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What is an Appreciative Voice in Your World?

Your Voice is Silenced

Has there been a time in your life when you felt you lost your voice, or you had no voice, or your voice was not listened to?  Your voice was silenced. At such times, it seems your voice does not count. As a consequence of feeling discounted, there is a sense of also being invisible. You might say you feel even powerless.

I’ve felt like that in some meetings; in some face-to-face situations, with certain people, even in personal relationships, when I felt my voice didn’t matter.  My contribution wasn’t important.  My thoughts and feelings were dismissed or were patronised.

I’ve also been in conversations when I did not honor the voice of the person I was with. My behavior signaled their voice did not matter, and they, too  felt discounted, unimportant, invisible.  It happens in groups, in teams, in social gatherings.  As an example, in networking or community gatherings, the person you are speaking with has no eye contact with you and no animation in their face, until they spot someone they do want to engage with, and you're abandoned.

Being silenced can occur when you're in company and you're telling a story, then suddenly you're interrupted by a person with a story of their own because they believe they have a more interesting story that trumps yours. There is a big difference between being interested and being interesting.

While the shrill voices seem to be getting shriller, what might we offer to redress the balance and bring some of the quieter, gentler or lost voices into the conversation?

Might an Appreciative Voice be an Antidote?

I want to offer some reflections on how cultivating an appreciative voice not only strengthens you and expands your world, it also strengthens others and expands their worlds.

This topic comes to me following my participation at the AI Homecoming David Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry at Champlain College in Burlington VT, co-hosted by the Center and The Taos Institute.

Appreciative Voice - age diversityOver three days, we workshopped together. We shared stories, asked questions, inquired into each other’s experiences, listened to, and discovered a host of innovations that practitioners and researchers are bringing into, and growing the practice of Appreciative Inquiry all over the world.  We listened to voices that had been at the edge and in the center;  those that are new and young, and those that are wise and seasoned.

As we experience the worldview of Appreciative Inquiry we are able to be deeply appreciative with ourselves and each other.  Our practice is to come from “inquiry” which opens us to intimacies and vulnerabilities because we consciously create a safe space to be in conversation and contemplation with others.

What is Life Giving about Appreciative Voice?

In a nutshell, the appreciative voice seeks to include and understand .  “Appreciative” is valuing, so a voice that is appreciative comes from an intention of seeking to value what it will hear;  it continues to inquire and is curious about learning more.  An appreciative voice is present to listen respectfully.  It is grounded and spacious, and non-judging.

An appreciative voice provides safety for others to speak their truths.  It is invitational and watchful.  An appreciative voice is unhurried and patient.  It can reframe situations to be helpful and resourceful.  It is flexible.  The appreciative voice is inclusive. It acknowledges diversity and identifies opportunities to offer possibilities to hold the space for transformational shifts to emerge.

Appreciative Voice - young girls talking on beach

The appreciative voice seeks to make meaning of the world in dialogue and in relationship with others.  The appreciative voice can expand knowledge, and build potential shared understanding.

For sure, the appreciative voice helps participants develop their own thoughts and feelings in a way that helps them see themselves in new ways.

A question that lingers is:

What happens when we refrain from using our appreciative voice?

My grandmother stressed to me: “It’s better to say nothing at all that say something negative or hurtful.” And that has been my default operating system.  Yet, in our society today my sense is that by being silent is not always the most helpful way, because if we choose to keep silent and not exercise our appreciative voice, we are not serving ourselves or others, and therefore not able to make any positive difference.

In using our appreciative voice, by framing our opinions as inquiry, we open up the space for dialogue and learning, providing the opportunity for more voices to be heard.  As Mo McKenna shared in her interview:  We do no harm in asking people what’s working for them. In asking what works for them, we are using our appreciative voice and open up the possibility for building understanding.

Appreciative Voice Guided by Principles

The appreciative voice is guided by principles that result in practices.  If you're keen to learn more, please tune into my podcast, Personal Reflections on Appeciative Voice – PS72.

