Jay Howell

I use artistic expression to help leaders to “awaken their genius.” As a manager and consultant to organizations for 25 years and an artist all of my life, I have found that the capacity for courageous work and genuine change lies deep within us. It can only be tapped by authentic exploration of personal gifts and shadows, examination of our life journeys, and acute attention to our relationships.

I value this self-exploration as a means to what is possible within and between human beings. It can lead to profound transformation, creativity and a holistic connection with life itself. And it can help build and sustain collaboration and community in both our personal and professional lives.

The two poems shown here are favorites of mine. “Ask Me” by William Stafford is about a serious conversation between people. Sometimes, I don’t think we know what a serious conversation is, but Bill Stafford knew. The second poem is the the lyrics from a great song: “When There’s No One Around.” It’s about what happens when people are really free to say who they are and what’s important to them — to plant themselves squarely in life, and express their truth. I like that.


Ask Me

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

~William Stafford~


When There’s No One Around

This is the song that nobody knows
I couldn’t begin to describe how it goes
But it makes me cry or laugh right out loud
The song that I sing when there’s no one around

This is the man that nobody sees
He wears my old clothes, he looks just like me
If he learned how to fly, he’d never touch down
The man that I am when there’s no one around

It’s four in the mornin’, I’m lyin’ in bed
A tape of my failures playin’ inside my head
Hard knocks and heartaches, things I don’t know
I listen and wonder where will it go

This is a glimpse of the child within’
He’s so immature but he’s still my best friend
Just one of the boys who gets lost in the crowd
The kid that I am when there’s no one around

This is the dance that I do every day
Let my feet go, wander away
Let my soul lead, follow the sound
That dance that I do when there’s no one around

It’s four in the mornin’, I’m lyin’ in bed
A tape of my failures playin’ inside my head
Hard knocks and heartaches, things I don’t know
I listen and wonder where will it go

This is the song that nobody knows
I couldn’t begin to describe how it goes
But it makes me cry or laugh right out loud
The song that I sing when there’s no one around

~Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott~