Innovative Ways that Inspire Human Flourishing for All

When did you last come away from an experience that had such an impact on you that you were filled with a joy and a hope that transformed you?  You witnessed human flourishing and unity with others. You felt inspired by the conversations and connections. You felt alive and energized. You experienced a sense of wholeness, oneness and community cursing through your body and a peace and infinite hope for what else is possible.

I am filled with gratitude that I just came away from such an experience.  The event was the Fourth Global Forum held at The Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit, at Weatherhead School of Managemhuman flourishing - diversityent at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH.   Over 300 people were tasked to Discover Flourishing Enterprise: The Key to Great Performance.   We came from 29 different countries by invitation, from free will, to contribute our minds, our hearts, our skills, our knowledge.  We were curious and open and hopeful.  We shared stories, dreams and aspirations.

Diversity underpins Human Flourishing

We were a hugely diverse gathering of people: business owners, leaders and entrepreneurs, multi-millionaires and start-ups; professors and students; octogenarians and millennials; of spiritual traditions, or none.  We honored our diversity and our shared common belief: human flourishing exists at all levels: at the individual level, organizational and whole systems level.   We shared our stories, listened and asked questions. We dreamed together about what we can bring to life. We co-created designs and prototypes of possible futures;  and we rolled up our sleeves to develop deployment plans to turn our dreams and their prototypes into action.

Business as an Agent of World Benefit

human flourishing - AI Practitioner CoverIt was my first time at a Global Forum, even though through my Appreciative Inquiry Certification at Weatherhead, I became familiar with and practiced at interviewing business leaders on the topic of Business as an Agent of World Benefit (BAWB).  For this event, I volunteered as an Appreciative Inquiry facilitator.  To my absolute delight, I was invited to co-facilitate the working group from AIM2Flourish with Professor Lindsey Godwin, my hero and dear colleague from the David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry at Champlain College in Burlington, VT.

Appreciative Inquiry in Practice

To read more stories about the transformation that seemingly unlikely partnerships are delivering in the field of human flourishing,  please check out the special edition of the AI Practitioner  a publication of almost 20 years that focuses exclusively on the applications of Appreciative Inquiry across the globe.  This is a very generous gift from the owner, Wick van der Vaart, who co-edited this edition with David Cooperrider.


human flourishing - AIM2Flourish Logo

AIM2Flourish was born out of the Third Global Forum in 2014.  Since then Roberta Baskin and Claire Summer (who as of June, 2017 now leads AIM2Flourish)  and a handful of business leaders and professors have taken the dream to made it flourish.  They have worked on an AIM2Flourish curriculum for university professors to link their students to enterprises that are not only doing well in the conventional business sense, but also doing good for their employees, their customers, the communities in which they operate, committed to human flourishing for all, including the planet.  Moreover, the really unique and cool contribution that AIM2Flourish offers its partners is to invite the participating business schools and their students to identify the enterprises whose innovations and contributions to the world are also addressing any one of the 17 the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Human Flourishing - Sustainable development goalsThe business students – the leaders of tomorrow – move beyond learning in the classroom into the field of real business.  Imagine the impact on them and the enterprises they interact with.

U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

I was human flourishing - prize trophydeeply honored to co-facilitate the AIM2Flourish working group comprising students, professors and business leaders from a number of South American countries.  This group included AIM2Flourish Prize Winners.  Their awards came from sharing the stories of the businesses who were helping to contribute to human flourishing by addressing some of SDGs.   The working group was brilliant and energized and committed to grow the AIM2Flourish mission by modeling leadership for 21st century and strengthening flourishing relationships across the plant.  I was struck with awe and filled with gratitude to watch them and hear them embrace the human flourishing - deployment planAppreciative Inquiry process with aid of their cell phones to translate English text into Spanish and then back into English to share their insights, dreams and plans.

And even though we had a language barrier, we communicated and shared delight and joy at our mutual understanding of each other.  We felt connected, united and impassioned by our shared commitment to amplifying human flourishing across the world.


Abundance of Talents, Generosity and Innovations

At this Fourth Global Forum every participant was a gift and there was an abundance of talent that spoke to our positive core of human flourishing, and wish I could name everyone, as every single person deserves credit. However, here's the line-up of outstanding keynoters and presenters, including David L Cooperrider, Chris Laszlo, Barbara Fredrickson, Tom Robinson, Jonathan Halpern, Jeff Hoffman, Shinzen Young, Jennifer Deckhard, Peter Senge, Julie Reiter, Fred Tsao.   Jon Berghoff was the masterful lead facilitator with his brilliant group of associates who made it such an outstanding event. Fun and practical improv tips were delightfully lead by Betsy Crouch and Zoe Galvez, co-founders of Improv HQ.  The talented graphic recorder was Jo Byrne,  Here is a sample of her talent.