 

When is the Best Time to Improve Presentation Skills? – PS67

Episode Introduction

In this show, we talk about how to improve presentation skills, and, as my guest, Dustin Mathews is a truly excellent marketer, I take the opportunity to focus specifically on his gifts and talents as a marketer, business builder, coach and mentor in building a business that trains others in the art of presentation skills from nuts to bolts, even if those attending his events are already experienced public speakers.  

Episode Background

By way of background, Dustin Mathews is the co-founder of Speaking Empire – a global business that empowers leaders to communicate powerfully, unlock their fullest potential and ultimately step into their greatness in service of others. From personal experience, Speaking Empire does that in a Dustin Mathews - Improve Presentation Skillsnumber of ways, and the corner stone is the art of being able to design and deliver a powerful presentation to any given audience –  for profitable results.

I might say there are many kinds of presentations.  They come in different formats, styles, have different purposes, tones and are delivered on a variety of platforms.  If you are a consultant, trainer, speaker, author, facilitator, or coach and you’re designing and delivering presentations for stage, for classrooms, for clients, for money, for charity, because you love it or because that’s your job, Dustin Mathews has a lot to offer all of us on the topic of improving presentation skills.  His latest book,  co-authored with Dan Kennedy is .called No B.S. Guide to Powerful Presentations is now available.  Check out the link below!

Presentation Skills – How you Show Up

Dustin goes beyond the view that there are many kinds of presentations.  His perspective: everything in life is a presentation.  He goes so far as to say, it’s how you show up in life – whatever, wherever the  opportunity: in a boardroom, on the web, networking, hanging out with others says something about you and how you show up in life.

Start with the End in Mind

A great tip to improve presentation skills is to ask what's the outcome that I want to happen?  Dustin knew nothing about psychology or motivation when he started. He was into science and mathematics. However, once he started to see people taking action based on a message that resonated and invited them to take action, he became hooked on learning more about marketing and learning to do more of what worked.

Every Presentation is an Invitation Take Action

Inviting your audience to take action is a great frame to hold up to the message you are passionate about and have worked hard to bring to life.  You want to be of service and create transformation in your world, and Dustin is clear if you see lights go off in people’s head and let it pass, you are doing a disservice to you and your audience.  

What does “taking action” look like in your world ?  Might it be having your tribe volunteer some time, donate to charity, sign up to your list, buy your service,  ask for a meeting , join facebook community, subscribe to your blog, join your mastermind group?  What else?

To Improve Presentation Skills Invites a Marketing Mindset

Thinking about Improve Presentation SkillsListen into Dustin as he offers great suggestions that come from his marketing background. A presentation starts way in advance of actually delivering the presentation – what ever way you chose to deliver it – on stage, in a boardroom, on a webinar, on a conference call, in an introductory meeting.    

He suggests that you plan well in advance about what can be done prior to delivery in order to connect to your audience;  what you do during the presentation and then what you do afterwards.  Each of these steps helps in developing a stronger relationship with the audience and they become more familiar with you.  Two questions to ask yourself can help in that preparation:

  1. How can I influence?

  2. How can I have multiple touch points?

Improve Presentation Skills to Have Impact on the World

Here's another question to ask yourself:  What specialized knowledge do I have to share with the world?  If my message can help even one person and make a difference in their life, that’s the spark that makes it all worthwhile.  That’s the transformation that inspires me to do more  – to have impact on the world so I can go out and help others

Strengths and Talents

Inviting Dustin to talk about his strengths and talents brought out stories which is always the best way to get to know people more intimately and connect more deeply.   Dustin reveals there was a pattern that when he was challenged to step outside his comfort zone, it was his opportunity for greatest learning, propelling him to the next level.  This might not be an uncommon finding, yet in those uncomfortable experiences, he continues to learn more about himself.  He’s learnt that he’s driven by curiosity – he’s tenacious and when he came to discover his love of marketing, he became aware that he had moved beyond curiosity to fascination.  He was fascinated by all the different worlds and the different words people connect with.  Marketing became his passion and he’s been able to elevate that passion to include it into presentation skills trainings.

