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Why Strength Matters and How to Grow It

You’ll know when you're coming from your strength because you feel invigorated, productive and enterprising.  When you come from your own strengths, life is easier.

The evidence points to your ability to learn far more quickly when you come from strength; you gain greater satisfaction; you perform more easily; and you experience a desire or a yearning to perform the activity more frequently, as you feel you just have to do it.

Strength Matters – Actually We Have Many Strengths

 I’ll focus on two main bodies of research in the strengths discipline: the first in the personal development space and the second in the organization development and leadership space.  In fact, they overlap and co-mingle.  Both offer an excellent online survey that you can take to identify your own strengths.

First step is to  discover  your innate strengths (also called talents) and then you go out, use them and put them to work.  This is the key to optimizing your well-being,  your flourishing, and a happy life;  and by happy life, the emphasis is on the engagement and meaning aspects of happiness.  This kind of happiness is when you are in alignment with your purpose and are contributing in ways that bring you deep joy and satisfaction.

At work, a good indicator that you're using your strengths is when you are fully engaged in an activity, and, while it may be challenging, you feel at one with it and you lose track of time.  In that case, you're experiencing the flow state, that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's famous book, Flow, the Psychology of Optimal Experience, introduced to the world.  On the contrary, when your energy is depleted and you're either bored (because the task is too easy) or stressed (because it's too hard and not aligned with your natural strengths), you are not in that flow state.  It robs you of productivity and vitality.

But first, let me define “strengths” in the context of human and organization development with a brief overview. 

Character Strengths – Virtues in Action

I’ll start with character strengths developed by the late Chris Peterson of the University of Michigan and Martin Seligman, at University of Pennsylvania,  deemed the father of positivity psychology, and others.  

With knowledge of your character strengths, it is possible to express and develop character and be poised to better direct talents and abilities into meaningful and engaging behaviors that improve your own life and the lives of others.   

This research identified a framework of 24 character strengths that are classified into 5 broad areas of strengths, namely,

  •  cognitive
  • emotional
  • social and community
  • protective
  • spiritual

Your top five strengths in any one of these broad areas are your innate character strengths and when you work with them and bring them into all aspects of your life, you have much greater capability to live a life that engages you fully and is meaningful.  Seligman talks about the Good Life as

Using your strengths to obtain abundant gratification in the main realms of your life

You can become aware of own strengths by paying attention to the activities that absorb you, that make time fly by andStrength matters you feel they are totally occupying you in a good way, that may also be challenging, yet you just want to be doing it.

For me designing courses and facilitating and writing and speaking bring out the best in me. I get into that flow state and I am totally engaged. It’s not to say it’s not challenging, because challenge and stretching yourself is good.

 

Signature Strengths – StrengthsFinder

Around the same time in 2001, the late Don Clifton, former Chairman of Gallup  who was deemed “the father of Strengths-Based Psychology and the grandfather of Positive Psychology” shared his research of near 30 years.

He had been studying excellence in two million people, finally identifying themes that reflect natural talents, naming them signature strengths. He recommends that for success and fulfillment we

“Capitalize on strengths, whatever they may be, and manage around weaknesses, whatever they may be.”

Clifton defines strengths as

“Consistent near perfect performance in an activity . . . the ability is a strength only if you can fathom yourself doing it repeatedly, happily, and successfully.

Clifton’s findings reveal that your top five signature strengths are themes of talent and therefore are your highest potential for development, because that’s where you will find the greatest satisfaction and do what comes most naturally.

“By focusing on your top five themes, you will actually become stronger, more robust, more open to new discoveries and, importantly, more appreciative of people who possess themes very different from your own.”

Take the Surveys

I invite you to go online and take one or both of these strength surveys (listed below) to help you learn about your best attributes and where you can leverage your potential to create the changes that will lead to a more satisfying and meaningful life.

The VIA Survey

VIA stands for Virtues In Action at the website viame.org

The VIA survey is free to take.  I highly recommend it.  You receive a report describing your 24 character strengths with more detail about your top 5.  You can also purchase a range of more detailed reports.   This website is full of excellent explanations and resources.  It's a fabulous resource.

StrengthsFinder Survey

The StrengthsFinder Survey, at the website gallupstrengthscenter.com. There is a cost to take this survey , and there are a number of reports you can invest in to learn more about your signature strengths.

Personal Growth and Development Opportunities

Both surveys will help you identify your strengths, and appreciate the strength matters in a whole new, supportive way. You will come away with valuable insights and personal growth and development opportunities.  Inspired by your new found strengths, some of which you will have intuited and some may come as a surprise, you’ll become more consciously aware of your best self what energizes you so you perform with greater ease.