And, I got to meet the charming Chuck Fowler, whose generosity and vision for a flourishing world started this all off.

Please, if you get the opportunity to attend the Fifth Global Forum in 2020, treat yourself to an experience that will fill you up and sustain you at many levels.  You will  enter into communion with those who care deeply about human flourishing and are actively leading positive change.

Opportunity to Hear Flourishing Voices in my Podcast Episode

There's also a podcast episode where you can hear the voices of participants at the the Fourth Global Forum:
Business Leaders, Professors and their Students Expose Flourishing Enterprises

How an Intimate Conversation can Strengthen the Collective – PS65

Episode Introduction

In this podcast episode, you will be opened – both heart and mind.  I think you will also feel the concepts expressed by Deacon Richard Manley-Tannis, through his loving choice of words, in your body.  What unfolds is that it's the intimate conversation you have with another that potentially changes you and the other, thereby strengthening humanity's collective capacity to bring about personal and social change and even transformation.

Social Media – a Space for Intimate Conversation

Intimate Conversation - Richard Manley-Tannis with black dogRichard and I first connected over Twitter several years ago discovering our shared interest in Appreciative Inquiry.  As a fun opening, we exchange our own stories of how we found each other.  Richard has been playing professionally online and active on Social Media since very early days.  Since 2013, he has held the position of Minister for Evangelism, Mission & Church Development, for the Winnipeg Presbytery, and, one of the many hats he dons in that capacity is to train lay teams about social media and evangelism with an Appreciative Inquiry lens.  Specifically, how the digital process can richly inform the relational process by connecting people, and strengthening collective energy for meaning making at many levels – such as in the realms of finance, education, politics, ideology, social change and more.  He shares stories of how care and compassion have been deeply felt by people who have only ever met online.

Stories are Foundational to Intimate Conversation

Intimate Conversation - A Deacon's Musing Blog LogoRichard's blog, A Deacon's Musing, is dense with valuable content – stories and findings from his research, fiction, poetry and images.  He's been doing this for over 10 years.  Richard undertakes in depth exploration of a vast range of topics that reflect his post modernist Christian lens.

During the show, I invite Richard to expand on a number of his posts.  The language invites exploration and curiosity.  He seeks to build generativity so that his readers grow after musing, reflecting and taking a step further: take action. He writes:

I celebrate that all human truths fail to fully appreciate a universe & reality that cannot confine the Holy. In A Deacon’s Musing, I meander & ruminates, reflect & challenge. Hopefully some of it makes sense & I invite you to ask questions, push me to clarify & listen with intention.

Paradoxically, Intimate Conversation is more Prevalent in the Secular Context than Christian Institutions.

At the time of our interview, Richard had just submitted the first draft of his PhD dissertation which he is doing with the Taos Institute and Tillburg University.  When I askedintimate conversation - older and younger man talking. about high points from his research findings, he shared that in the secular world he experiences far greater openness and willingness to share personal stories and intimacies.  His experience of practices such as Narrative Therapy and Appreciative Inquiry open people up to sacred conversations more than the traditional modernist practices of Christianity.

You will be opened up to the irony and paradox of Richard's findings:  deep, rich and generative conversations are not happening, as they might, in the Christian institutions whose mission is to spread the very values that are not always experienced in the day to day conversations among clergy and their parishioners.  What Richard seeks to do in his role through his social constructionist orientation and his post-modernist Christian lens is to bring such potentialities and energies to those who want to change the world.

A Joy

My interview with Deacon Richard Manley-Tannis was a joy to produce, and I wish you much joy in listening.

How to Connect to Richard

Richard's Blog:  A Deacon's Musing

Richard on Twitter

Richard on LinkedIn

Richard on Google+

Richard on Facebook

Samples of Richard Writings

Appreciative Leadership and Church Leadership

Intentional Community: Moving from Monologue to Dialogue

A Deacon’s Musing|Solidarity – by Richard Manley-Tannis

Our Addiction to Violence Conflict and the Johannine Community

Spirited Reflection: White privilege & lament

Greek Arbitration: Homer to Classical Athens

Faith Based Mediation: A Discussion

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


Listen on Google Play Music

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.

How to Stimulate Connection with Curiosity and Appreciation

International Podcast Day

Valuing Curiosity and Appreciation was the title of my session during the 30 hour live-streaming event on International Podcast Day 2016.   Seventy two podcasters from sixteen countries were represented over the 30+ hour live video event.  