The Irresistible Offer Architecture™

Temptation to eat cake - Improve Presentation SkillsThe Irresistible Offer Architecture™ is one of Dustin’s great innovations.  Listen in to Dustin as he explains how his Irresistible Offer Architecture™ helps  shape powerful presentations that result in audiences taking action.  It’s a template which helps speakers create an offer in such a way that delivers greater value to their audiences.  In a nutshell, you don’t just limit your offer to one thing.  He teaches you to gift your audience other related tools and technologies.  These gifts could be in the form of a book, a white paper,  a checklist in your area of expertise.  Even if they never do business with you, you have given them something, 

Positive Mindset

As Dustin explains, behind the Irresistible offer is the belief that if you put more out there, you’re going to be taken care of in the long term.

In closing comments, Dustin reminds us to get into the habit of taking one small action every day as a way to grow capacity and skills and whatever else you might want to bring into your life.  With repetition, the habit gathers a momentum which grows and grows to the point where it becomes easy and life is enriched.  This is what we say in the world of Appreciative Inquiry : What you focus on, grows, so grow toward your best!

How to Connect to Dustin

Dustin's websites:  Dustin Mathews and Speaking Empire

Dustin on Twitter

Dustin on Google+ 

Dustin on Facebook

Dustin on LinkedIn

Samples of  Dustin's Writings

In Entrepreneur Magazine:

4 Ways to Make An Irresistible Offer Without Selling

6 Foolproof Methods to Fearless Public Speaking

Dustin's Latest Book

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

Being an Optimist is a Practical Pursuit – PS66

Episode Introduction – Meet David the Optimist

My guest is David the Optimist, David Mitran, from Craiova in Romania.  We talk about David’s goal of writing a book which will be a practical guide to optimism and how he plans to do the research, fund it and release to the world.  How David became a guest on my show is a fun story and we take it from there.

Episode Background

Recently, I received a message via the contact form on my website. This is what it said:

Hello Robyn

Optimist - David with IceCreamMy name is David and I’ve always been an optimist. I’ve always been unapologetic about my positive view of the world.

Recently, I've started an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. My purpose is to meet strangers from all over Europe and discover a practical formula for optimism.

I'll share the formula with the world by writing a book.

If you want to support my mission (with a donation or even a share on social media) you can do it here: http://igg.me/at/optimist-journey

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Thank you for reading my message,
David

What do you think my response might have been?  I smiled and thought what fun.  What name, It came from David the Optimist!

Being an Optimist Comes from Connection with Others

In checking out the Indiegogo link, what really spoke me were the words he had highlighted: the interaction with other people in his description of his intention and purpose of his embarking on a journey as an optimist. In his research to date, one thing became clear: to be an optimist comes from connection with others.  It’s not an event or a series of events.  It is about choosing to live a lifestyle.

That insight, that awareness was what did it for me. We are not alone in the world and we need others for our health and wellbeing, to be our best selves.  My interest was piqued. I wanted to hear more from David.

What Does Being an Optimist Really Mean for Others?

Listen in to the show to learn how David started this journey; why optimism; why the Indiegogo crowdsourcing campaign; and, find out his plans to use the funds to write a practical guide to help people decide if being an optimist is for them, and if so, how they can achieve such a state.

Optimist - lights with battery levelsWhile his own story of seeking to overcome frustrations was the catalyst that helped him identify what being an optimist is for him, that was not enough.  He wants to learn what it means for others. His is driven by learning about other people’s perspectives and find out what being an optimist means for them.

Experience is the Greatest Teacher

We talk about having the rigor and disciplines of theory and science to back up hypotheses and intuitions, and for David, personal experience and empirical data counts, as we are all unique and we respond and make sense of our worlds in different ways.  

Being confined to his home town, Craiova in Romania will not open up for him the kinds of experiences he seeks in coming up with a practical blueprint for living the life of an optimist.  His best learning to date has been application of what he has read and watched on the internet and from local people.  

I shared that in my work with Appreciative Inquiry, I design experiences to enable people to share their stories that invite respectful listening across all perspectives to deepen connection.