At the same time, you will now have greater understanding why you find yourself struggling at times and feel depleted.  When you are not in your strengths, it takes more effort, more energy and you find it harder to be in that positive state of engagement.   

How You Can Be More Energized than Depleted

You’ll  start to understand which environments stimulate you or bore you; which behaviors calm you or excite you. Over time, this adds up to a life that is efficient, effective, healthy, productive, and satisfying.

Why Strengths Based Coaching Helps Overcome Weaknesses

I bet a number of you have been coached.  If so, it is likely you are into your own development.  It's also likely you are aware of coaching to strengths is very beneficial.

Coaching is about improvement, going to the next level, achieving aspirations, identifying ways to  live to your fullest capacity and potential.  Yet, a dominant, and perhaps traditional model of coaching, has been to start from a place of lack, or deficient that focuses on eliminating weaknesses.  There is this strongly held view that we need to fix the problem before we can move into the areas of development.

The Energizing Force of Strengths Based Coaching

Strengths based coaching comes from the worldview that in every system (human and otherwise) there are also many things that already work right.  Starting from what one does well already – one's strengths – is a far more energizing way to improve quickly.  You actually go from strength to strength which helps to mitigate weaknesses.  It's not to say you don't address or deal with weaknesses.  I am saying that starting from what you do well, what gives you best outcomes personally, or amplifies your organizational capabilities offers greater leverage and takes less time than investing heavily in and struggling with weaknesses.  You also have greater willingness to deal with the weaknesses once you have elevated your best assets.

Strengthen Existing Talents

Strengths based coaching starts with what’s working well already and seeks to discover your natural strengths, talents, and preferences.  You recognize there are choice points and you tend to focus on what consumes you.  Said another way: “Where the attention goes, the energy flows.”

If you’re a leader, a parent, an educator, isn’t it your responsibility to encourage the development of others in life-nurturing ways to help them find the fullest and most satisfying ways possible and strengthen their existing talents?

I'd like to illustrate with a business story that illustrates how strengths based coaching is an extremely effective way of developing people.

Develop your Strengths to Mitigate your Weaknesses

A few years ago, I was brought in to a large professional services firm to coach seven young women who were deemed “high potential”. They were in their early 30s. This firm wanted to groom more young women to be promoted to director level and possibility partner. The business reason for this investment in coaching was to stop the high attrition rate of these young, talented women leaving the firm because they saw no real career path there. Most of the senior jobs continued to be given to men.

Each of the seven young women came to her first coaching session with her “report card” (360 performance review) from her manager, ready to point out what her weaknesses were and what her manager recommended she work on.

Respectfully, I listened and looked at the document. After what I thought was an appropriate amount of time, I put the document down, looked at her, and asked one very simple, straightforward question:

“Tell me what you’re best at?”

The response I got every time was: silence.

Experience Flow

It didn't take too long for the young woman’s demeanor to change with a physiological shift, a softening in the face, a change in eye focus and gaze, and then a smile, followed by a gentle, embarrassed laugh.  Together, we began to explore what gave her greatest joy and satisfaction.  She was able to identify when she experienced a sense of flow – when time was lost – when she experienced a sense of intrinsic reward even though the situation was challenging.  What she found most rewarding was to discover that when she experienced this sense of time just passing so fluidly, she experienced her work to be far more energizing and engaging.

Increase Productivity and Joy

In the six months' coaching that followed, each young woman went through a transformation. They all completed the VIA Character Strengths survey and put their strengths work.

They reported relationships that had been challenging become easier. They felt less stressed because they invested their efforts in their strengths and found ways to manage weaknesses, meaning they become more productive and experienced more joy in their work.

They were so happy that with this new knowledge they found they were also able begin to notice the strengths of their colleagues, bosses and staff who reported to them, so they could optimize their productivity as well by assigning tasks and responsibilities that best fit their strength profiles.

Believe me, when you really know your own strengths and integrate the words and behaviors, you become far more effective in all your relationships, your own productivity and life takes on a whole new meaning.

Interview with Kathy Becker of The Center for Appreciative Inquiry – PS039

Episode Overview

This episode is Part I of a two Part show.  Robyn Stratton-Berkessel interviews Kathy Becker. Both are Appreciative Inquiry Practitioners and professional colleagues. In Part I, Robyn interviews Kathy demonstrating the Appreciative Inquiry Discovery Interview.  In Part II, roles are reversed and Kathy interviews Robyn. We talk about our high peak experiences using the Appreciative Inquiry approach which has been used globally for almost 30 years.  Appreciative Inquiry has been called a positive revolution in change.  It seeks to inspire, mobilize, and sustain, employee engagement and collaborations.