I was deeply honored to be invited by two amazingly generous and committed individuals, David Lee and Steve Lee of International Podcast Day .  In the video below you will hear how I was lucky enough to be invited.  I put it down to serendipity – being in the right place at the right time – and that place was Twitter.  I don't hang out every day on Twitter, but this day I did and when the opportunity was presented, I seized it.   It was so much fun for me.  I hope my message will impact my podcaster colleagues and their audiences way into the future.

An Affirmative Question Shifts Energy and a Curious State Invites Appreciative Inquiry

In the video, you'll learn more about Positivity Strategist Podcast. The show is an interview format where I talk with people who are positive change agents in all areas of life.   Its purpose to provide a platform to showcase the work of those who are innovating social change and who serve as an inspiration to all.  My hope is to  inject a good dose of optimism and possibility into our lives. It seeks to marry the ideal with the practical.

During the video, I talk about the transformational change methodology, Appreciative Inquiry that informs my approach, providing me with a framework to stimulate connection in the most generative way.  Story telling and valuing oneself and others is key to deepening connection and strengthening relationships.  It is my experience that when you come from curiosity and appreciation, you really do stimulate connection whatever the situation and, as a podcaster, I would suggest those two states are essential for building rapport and serving yourself, your guests and your audience.

Curiosity as a State

Think back to a time when you were curious; and when you remember that time, it most likely aroused in you feelings of  mystery, adventure,  novelty,  anticipation, hope, possibility.   I expect your attention was focused, and you experienced a heightened sense of  alertness and aliveness. Some of you may have to think back to childhood, as that's when living in a state of curiosity is almost the default.

How about the State of Appreciation?

Now remember a time when you experienced appreciation.  Were you the giver of appreciation because you showed appreciation to someone else; or, were you the receiver of appreciation, because someone showed appreciation to you?   How did appreciation make you feel – about yourself and about the other?  I expect both situations made you feel good because you were able to stimulate connection at a different level.  Not only did you and that other person feel good, I bet others around who observed it also felt positively impacted.  If you want to see this in action, you may enjoy my TEDx talk.  There is something magical about the reciprocal nature of the act of appreciation.

Positive Emotional States Stimulate Connection

If you're not convinced that experiencing positive emotional states do bring out the best in us, try a little curiosity and/or appreciation when you next have the opportunity to be in conversation with someone.

Recently, during a Town Hall debate, the two debaters were antagonist the entire time.   The final question:

… regardless of the current rhetoric, would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?

That question was a state changer, and for a short time, we witnessed a shift in energy, we might say it served to stimulate connection, and as an observer, I felt a positive possibility, and I suspect it impacted others in the same way.

If you believe a good dose of positivity can serve you, please subscribe to Positivity Strategist Podcast to listen in to stories of people who are positively impacting the world.  You will be inspired.



How Positive Language will Improve Your Life

As the Saying Goes

“Stick and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you.”


That's what my mother would say, whenever, as a very young girl, I was hurt by my friends when they suddenly turned into short-term enemies and called me nasty, horrible names.

At a sophisticated level, that favorite expression of my mother's is very true.  Listening to negative language does not improve your life.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” 

a famous quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, is in the same vein.

Develop your Perceptual Repertoire

Yet, words do hurt us, and shape us, and inform our self-image and shape our beliefs.  It's not until we're grown up that we can begin to develop our perceptual repertoire to begin to improve our life.  We learn that we can shift our perceptions of ourselves and our world and even eliminate hurt and negativity, and at the same time rewire our brain for good, and potentially improve our life.

Let me share a very personal story. It’s about my oldest and dearest friend, whom I’ll call Jenny, for confidentiality purposes. Jenny’s a nurse, a wife, an animal lover.  I love her deeply and even though we’ve had some challenges over the years, particularly the earlier years, now, as maturing adults, we are here for each other.  However, for around 15 years, I equated my best friend with gloom and doom!


The amount of distrust, insecurity, negativity and self-dislike was partly due to her fear of disappointing people and anxiety that she’d be criticized. Feelings of not being good enough all added up to self-sabotage. For a long time, changing her self-belief and behaviors was not even a consideration. It’s just who she was and she was okay with the self-inflicted pain and misery. She was not open to recognize there were other options.

That fear and anxiety were real for her, yet they were of own creation, and what she co-created in relationship with others. The neurons in her brain were not open to connect with others who were trying to extend the love and understanding they were wanting to communicate. She was not open to listening to others or feeling heard.

We See the World just as We Describe it

I tell her story, not because I like it, and she’s long since moved on with help and support, but that’s the story she lived at the time and she believed her, she had me believe her, and the world performed just as she described and expected it would. And that’s the truth!