Open Questions that Invite Stories

David’s method is to find talented people and ask two open questions:

  1. How did you start?
  2. How much work did you put into your activity?

He then listens to their stories.

David’s premise is that talent and strength grow from putting in the hard work, the effort, the hours.  It’s about practice and repetition. He’s proven it for himself in working to overcome his personal frustrations and perceived limitations. And that’s his story.  He wants to hear the story of many others in order to come up with a practical guide for optimism.

Taking Action and Sharing with the World

Optimist, David graphicDavid has a great opportunity to put into practice his experience of being an optimist, which is all about taking action. He's walking his talk in taking up the Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign.

I was moved by David’s wisdom during our conversation.  He said afterwards he was nervous, as it was his first podcast, and you wouldn’t know it.  His authenticity came through.  

Here’s an example of David the Optimist’s  practical wisdom:

To overcome personal frustrations, I decided to be practical about those frustrations.  That is how I came to discover optimism for myself.  

By acting  on the ideas of others, by reading, observing, asking questions with the purpose of solving my frustrations, I found a way.

As I improved my life, it’s  about taking action in the direction I seek.   To change, you need to take action.

How to Connect to David

David's Indiegogo Campaign The Journey of an Optimist

David's Blog David the Optimist

David on Twitter

David on Facebook

David on Instagram

David on LinkedIn

Samples of David's Writings

Do check out his blog and the following on Amazon:


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

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.

Eleven Helpful Posts on Being Resilient

Being Resilient Seems of the Time

I’m not sure if it’s my current state of being, my generation, or the Zeitgeist tapping into our collective consciousness, because a curiosity around “resilience” just keeps coming up for me.

Being resilient as a human being, as a citizen, as a community builder and a facilitator helping others find their own resilience, I personally feel a need to dig a little deeper into what it means to be resilient and consider how one might develop the capacity.

I feel blessed, as the worldviews of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and Open Space inform who I am and what I do.  The Principles of Appreciative Inquiry and the science of positive emotions help to reframe many problems into opportunities and roadblocks into possibilities.  Open Space helps us make sense of complexity and chaos, knowing that all systems are self-organizing and out of chaos order emerges.

Paradoxes Keep us Vigilant and Open to Learning

Being Resilient - Pebble on BeachWe are living in transformational times. We’re continuously developing as human beings and our consciousness is also evolving to ever higher spheres. While history is witness to such progress, so does it also remind us that contradictions are ever present. The paradoxes serve to keep us vigilant and open to learning. Even though violence and suffering confront us in the world, our capacity to focus on possibilities and hope is equally available.

I remember as a student at Sydney University studying Marxism and Feminism in my Philosophy class, I went to my tutor deeply deeply conflicted because I truly appreciated the worldviews of these two “… isms” in my life, and, at the same time, I really enjoyed my capitalist lifestyle, wearing makeup and a bra. My tutor counseled me: being aware of the contradictions was what mattered. What decisions I make and actions I take is on me.

Overcoming Adversity

When faced with challenges, whether through personal loss, tragedy, illness or environmental factors, most of us, of healthy mind, find ways to recover and move on. We can find inspiration in the stories of others overcoming adversity to find joy, satisfaction and meaning in life despite incredible odds. You may be aware of inspiring individuals in your own circles; and there are well-known public figures, for example, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Franklin Roosevelt, Viktor Frankl, whose stories of overcoming adversity show how being resilient has been a strong factor in their flourishing.

Appreciative Inquiry Interview on “Being Resilient”

Unfortunately, we see in our neighborhoods, or on our screens conflicts, injustices, devastation, waste, and suffering that still exist in our worlds, and at the same time we see evidence of people rebuilding their lives, taking actions, forgiving, healing, rising strong with love and hope, seeing beyond the fear and despair.  [As a side, if the topic restorative narratives interests you, please take a take a look and listen to this episode of Positivity Strategist Podcast, with Roberta Baskin.  You'll find a number of online media that focus on restorative narratives to shine the light on how even in pain and suffering, there are many more beautiful stories of hope and resilience and possibility].