Episode Introduction

Kathy Becker from the center for appreciative inquiryKathy Becker Kathy is the CEO/President of the Company of Experts, Inc. and is a trained Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator/Trainer.  Kathy incorporates AI into her consulting, training, and online teaching. With her background in the public and private sectors as well as a strong commitment to customer service and developing learning organizations.

Center for Appreciative Inquiry

Kathy brings real-world experience to her workshops. As founder of the Center for Appreciative Inquiry, her workshops include: Appreciative Inquiry, Equal Employment Opportunity, Diversity Hiring, Leadership, Customer Relations, Conflict Resolution, Succession Planning and Creating Change through Dialogue. Working with clients in non-profits, business, education, government, NGO’s, military and with individuals, Kathy has built solid relationships.

High Point Experience

In this Appreciative Inquiry Interview, Kathy shares her high point experience of planning, designing and facilitating a 4,500 person summit for an educational district in Georgia.  It naturally took a team of people – referred to as the “Core Team” in the interview – to plan and execute such an event.

Kathy praises the people and the process.  She explains the huge value the Core Team contributes to the overarching success of the Appreciative Inquiry summit. Right from their initial training and buy-in to the process, members of the Core Team go out of their way to make it all happen.  If hick-ups occur along they way, they find the solution with grace.

Appreciative Inquiry Discovery Interview

Below is the generic Appreciative Inquiry Interview.  We use this “template” as the opening conversation between two people to inquire into high point or peak experiences.  In this interview, the inquiry was about the high-point experience as an Appreciative Inquiry practitioner.  You can substitute this topic for your own. For example, as a leaders, as a parent, as an educator, as a team member.

When you do that, you get to the core – the positive core – of the person’s experience. And from that positive start, you continue to inquire into what else is possible.


  1. What has been a high-point experience for you as an AI practitioner, when you felt most alive, successful, and effective? Please share your story.
    • What was the situation?
    • Who was involved?
    • What happened?
    • What was the experience like for the client group and you?
    • How did you feel?
  1. Without being humble, what do you value most about yourself, your work, and how it’s organized?
  2. What are the core factors that make this work function at its best, when it feels a perfect fit for who you are, and you see how this work impacts your clients.  What are some of those impacts?
  3. What are three wishes for the future of this work for you as an AI practitioner?

Positivity Lens NotebookPOSITIVITY LENS for this Episode

Download Kathy's suggested “positive activities” for this episode: Hint- it’s about it’s about revisiting a high point experience on a topic that’s important to you.

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Part II Follows in Episode PS40

Kathy and I hope you enjoy this interview. Stay tuned, because Part II – How Appreciative Questions Work  follows next and the roles will be reversed.  Kathy will interview me, Robyn.  I share my high point experience as an Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner.

If you’d like to be notified of future episodes please sign up or subscribe to Positivity Strategist Podcast.

Links Mentioned In This Episode

Articles Mentioned In This Episode

Let's Stay Connected

It's always great to hear from you. Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
  • Leave a voice message here, and we may feature your question on an upcoming episode
  • Leave a comment on the show notes below

Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message! Here is a guide to writing a quick review, click on iTunes and Stitcher.

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If this episode was helpful or enjoyable to you,

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  • I'd love it if you can leave a quick review, on iTunes and Stitcher.

Just Listen: The Secret to Getting Through to Anyone, With Mark Goulston – PS036

Episode Overview

In this conversation, Dr. Mark Goulston, author of Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone, shares personal stories from very early on, when he was given multiple chances by people who saw the goodness in him.  Mark felt he had been touched by an angel and has devoted his life to paying it forward.  This is a beautiful conversation.  You will be touched by the heart and wisdom of my guest.

Episode Introduction

Just Listen: Secret to Getting Through to Anyone, With Mark Goulston

Mark Goulston is a business consultant, coach, speaker, former FBI hostage negotiation trainer, and psychiatrist.  Mark is the author of seven books, including Get Out of Your Own Way and co-author of Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving in. He blogs for Huffington Post and Psychology Today. He also co-hosts a weekly radio show and is featured frequently in major media, including The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Newsweek, Time, NPR, CNN, Fox News, and the TODAY show. He lives in Los Angeles. (See links to some of Mark's work at the end of this post).