It’s just how we talk about stuff, what we believe and the words we use to talk about ourselves, our families and friends and colleagues, bosses, companies, industry, politicians and countries that reveal how we see the world.  It’s how we show up in the world and how the world shows up to and for us.

You know, it’s not:  we describe the world we see.  It’s we SEE the world we describe.

I’m not saying that tragedies don’t befall us, financial crises don’t happen, natural disasters don’t happen, illnesses and death don’t occur – we don’t chose them, and they change us. What I am saying is: It’s how we chose to respond that counts and you know that. Be careful of what you focus on, because what we focus on grows. You know they say, be careful what you wish for.

Improve Your Life

So a lesson here, when you want to create positive changes to improve your life, a great start point is to pay attention to how you talk to yourself, and ask yourself where those words come from? Who are the narrators in your head that highjack your better intentions.

Think back to my friend, Jenny. Is life a battle to be fought or a mystery to be embraced? How deeply programmed are you to focus on the problem side of life Vs the developmental side of life? Those of you with children – do you see them as problem children or developing children? How do their teachers see them? In your workplaces, how do you see your co-workers and leaders? It is all embedded in the beliefs you have that are reinforced through your language.

It’s helpful to reflect on how your mind is shaped by the descriptions you use about yourself and others.  I invite you to reflect on the words that describe you.  Where did those words came from?  Was it from your caregivers, your friends, your teachers?  And also, what positive language are you intentionally using to improve your life?

Heart-Centered Leadership, With Susan Steinbrecher – PS025

Heart-Centered Leadership Episode Overview

Susan Steinbrecker, Author of Heart Centered LeadershipHeart-centered leadership has come mainstream – it’s not just a trend but a necessity for organizations to flourish in our fast-paced complex world.  Two authors Susan Steinbrecher and Robyn Stratton-Berkessel talk about what happens when we embrace heart-centered leadership.  People respond better in all kinds of ways and organizations benefit through improved performance, increased engagement and accelerated leadership development.

Susan Steinbrecher is an executive coach, licensed mediator, professional speaker, leadership advisor, and business consultant. She is the CEO of Steinbrecher and Associates in Hurst, Texas. Susan is co-author, with Dr. Joel Bennett, of the book Heart-Centered Leadership: Lead Well, Live Well. She has authored two other books, one of which is the Amazon bestseller, KENSHO: A Modern Awakening.


Susan Steinbrecher lives heart-centered leadership in her own business and in the work she does for others as a coach, speaker, author and business advisor.  Early in her career in the hospitality industry, Susan achieved the status of general manager.  That accelerated professional growth has shaped her work today.

Heart-Centered Leadership

In our conversation, we chat about the qualities and values of heart-centered leadership being relevant in all contexts where we are called upon to be leaders – at home, in community, in sport and so on.

In the business world, the term “leader” implies the ability to demonstrate the expected textbooks skills of planning, organizing, directing, controlling, influencing, persuading, advocating a mission.  And when you add in the heart-centered qualities, you include wisdom, courage, compassion, the desire and ability to lead others with true transparency, authenticity, humility, and service.

POSITIVITY LENS for this EpisodePositivity Lens Notebook

Download Susan's suggested “positive activities” for this episode: Hint – It’s about ways to build your own heart-centered capacity.

positivity lens


Downloadble resources and tools

Enter your details for instant access to this content

Click the button below to open your activity sheet for this episode:

Emotionally Connected

A heart-centered leader is fueled with the excitement and passion to serve others. The impact on employees results in a workforce that is aligned, tuned in, highly engaged, and emotionally connected to their leader and the business. You see it repeatedly in organizations, when leaders walk around the building and know employees’ names, engaging, asking questions, inquiring about families (and knew the families), employees are committed to this leader.

Susan’s earliest experiences in the hospitality industry reinforced “The Golden Rule”: treating others as you would like to be treated. She learned quickly that you have to treat people really well for them to perform at their best.  Years later, founding Steinbrecher and Associates, this ethos is her cornerstone.  Steinbrecher’s mission is to help people be the best they possibly can be professionally and personally.

Vulnerability and Empowerment

Leaders, when they dare to show vulnerability, reveal their ‘realness” and that quality of being real and authentic is truly valued today.  Furthermore, as a leader when you give your power to others, when you empower others, you gain power. That act of empowerment is an act of trust. Leaders who can show they are real and trusting are the leaders people want to follow.

Susan shares how she invites clients and participant groups to respond to a most appreciative inquiry:

“Think back to time in your own career when you had the best boss you’ve ever had. Ask yourself, ‘What was it about this person? What did the person say or do, and as a result, what impact did this leader have on you?’”

