Feel my pulse – the beat of the heart. There is no pulse...
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The Scent of a Woman.

scent of a woman When we want to inspire others, the habits of looking, feeling and caring at what we experience will provide the best foundation, because our capacity to inspire depends on our being inspired. The mechanics of inspiring require physical energy, whether our audience be big or small. I call this energy the power of Presence. It means finding and using the combined force of breath, voice, diction and posture to shift our receptors of inspiration to a level where they become its transmitters. By using the power of Presence, looking can become the transmitter Creativity, feeling can become the transmitter Empathy and caring can become the power of Authenticity.  This lesson is often the trickiest one to learn, because the conscious application of Presence means navigating a new awareness of something that has always come naturally, and it feels uncomfortable until it becomes a habit. Nonetheless, it is the key to...
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The harder we work, the luckier we get.

Our se Our senses and our imagination are just two of the ways through which our three receptors of inspiration, Mind, Heart and Soul, work. If we practise using them willingly and regularly, other ways will open up for us. All of them will get stronger over time, and we’ll become adept at exercising them simultaneously and in balance with one another.  The fact that it results from distinct habits makes inspiration more, not less, something to wonder at. It’s said that the harder we work, the luckier we get, and in that equation there is both fact and mystery.  Paul McCartney may have written ‘Yesterday’ in half an hour, but that half hour was fed by his talent, nurtured by years of daily rehearsal and nightly performance in a Hamburg cellar. Picasso at the height of his powers could turn out a great painting in half an hour, but he would...
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Immersion into the knowledge and skills of inspiration can help a corporate person to lead themselves.

It is the purpose of a business to survive It is the purpose of a business to survive, and the received wisdom is that it can only do so by growing. Once a company reaches a certain size, though, its further growth will demand conformity. Its leaders become more a part of the corporate system than of the natural and human systems they were born into. If this is symptomatic of capitalism, as Marx pointed out it was, the living standards we expect in return for its command to grow wealth require most of us to be complicit in this conformity. Yet, and to quote Fromm again, this mode of existence ‘is insufficient to pacify the anxiety of separateness.’  Within the separateness that conformity seems to breed, I have seen how an immersion into the knowledge and skills of inspiration can help a corporate person to lead themselves, and the people they lead, with an effect that they variously...
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The ‘corporate and collective cold’ that makes our world one of transaction.

Fotolia 110650417 S In his laboratory, the theatre, Shakespeare unthrones the age-old security of Platonic ideas that had held things together for so many centuries.  But he gave some challenges to his audience, and therefore to us, and the first one was this: we are responsible for using our imagination to create the world we experience, and to create it for others to experience in turn. To be responsible is to be responsive.  His second challenge is to our human tendency to conform, which keeps us in the ‘corporate and collective cold’ that makes our world one of transaction. Shakespeare anticipated it, and Fromm describes it nicely:  Union by conformity is … calm, dictated by routine, and for this very reason is insufficient to pacify the anxiety of separateness. The incidence of alcoholism, drug addiction, compulsive sexualism, and suicide in contemporary Western society are symptoms of this relative failure of herd conformity.   Herd conformity has only one advantage: it...
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Conversation with a leader about The Corporate Theatre and its Inspirational Leadership Program – Part 3 Creativity

Fotolia 156137275 S This conversation took place over an hour on 18th January 2017. The individual is the COO of a division in a global company, and leads a team of about 100 people. He participated in several Corporate Theatre learning events in his previous company, and the purpose of this conversation was to find out how he used his learning about creativity to create an inspired culture in his new organization, and how that has contributed to its outstanding performance.   How has our work on creativity and presence helped you and your current team to inspire performance?  The Corporate Theatre gave me a model and a method (Pathos, Logos, Ethos) that I use every time I talk publicly.  Before every occasion, I always practice my breathing and diction. I watch Shakespeare videos – it’s opened up a world that was previously completely closed to me.  Where do I get my inspiration? It appears – in words, in...
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Conversation with a leader about The Corporate Theatre and its Inspirational Leadership Program – Part 2 Empathy

