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Happy New Haiku!

So 2016 has just rolled around. It's a time of the year when most of us reflect on the highs and lows of the year gone by and our priorities, hopes and dare I say it – resolutions (groan) – for the year ahead.

How about a new angle? Express your thoughts, hopes or insights a-la-Haiku style? Okay, what is a Haiku I hear you ask. Let’s explore…

The power of just 17 syllables

A Haiku poem, beautiful in its symmetry of rhythm and in its simplicity of just a few words, evokes so much. To stay true to the traditional Japanese format, a Haiku poem is three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second and five in the last line.

Whilst the 5:7:5 approach provides a good framework, many a good Haiku has deviated slightly. Overall, it’s the brevity and simplicity of its form that provokes imagery and thought.

Even better, a Haiku doesn’t need to rhyme, but has its own rhythm.

My first encounter

My first encounter with using Haiku, as a reflective practice, was in a professional development session taken as part of my MBA, and run by the Centre of Creative Leadership. At the end of our day of learning and engaging in some fairly off beat activities to stimulate our creative brains, the facilitator challenged us to document our key take-aways in three lines, in Haiku format. Way to go! After writing 3,000-10,000 word essays as part of my formal assessments for a couple of years, now I had to sum up my thinking in three lines!

And on the spot, just like that! Stimulating and challenging at the same time. We wrote one line and passed our first line to another person. So, in front of me was someone else’s first line, to which I needed to add a second line. Move it along on more time, so I added my final line to work completed by two other people. Then we read out our final Haiku poems. It was funny, energetic and somewhat out of our control (and comfort zone) to work with other people’s random, and sometimes very bizarre, insights.

A Haiku activity with a twist

After some thought and a bit of tweaking to the delivery, I started running a similar activity to wrap up at conferences and learning events.

Instead of passing the paper around with the lines, we each make a paper plane first (with basic instructions). This activity in itself creates energy and a sense of ‘play’ in the room. Typically, participants help each other with something most haven’t done since their childhood years. Once the paper plane is folded, I ask them to write their first line on the side of the plane. We then throw the plane around the room for someone else to catch it to add the second line. We fly the paper plane around one more time to complete the Haiku with the third line. Then we read out our final creation. This often creates a few laughs while, at the same time, captures the participants’ key take-aways from the session. To keep the energy alive after the session, I ask the audience to share their final Haiku on their workplace Enterprise Social Network (ESN), such as Yammer.

Haiku meets disruption

Perhaps one day Haiku could replace our traditional, often long-winded emails. Surely we have been primed for Haiku the economy of words in our texting and tweeting? Social media should be shaping us as Haiku masters. What a great way to articulate our short and sweet messages, and exercise our creativity at the same time! Here’s an example to get you started:

Haiku once an art

Now for self-development

Timeless as before

Now it’s all about you!

So, what's your personal HAIKU? Can you HAIKU you? And how will it change as you evolve, learn and grow? Your HAIKU of today represents you at this point in time and could prove to be an insightful development and reflective tool.

Feel free to tell your story by sharing your HAIKU, if you are willing…tweet it and tag me @LenaEmelyRoss #happynewhaiku

And...a Happy New HAIKU to you!

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