Typical answers to the “best boss”:

“Inspired me; believed in me; empowered me; cared about me; listened to me; treated me like a whole human being; genuinely was interested in my success … And as a result, I would do anything for this leader; hope to emulate the leader’s style myself; and would be there if the leader called me in on a day I had off.”

Facilitators of Heart-Centered Leadership

Emotional Intelligence: Listen in to the show to catch some of the factors that facilitate Heart-Centered leadership. High Emotional Intelligence helps and can be learnt.  Although having a high IQ matters, statistics show that a person with a stronger EQ than IQ is likely to be a more effective leader.

Fulfillment and joy: Work alone does not always give people a sense of fulfillment and joy. This can best be seen in the younger generation, the Millennials (those born after 1980), as in our Positivity Strategist intern. These younger workers are looking for a greater sense of purpose. They want to align themselves with organizations that stand for something and matter –  organizations that are doing good for the community and environment; organizations with a truly global impact.

Hungry to make a difference: Increasing numbers of leaders who have been very successful, career-wise and financially, begin to question themselves:

“Is this all there is? I’ve given so much in my life to get to this point in my career. I have success, and I really want something more. I’m hungry to make a difference, to have a bigger impact, and to know that the work I’m doing really matters on a significant level.”

An example cited by Susan is the conscious capitalism movement, as in John Mackey’s work. Those companies who engage in conscious capitalism are going to get the best talent that’s available — conscious capitalism is aligned with Heart-Centered Leadership Principles.

7 Principles of Heart-Centered Leadership

  1. Know Thyself
  2. Know Your Impact
  3. Don’t Judge or Assume — instead, come to understand
  4. Let Go
  5. Associates Have a Choice
  6. They Need What You Need
  7. Care for the Heart

Listen to the podcast episode to hear more about the 7 Principles of Heart-Centered Leadership. Susan Steinbrecher explains each one with some detail.


Perceived Objections

We talk about some of the external factors that can be seen as obstacles to embracing Heart-Centered leadership: two of the most common being not having enough time, or the culture not being sympathetic to make such a shift.

I love Susan’s response is to the not-having-enough-time objection.  She gives these leaders 15 seconds to get over it. Listen in. It will put a big grin on your face!

Susan’s response to it-won’t-work-in-this-culture, is a flavor of  the tried and true, Stephen Covey: focus on your circle of influence and what you can control rather than the things you can’t control. (Anecdotally, when you do that exercise, it becomes incredibly revealing when you realize how much you can actually influence).

It’s an illusion that we don’t have the time or the culture won't tolerate it.  Susan elegantly reminds us that our perception is our reality, offering us a quote from Stephen Covey:

“We see the world not as it is, but as we are.”

It’s a great reminder, of Susan’s first two principles – know yourself and know your impact.  In fact, it terrific to realize we can actually influence and control all 7 principles.  We all have impact in the  world – that’s a fact.  When our impact comes from our heart – it's heart-centered – what a positive impact that is.

How You Can Connect with Susan

Books Mentioned In This Episode

Shifting from linear to holistic design

Org-chart-21-300x193Organizational cultures vary, just as human personalities vary. Many are embracing methods and tools that bring all voices to the table. Participatory, inclusive decision-making practices and use of collaborative tools and technologies, along with social media platforms to level the playing field are becoming more common, facilitating our capacity to be more experimental, productive, playful, and engaged.

Read more

TEDxNavesink Talk Inspires Action

Just Show Up

Here's a story of inspiration AND action.  The inspiration came from Tereza Nemessanyi, who gave a TEDxNavesink 2013 talk, entitled,  “Reinvention of a Suburban Mom”.  Action followed when  Joan Ellis, who was sitting in the audience that day, took in every word and went home to act on one of her big dreams to start her own blog.  It was these three little words that stuck with Joan and moved her to action


Furthermore,  Tereza outlined six actions with the playful acronym BADASS:  Bold, Aim, Data, Authentic, Social, Show up.  Joan got it. There wasn't any point in just hanging out any more because here was the inspiration she had been waiting for.

Read more

Growing into Better Relationships

Better Relationships from AuthenticityMany years ago in my first management role, in Sydney Australia, I was Account and PR Executive of a large international cosmetics corporation. It was the leading cosmetics organization in the US and in Australia.  I loved my job and took it, and, myself very seriously.  I worked hard and I felt I needed to prove myself.  I had joined the organization from outside the industry – never having worked in retail, sales or personal care industry.  That was rare in this industry.  Normal career path was you came up through the ranks or were poached from a competitor….so you get the scene.  I was from the outside and had to prove myself. 

Read more