Just Listen: The Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone

Just ListenMark’s impetus for the book, Just Listen came out of his clinical work as a Suicidal Prevention Therapist.  In this episode, Mark shares a personal story of a specific life-changing experience when he mirrored the feeling of his suicidal patient, Nancy.  In a moment, Mark saw the world and felt it through Nancy’s eyes.  When he reflected to Nancy his feelings: “I didn’t know it was so bad … I understand why you are going through this,” she made eye contact with Mark for the first time.  “If you can understand my situation, maybe I don’t have to kill myself.” was her response. She knew he had seen the world through her eyes.  She felt heard, she felt felt and it was that connection that enabled her to move on.

This episode contains many such heartfelt personal stories, that illustrate to us what can happen when we see the world through others’ eyes.

I am not alone in finding this book so powerful.  It reached #1 ranking in six kindle business categories at Amazon.com and #1 in China and Germany for US business books.

Mirror Neuron Gap

Neuroscience increasingly helps us understand how our brain works.  One of the discoveries are mirror neurons which are responsible for imitation, learning and empathy.

We feel the mirror neuron gap when we don’t feel heard or understood by others.  The gap occurs because we feel something in missing in our lives or our relationships.

The more you care about outside world and you conform your emotions to the needs of the outside world, a strong hunger builds up to have the world care about you.  You want to be cared for.  If it’s not reciprocated, this mirror neuron gap widens.

So, when you experience kindness in unsolicited way, you are so deeply touched, you are likely to  cry with relief because the mirror neuron gap is filled up and you feel whole.

When we feel truly heard or understood, the mirror neuron gap closes.

Be a First Class Noticer

Be a first class noticer, because when you do, you connect more deeply and begin to strengthen relationships.  This was an early lesson from Mark’s life long mentor, the late Warren Bennis.

First class noticing takes you out of yourself and your self preoccupation. Noticing things outside yourself frees you to be very present.

Focus on Customer Experience by Improving your Noticing Skills

If you or your business is in any way focused on customer experience, Mark highly recommends you become  a first class noticer.

Go out in the world notice what people are smiling and about and what frustrates them. Notice what they are noticing. Notice the customer experience.

Mark offers some excellent advice about how to improve your noticing skills.

Conversation deepeners

Mark shares some great practices to deepen conversations with all kinds of people. Listen intently to their language – how they use adverbs and adjectives, and their inflection.  In addition, watch how people invest more of themselves in the conversation with their hands and how they lean in.  Get where they are really coming from.

Diamond Rule

Do unto others as someone who loved you did unto you.

The most powerful action you can take from such a gift is to forever pay it forward!

When Mark’s experienced, at a young age, that someone cared for him deeply, stood by him in a crisis, stood up for him against the odds and stopped him from doing something foolish, his life was transformed.

Mark’s insight from this transformational experience was to honor such a kindness by paying it forward and give a “Power Thank You” to the person, if you can.  (In Mark’s case, the person who helped him transform his life has since passed on, yet Mark continues to share the story, thanking him every time he does).

The Power Thank You

There are three parts to a power thank you once you make the commitment to pay it forward.

  1. Let them know what they did specifically
  2. Acknowledge the effort it took from them – honor how much they did for you and what it took
  3. Tell them what it personally meant to you. (The deep impact on your life and what it really did it for you)

Heal the World One Conversation at a Time.

Mark’s legacy question: Why am I here and what am I here to do?

Mark’s response: To heal the world one conversation at a time.

To this end, Mark has created an initative through patreon.com to bring such awareness globally and begin to facilitate the conversations that will heal.

Moreover, Mark’s site Heartfelt Leadership has a series of videos with significant conversation with leaders who are making a difference.  You will be inspired.


PPositivity Lens NotebookOSITIVITY LENS for this Episode

Download Mark's suggested “positive activities” for this episode: Hint – It’s about paying it forward by modeling what was done to you to help you be the best you can be.

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Positivity

Mark offers his perspective on positivity:  he offers up that it is a willingness and eagerness to believe.

A skeptic is someone who is reluctant to believe – who once believed, once was positive and was disappointed.

A Cynic is someone who refuses to believe or be positive. Cynics  will only believe or be positive if they are without the fear of being disappointed or deceived ever again.

Most want to believe, to be positive, but only if it’s safe.  Mark warns:

To be only safe, you’ll end up sorry.

