Arvo Pärt: Spiegel im Spiegel [appreciative inquiry #007]

[from book part 2 When the beginning starts to begin]

Jan Flameling is ‘my’ brilliant Dutch social constructionist philosopher who taught me to do philosophy (instead of trying to understand all that difficult stuff). Once in a management conference, Jan told his audience about this strange western phenomenon called “I”. There are lots of cultures and languages in which only the word ‘we’ exist. For most of the managers this was quite a new perspective. So, Jan provided the circumstances for his audience to experience that there’s more than I. He asked the attending managers to listen to a piece of music for about ten minutes. Very quiet, almost minimal music. Some of the people got nervous, others went in tears, most of them were staring, all were silent. There was only this peculiar music. One piano note every five seconds. Beautiful. Helping to come to your senses. Enabling everyone the experience of being connected to something a lot bigger than the ‘self’.

Spiegel im Spiegel is the title. Arvo Pärt the author. Playing this music is a powerful means of preparing people for a group conversation, or a meeting. Just allow these ten minutes to happen. If you are the chair, suggest three steps during the appreciation of Arvo Pärt. First, connect to your breathing, and be open for your ‘self’. Second, after a few minutes, when it feels comfortable, connect to your thoughts: what am I here to do, what are my expectations of the meeting, what else is on my mind? And third, connect to the others in the group, one by one: what is on their minds, what are their expectations, why are we here for today? During this third part, keep your eyes open and look around; connect. Music has effect on circumstances. Preparing in this way will influence the proceedings of your meeting. Very valuable, and it takes only ten minutes. The impact? A complete new athmosphere.

You may not have bought or downloaded this serene piano music yet. But perhaps, reading the above gave you already a sense of calmness. If so, this is what music can do. This is what even reading about music can do.

Consider your first upcoming meeting, in business or in private. Which music are you going to play, inviting everyone to connect before they start their conversation?


You’ve just read one of the 110 chapters of my book Appreciative Inquiries of the 3.0 Kind. Find out more (and a special pre-ordering offer) on