Fotolia 174678944 S This conversation took place over an hour on 18th January 2017. The individual is the COO of a division in a global company, and leads a team of about 100 people. He participated in several Corporate Theatre learning events in his previous company, and the purpose of this conversation was to find out how he used his learning about empathy to create an inspired culture in his new organization, and how that has contributed to its outstanding performance.  How has our work on empathy helped you and your current team to inspire performance? Well, I’m very anti-hierarchical. I don’t have the best ideas. I let people go in their own direction. I give decision making to the younger people. I always look at them as though they can do wonderful things.  We find out very quickly who will not get lost, and I feel it with great depth.  That’s really...
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Conversation with a leader about The Corporate Theatre and its Inspirational Leadership Program – Part 1 Authenticity

Fotolia 169370871 S

This conversation took place over an hour on 18th January 2017. The individual is the COO of a division in a global company, and leads a team of about 100 people. He participated in several Corporate Theatre learning events in his previous company, and the purpose of this conversation was to find out how he used his learning about authenticity from those to create an inspired culture in his new organization, and how that has contributed to its outstanding performance.

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Being Inspired.

two bods We actually can’t avoid being inspired, nor can we avoid inspiring others. Chance and our humanity will have their way: we dream our dreams; we reach out to, and love, each other; we are, when we are brave, true to our real selves, and we are inspired when we witness these things. We are moved by great music, by drama on stage and off it, and by the unselfishness of ordinary people. And ordinary people do the same for us: we have each given and received Inspiration, for it is part of being human. However, by developing our capacity to receive and give Inspiration consciously, and with courage, will and awareness, we can grow habits that can help more of us live more fully, and help each other to do the same.  We can ‘lead’ ourselves and each other to become less ordinary and more fully human. We have a...
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We live our lives as though we had another one in the bank...

Fotolia 121133524 S In our workshops we do an exercise that shows our participants how to allow a sensory, granular, event-based narrative to open up to the picture, waiting in the wings as it were, that wants to come on stage. Imagine 20 people in a large rehearsal space, empty except for easily moveable chairs. We ask them to divide into 10 pairs. Each pair takes two chairs, and they sit opposite each other so they are face to face and quite close. We then ask one person in each pair, let’s call them ‘A’, to imagine a moment in their life that animated their true self and awakened it. As soon as they are ready, we ask all the ‘A’s to describe their chosen moment to their ‘B’s. The room comes alive with murmuring as the ‘A’s begin. The ‘B’s’ role is no less vital than the ‘A’s. We have already taken...
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The Power of Imagination.

Fotolia 102342882 S Seeing with our eyes is but the first step towards bringing the power of imagination to bear on the whole picture we might be experiencing. The next step is that, by letting go of the dominance of thinking, our imagination can ‘make’ our version of what the whole picture comprises; then we are ready to ‘breathe in’ the picture through the receptors of Mind, Heart, and Soul. The picture then becomes experience; the experience infuses us, ‘as if by breathing’; and infusion leads to animation which leads, as night follows day, to Inspiration.
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The Unpredictability of Chance

Fotolia 119534772 XS   As humans with Receptors of Mind, Heart and Soul, we are bound up in the unpredictability of chance. This means that we actually can’t avoid being inspired, nor can we avoid inspiring others. We all dream our dreams; we all reach out to, and love, each other; we can, if we are brave, be true to our real selves. We are all moved by great music, by drama on stage and off it, and by the unselfishness of ordinary people. And ordinary people do the same for us: we have each given and received Inspiration, for it is part of being human. However, by developing our capacity to receive and give it consciously, and with courage, will and awareness, we can live more fully and help each other to do the same.  This, hopefully, will ‘lead’ us to become less ordinary and more human. We have a pathway to...
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The dominant mode of our existence...

Fotolia 136579599 S The dominant mode of our existence has become Transaction. Most of us have chosen, consciously or not, to be bought and sold. Our living standards are sacrosanct, our sense of entitlement to increasing wealth seems embedded in our approach to life, and we assume, wrongly, that the current model of corporate capitalism will last for ever. We are, most of us, members of the bourgeoisie, and as such complicit in the economic systems and ills that imprison us. This is out of step with Nature as a system, of which we are a part. We are out of step with ourselves. Yet, we are born to be inspired and to inspire. Inspiration is not the sole province of great public figures. Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa believed themselves called to enormous tasks and great destinies; they gave their lives in service to them, were renowned for doing so, and their...
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The Receiving and Transmitting of Inspiration

Fotolia 84095037 S   The receiving and transmitting of Inspiration is like breathing in and breathing out. Only like it, though. What I receive, or breathe in, is not just air. It is my version, or my picture, of what I experience with my five senses. It can only be my version, because ‘my’ experience is shaped by who I ‘am’. To explain what I mean, I would ask you to think of a moment when you have been with a friend to the same place at the same time, let’s say a beach on a summer’s evening. You both see the waves moving in the light of the setting sun; you both feel the warm wind on your skin; you both move your toes in the wet sand. You both smell the seaweed on the rocks, hear the sucking of the water as it moves out of the pools, and taste the...
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Inspiration lies at the core of what most of us want...

Fotolia 147547875 S “Inspiration lies at the core of what most of us want to become as people; and the lack of thoughtful, felt, and trusted Inspiration is behind many of the problems we face today. I believe Inspiration can lead us to some of the answers to the questions we grapple with, and that this ‘leading’ can help each of us ‘lead’ our own lives more fully and to greater effect. Inspiration can give us the collective intelligence we need to counteract the rise of destructive forces. Indeed, it represents a ‘different kind of force’  -  one that can ‘animate the structures that might appear after the old ones crumble." I look forward to sharing more thoughts on Inspiration, including what it really is and how to do it. Martin Best, The Corporate Theatre.
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Inspiration comes in two ways.

Fotolia 118128979 S It comes into us when we let our experience of the world enter us and awaken our full nature. And it comes out of us when we offer that awakened full nature to others. These two ways in which Inspiration comes to us and to others form a kind of equation whose ‘answer’ is equal to its ‘question’. We can call them breathing in and breathing out. We inspire, or breathe in, experiences that awaken our full nature; and we inspire, or breathe out our awakened nature, for others. Inspiration is simultaneously the most mysterious, and the most accessible, part of what we are and who we can become. Its power is unlimited and all embracing. Moreover, Inspiration is not exclusive. It is the property of each one of us, however flawed we may be.
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A Force For Connection

9180479824 dfbf5f0d60 b Mindfulness is great, but inspiration is greater. If leaders of large organisations learn to do inspiration as part of their leadership strategy, all kinds of good things will begin to happen. First, they will become themselves: if being a leader means being oneself, as Bob Goffe of the LBS remarked, then inspiration will be their fastest and most reliable route to inspiring performance.  If, as Peter Senge remarked, being a leader means becoming a human being, then inspiration, the awakening and exercising of the neurones of Pathos, Logos and Ethos will take you there. Second, they will become creative. They will learn to refashion their own language, making one that is truly their own, by learning to describe people, places and actions, the three dimensions of depth, space and time that are the basis of a picture that tells a story. Instead of looking only for rational arguments, they will...
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Surprised by Joy

DSC 0658 I’m feeling terrible today. There is no sun. Everything seems flat. The weariness engendered by lack of sleep buzzes in my head. I lift my eyes and let my sight fall on a large cypress tree out there. It lives for no other reason than to live. Its branches wave at me. At me? Or is it waving to me? At me or to me, the tips of its branches are most certainly a whiter shade of pale. If I were painting them, there’d be Chinese white in the mix, definitely. The darker parts behind those tips have brown in them. The branches move, move, move, in a wind-blown dance. The buzz of weariness disappears, or at least seems less important. The movement of the cypress tips is like a stroking hand, many stroking hands in fact, each one stroking my weariness. Somewhere inside me an emotion stirs. Gratitude. Gentleness....
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Infinite Empathy

DSC 0229 The thinker Charles Eisenstein posted last November that 'the dissolution of the old order that is now officially in progress is going to intensify.' And he suggests that this is both a huge danger and a wonderful opportunity. Let's not assume, though, that he is right about the dissolution of anything. It might be truer to say that discontinuity is speeding up in line with the increasing speed of communication. There is perhaps more reliability to be found in his assertion that 'we are entering a space between stories', and that in this place of unknowing the one thing we can rely on is Empathy. Can we, he asks, take Empathy into the political world and 'create an eye of compassion inside the political hate vortex?' My question is: can it come from the corporate world so as to infuse the political one? Our work in The Corporate Theatre has...
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