Links Mentioned In This Episode

Books Mentioned In This Episode


Mark's Articles/Papers

Let's Stay Connected

It's always great to hear from you. Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
  • Leave a voice message here, and we may feature your question on an upcoming episode
  • Leave a comment on the show notes below

Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message! Here is a guide to writing a quick review, click on iTunes and Stitcher.

Listen to Stitcher

Subscribe-iTunes-180x120

Subscribe Via RSS

If this episode was helpful or enjoyable to you,

  • I invite you to share it using the social media buttons on the bottom of this page.
  • I'd love it if you can leave a quick review, on iTunes and Stitcher.

Self Awareness and Values Development, With Stephan Thieringer – PS030

Positivity Strategist Podcast guest Stephan Thieringer is truly a global citizen. From his experiences as an executive and entrepreneur in hospitality, venture capital, tech startups, mergers and acquisitions, he now focuses on leadership and executive development, with a strong emphasis on radical self awareness and values development. His business tag line is “Because Building a better You is Good for Business.”

Episode Overview

Radical Self-Awareness and the process of how to arrive there is the focus of my conversation with Stephan Thieringer. It’s a personal innovation story. Stephan talks about the importance of acting versus reacting and the level of awareness that’s required around the decisions we make every day.  We are required to make choices, both personal and professional, constantly in all contexts:  communications, relationships, finances,  priority management etc.  Another piece of Stephan’s story is, in fact, the power of “our story” and how we construct it.   Does our story support us or does it lead to self sabotage, fueled by limiting or false beliefs?

Episode Introduction

Self Awareness and Values Development with Stephan ThieringerMy guest, Stephan Thieringer’s professional journey includes starts and stops in hospitality, venture capital, tech startups, mergers and acquisitions, and in global education in Australian, South East Asian and North American markets.  All these experiences have shaped him. He has been featured in business and education publications such as EduTech, Business Week, the Financial Express, the Hindu Times, NYT, Boston Globe, Times of India, the Wall Street Journal  and the Boston Business Journal.  He’s also an Adjunct Professor in the  Faculty Management & Entrepreneurship, Suffolk University – Sawyer School of Business in Boston.

Stephan has a strong and public voice for innovative thinking about the nexus of business, strategy and education, with a proven track record of making a difference.  He received the World Education Award for “visionary leadership in impacting economic development” in 2012.

Bulldog Approach

Stephan’s website is The Human Innovation Garage with a tag line “Because Building a better You is Good for business.” The featured image on his website is the bulldog.  Why?  For Stephan, the bulldog stands for

“A direct, no bull, and blatantly honest approach”

Stephan:  Bulldogs are friendly and warm, and they have and intensity – all of which is needed in our world today.

Stephan practices what he preaches. His own story reveals that one thing had become front and center to own “detriment”.  He values transparency and honesty. His personal story is one of self awareness and values development: there came a fork in the road for him.  He had to confront who he was in the world: his own values and what he stood for Vs the direction in which the company (Board) was heading.  His own integrity and values had him take a big career move.

Self-Awareness and Values Development

Stephan came to a radical self awareness about himself, his gifts, his passions, his value to the world and now makes a living out of what he loves to do.

From his own experience and learnings, he makes it his business now to help leaders (and he has a very clear definition of leadership, as distinct from management.  We have a lively conversation about that, perhaps colored by our respective European and Anglo-saxon cultural imprints).

Listen in to our conversation to find out how Stephan helps leaders and teams find what drives their businesses, focus on their own values development, and acknowledge ways they can better manage themselves and communicate more effectively, and also be able to support and inspire each other.

POSITIVITY LENS for this EpisodePositivity Lens Notebook

Download Stephan's suggested “positive activities” for this episode: Hint- it’s about evaluating and prioritizing what's important to you.

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Social Impact

Stephan talks about the need to move beyond lip service, especially when it comes to investors talking about “social impact” and the motives of investing in projects and initiatives in the developing world.  He fully appreciates the need for follow-though to make a true, sustainable difference in the world.

Stories We Tell Ourselves

As a generalization, we all believe our own bull – we get very serious and intense in defending our own worldview. We become the “unlovable” side of the bulldog!  We react or respond to situations from our habits, some of which serve and some don’t.

“Don’t you know who you think I am?” is a question Stephan bamboozles his friends with.

Humility and vulnerability are qualities which great leaders demonstrate with grace and ease. The task of leadership is to be of service and support.

Trust, Fear and Self-Sabotage

“I can’t trust other people”  scores high among the inhibitors that impede growth and values development.  Micro-managing is a detriment to good performance and developing strong relationships.

Listen to Stephan provide some tips about how you can make some positive changes that will help not only your own performance, but will ripple through relationships and business outcomes.

Truth, Clarity, Honesty

Our conversation around getting people engaged so there are few surprises provides valuable insights. When employees have awareness about their organization’s strategic direction, meaning people are valued as part of the fabric of a business, they become far more accepting of any hard decisions that have to be made – such as changes in areas that impact their own lives.

Hope for a Positive Future

People are our hope for a brighter future.  It’s encouraging to hear Stephan’s optimism about the future of business and the world.  He celebrates that we are increasingly more open and more accepting of difference.  Crowd and cloud intelligence are holding people collectively accountable.

How to Connect with Stephan Thieringer

How Love, Passion and Joy Inspire Profits, With Sue Elliott – PS014

Episode Overview – How Love, Passion and Joy Inspire Profits

Conscious Capitalism, Law of Attraction, writer, speaker, editor-in-chief of magazines and personal development coach, Sue Elliott  provides a plethora of ideas, tips and strategies to bring more love and joy into all areas of your life. You’ll be energized and uplifted by her insights and stories.

Sue Elliot PhotoHeartfelt Communicator

Sue Elliott is Founder & Chief Joy Officer at Inspire Profits Inc. Sue is a communicator.  She’s a journalist, an editor, a publisher, an entrepreneur, a personal life and business coach, a facilitator and a really gifted human being.  She shares practical processes and simple techniques that make a profound, measurable difference in people’s work (and lives), to release blocks to excellence, joy and success.

Most businesses are about relationships. And when you improve those relationships — by improving communication, clarity and collaboration — everyone wins.  Below are some of the topics Sue and I touched on during our rich conversation.

Joy, Love, Passion

If you want to be the Joy Officer of your own life, listen in to Sue.  In her own story, she’s made sure she follows her interests, joy, and passions.  As a result, she’s been attracted to people who do the same.  There is a contagion effect from people who are excited about what they do in life. They attract other people plugged into a similar energy.  People, driven by what they love, have a relentless energy.  Sue is talking about the good passion and good energy that seeks to serve in positive, life-centric, supportive ways. When you listen to the episode, Sue had some great tips to pass on for this week's “Positivity Lens” segment.


Positivity Lens NotebookPOSITIVITY LENS for this Episode

Download Sue's suggested “positive activities” for this episode: Hint: it’s about paying attention to the signals in your body; being aware of who’s running your life in the moment and listening to your own intuitive wisdom.

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Values and Purpose

Clarity around one’s values and purpose, together with a relentless pursuit of learning and growth brings an energy into places of work that unleashes collaborations and community. Furthermore, an integration of what you love to do and you can pass onto others across disciplines enables everyone to grow.

Positive and Negative Emotions

Love and positive emotions expand us and open us up to others, widen our interest,  increasing productivity and creativity. Fear and negative emotions cause us to be singularly focussed, narrowing our perspective, increasing stress, and unleashing a hormonal cocktail that sets us off in directions that are potentially life threatening if allowed to build up over time when real threat is non-existent.

Sue teaches Law of Attraction and she cites how she can help help people shift up the emotional scale from extreme negativity on the one end to extreme positivity at the other.  This work comes from the Teachings of Abraham as told through Esther and Jerry Hicks.  (Link to book below.)

Forgiveness

Trusting that we did the best we could with the resources we had at the time, or others did the best they could with the resources they had at the time is a way to forgive ourselves and others for past situations.  When we carry around old issues or grievances or grudges, it can compound resulting in negative energy that robs us of being able to redirect our precious energy and resources to more loving, joyful and productive means.  This is clearing work which can be freeing.

Leadership

We summed up best leaders as those who

  • can reframe situations so that you move in the direction of what you are wanting to produce, or the solution that will serve all (for example, moving away from conflict to building collaborations and community)
  • live in a state of inquiry Vs having the right answers
  • invite all different perspectives to increase ownership and best solutions among all stakeholders
  • recognize and appreciate vulnerability is a power and a strength
  • self-awareness is foundational to being authentic, purposeful and values-driven
  • are present and can choose who to be in the moment

Conscious Capitalism

Conscious Capitalism is a business-transforming movement launched by Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey and Kip Tindell of the Container Store.  This framework fits with Sue’s own value set and modus operandi.  Businesses that engage in Conscious Capitalism out-perform “unconscious” companies on pretty much every level, including employee engagement, productivity, profitability and financial strength.

Media

There are many forms of media. The news media tends to focus on news that feeds and strengthens our negativity bias. On the other hand, the enthusiast media focuses more on positive situation that do more good than harm.  Magazines such as hobbyist, envirnomental and self-help magazines provide ideas and strategies to help us grow, restore the environment to its natural state and serve to help people find better ways. We can potentially touch tens of thousands of people in the course of our lifetime, therefore, we have huge opportunity to make a positive difference to so many people.

Big Aspirational Topic

In closing, Sue mentioned an initiative she is involved in with a former Positivity Strategist guest Johann Gauthier and Bill Jensen called Great Workplace Declaration.  Get a sneak preview and be ready to participate in this global movement to contribute to increasing positivity in our places of work.

Links Mentioned In This Episode

Books Mentioned In This Episode:

 

 

Let's Stay Connected

It's always great to hear from you. Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
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Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message! Here is a guide to writing a quick review, click on iTunes and Stitcher.

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Appreciative Inquiry Across Contexts, Cultures and Generations with Linda Quarles – PS007

Episode Overview

Linda-Quarles, Appreciative Inquiry

Linda Quarles has a strong background in corporate america.  She has worked in Global organizations, including Microsoft, BAE systems in the areas of Organization design, strategic facilitation, organizational change management, vision casting and culture transformation.  Linda is the mother of two daughters; she has traveled extensively for personal and consulting work.

Linda and I first met about 18 months ago at BAE Systems in Arlington, VA, US where Linda was a key member of a talented team working on implementing the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Agenda across the organization.  Our project was to design and facilitate a summit for 300+ employees.  Appreciative Inquiry was the framework selected to do this important work and to ensure it was a totally different different from any of the prior conferences and symposia this organization had used in the past.

Freedom to step outside of our comfort zones

In this episode, we talk about the impact of Appreciative Inquiry in a Government Contract Defense organization with many ex-military employees, many of whom were sceptical and concerned about breaking the mould.  You can read a summary of the highlights of this summit, Freedom to step out of our comfort zones,  which shone the light on the root causes of success where D&I was already working so well, and had gone unnoticed.

Appreciative Inquiry across contexts

There’s another beautiful story of the transformational results Linda witnessed when applying Appreciative Inquiry in a school in northern China that shifted the dynamic from reluctant to joyful participation, and on the last day singing and dancing.  The teachers  came up with a plan for moving the school forward that no-one outside that context could possibly have done.  Linda stresses the value of the one-on-one “Discovery” interview, framed in an appreciative way.

The value of positivity and negativity

  • “Your attitude determines your attitude”- possibly the secret of being content in all situations, as we only have control in the moment over our own outlook or attitude.
  • There are always challenges in life:  illness, conflicts, business difficulties and failures,  loneliness, and if we can use the lens of positivity, it does help.
  • Positivity is an attitude, an optimism, hopefulness, resilience that comes from the place:  I’m choosing to look at this in a specific way – I meet people, I learn something new, or something else comes along something better yet. To have that awareness in the moment is positivity.
  • There is a value in both low moments and high moments.  Low energy is to be valued as it can be the impetus for positive change.
  • Go see the video of Apollos Hester, young high school footballer, who shows what having a positive outlook looks like after a difficult game.  Unbelievable and inspirational!

Aspirations for our children

  • The concept of servant leader – putting others ahead of yourself – and the impact of our behaviors on others is never too early to learn.
  • Relationships may need extra work to keep children aware of others outside themselves, as it's a distracted world for children with so many things competing for attention.
  • The art of story telling  has such power for us to connect in addition to all the tweetable, soundbitable snippets we have come to accept as communication.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Be sure you listen to Linda’s beautiful story of visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi with her children.  It shows how children have that appreciative eye and the gift of being in the moment.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

 

Links Mentioned in this Episode

Let's Stay Connected

It's always great to hear from you. Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
  • Leave a voice message here, and we may feature your question on an upcoming episode
  • Leave a comment on the show notes below

Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message! Here is a guide to writing a quick review, click on iTunes and Stitcher.

Listen to Stitcher

Subscribe-iTunes-180x120

Subscribe Via RSS

If this episode was helpful or enjoyable to you,

  • I invite you to share it using the social media buttons on the bottom of this page.
  • I'd love it if you can leave a quick review, on iTunes and Stitcher.

Joy in Pakistan, And Undertold Stories with Cathy Joseph – PS006

Episode Summary

Cathy JosephIn this episode, my special guest is my most wonderful friend and colleague, Cathy Joseph.  Cathy has much to share about her life with appreciative inquiry.  She has recently returned from an amazing project in Islambad, Pakistan.  Cathy shares the joy of her project in Pakistan and taunts us with the beginnings of undertold stories, and what has touched her about this work.

Cathy, is an independent consultant and trainer with a specialization in talent management and strength-based change.  

Appreciative Inquiry was Right

When Cathy first learned about Appreciative Inquiry at a professional conference, it felt right that this is how she wanted to work in corporations – bringing participatory methods allowing everyone to have a voice, to bring out the best in every one. Intuitively, this made sense.  It ran counter to the corporate culture she had been immersed in.

A High Point Story of Joy

Cathy has  many high point stories starting from doing her AI Certification at Case Western Reserve University to her most recent experience in Islamabad.  What was surprising for her among the group of trainees in Pakistan was how the dominant mindset was tied to traditional problem solving.  When they finally were able to apply the learnings and provide the AI interview experience to the kids in their pilot program at the Mashal Model School, they were astounded that the kids got it.  The children ranging from 9 to 16 embraced the interviews to share their joy of their past experiences and then to share dreams of the future.  They shared their imaginings of a peaceful world of service, verbally in Urdu and through their artwork.  Examples of their dreams of the future included:

  • Being teachers so they also could support their community and show care, just as they were experiencing from their teachers
  • Being a doctor who didn’t want to charge for services
  • Themes of togetherness, playing together, being together.  They were very inclusive in their thinking
  • One little girl drew a house with a window, because her dream was to be able to sit in a chair and see the sun through a window that she didn't yet have.

These transformational experiences for the trainees and the students were high point stories for Cathy.

What is Positivity to You?

Joy in Pakistan, And Undertold Stories with Cathy Joseph

  • A way of being, a mindset, philosophy,
  • Many parts that make up the whole
  • Fundamental knowing that things are good.  Even in moments of darkness – it is a moment.  At the end of the day, I'm going to be okay, all right.  It allows me to get through.
  • Barb Fredricksen's work on positivity –  we build up a reservoire of positivity over time which helps us

How to Deal with Negativity

Cathy’s had a lot of experience with negativity.  Negativity is a reality, just as positivity is a reality.  Learning that her perspective is also valid and she could presented it with a solid knowing was liberating for her.

  • It takes baby steps to shift the perspective from seeing only why things will not work to “yes, it’s a possibility that it may work.”
  • From a negative situation, she always has hope that something good will come out of it.  “It’s linked to positivity – as it’s my default mindset.  There are always these pieces of hope”.
  • The lens of hope and possibity can trump the fear and sense of loss.
  • The overwhelming feeling that comes from being with like-minded people who embrace the same mindset works always.
  • Focussing on something better.
  • Knowing that the languague around AI is a way to talk about, and, have credibility for her own thinking – a process and history that it works.  It’s not just being Pollyanna.

 Power of Corporations to Change the World

An advocate of CSR, a big aspirational conversation Cathy would like to be part of is that big corporations do have the power to change the world.  It is good business to do good in the world.  We need these change agents in corporations who can bring about positive change.   Appreciative Inquiry is a way to do this and help with collaborations across corporations, NGOs, governments working as change agents.

Links Mentioned in this Episode

Let's Stay Connected

It's always great to hear from you. Please connect with me to ask questions or leave comments about this episode or the podcast in general, and there are several good ways to do this:

  • Share your questions and ideas on the Podcast Feedback page
  • Leave a voice message here, and we may feature your question on an upcoming episode
  • Leave a comment on the show notes below

Help Spread the Message of Positivity!

I would be extremely appreciative if you would subscribe, rate or review our Positivity Strategist podcast. Your ratings and comments will help a lot to spread the message!

Listen to Stitcher

Subscribe-iTunes-180x120

Subscribe Via RSS

 If this episode was helpful or enjoyable to you,

  • I invite you to share it using the social media buttons on the bottom of this page.

Immersive Learning on Tablets

Ipad-shotSerendipitously, on three occasions in as many days, I have been in the presence of three 3 year olds (just love all those 3's).  Each time, I was filled up with joy watching them engage with content on their iPads.

First time, we were at dinner with a couple when their three year old pulled out the iPad, tapped into one of her favorite apps and was immediately engrossed as she tapped, swiped, dragged and, from time to time, sat up, tilted her head confidently to reflect on the objects she was engaging with.  Her fullest absorption in her iPad totally attracted the attention of older people in the restaurant,  amazed at her competence with the tablet device.

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