To experience an Appreciative Inquiry Interview on the topic of Being Resilient, open the Positivity Lens Reveal below to download the PDF.

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You will reconnect with a time when you experienced being resilient or witnessed resilience in another.  In acknowledging your own experiences, you will find strengths that will help you recognise what capacities and resources you have that will support you to build resilience for any potential set-backs.

Eleven Posts On Being Resilient

As I reflected on the quality of being resilient, I did a little research. Then I decided to share these links, with a quote from each, rather than try to summarize. May they serve you well.

  1. What is Resilience on the American Psychological Association: “Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.”
  2. The Road to Resilience published by the American Psychological Association : “Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. People commonly demonstrate resilience.”
  3. Happiness Unpacked: Positive Emotions Increase Life Satisfaction by Building Resilience by Cohn, Fredrickson et al on US National Library of Medicine “Change in resilience mediated the relation between positive emotions and increased life satisfaction, suggesting that happy people become more satisfied not simply because they feel better, but because they develop resources for living well.”
  4. Building Resilience by Martin Seligman on Harvard Business Review: “We discovered that people who don’t give up have a habit of interpreting setbacks as temporary, local, and changeable. (“It’s going away quickly; it’s just this one situation, and I can do something about it.”)
  5. Measuring Resilience: A Review of 3 Scales on Positive Psychology Program: “It is important to note that most resilience measures have been developed, researched and used in the West and when the scales are applied to the non-western population, validity and reliability issues arise.”
  6. Putting a Positive Spin on a Negative Situation by Laura Hamilton on Psychics Universe “Have you ever noticed that some people even in the face of tragedy still see something positive in the experience?”
  7. The Five Best Was to Build Resiliency by Jessie Sholl on Experience Life: “…receiving and appreciating kindness from others may be just as important as offering it up, because gratitude turns out to be an important part of resiliency…”
  8. Five Science-backed Ways to Build Resilience by Kira M. Newman on Greater Good: “Even for the relatively self-aware and emotionally adept, struggles can take us by surprise. But learning healthy ways to move through adversity—a collection of skills that researchers call resilience—can help us cope better and recover more quickly, or at least start heading in that direction.”
  9. How to Develop your Resilience on WikiHow to do anything:  “Increasing your resilience can be attained by coping healthfully with difficult emotions and situations, engaging in resilient actions, thinking resiliently, and maintaining your resilience in the long-term.”
  10. Resilience at Work by Barry Winbolt:  “The key here is that resilience is not a passive quality, but an active process. How we approach life, and everything it can throw at us, has a massive impact on our experience.”
  11. Inspiring Stories of Resilience by Chris Johnstone on Positive.News:  “What is it that helps resilience happen? For each person there may be choices they make, resources they turn to, strengths they draw upon or insights they apply.”

I'd love for you to share your story or thoughts on the topic of “being resilient” in the comments section below.

Students and Business Leaders Hook up to be a Force for Good, with Roberta Baskin – PS58

Episode Introduction

Award winning journalist, Roberta Baskin is a most distinguished guest on Positivity Strategist podcast.  Roberta has had a stellar career in investigative journalism with more than 75 journalism awards both print and TV, including prestigious Peabodys, duPont Columbia Awards, and multiple Emmys.  During this time of global reporting, there was a stirring within: a shift that has brought Roberta to where she is today, Executive Director of AIM2Flourish.

Episode Overview – Business as a Force for Good

Roberta Baskin on Force for GoodAIM2Flourish is a non-profit organization, founded at Case Western Reserve University, whose mission is to accelerate the shift to a Business for Good mindset by recognizing the positive impact of today’s business leaders, and changing the way tomorrow’s leaders are taught.  What is so exciting about AIM2Flourish is that these future business leaders get out of the classroom into businesses that are doing good and positively working towards achieving any one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with a target date of 2030.

It’s as if Roberta had been preparing for this new role during her entire journalistic career.  Her investigations, during her time as a journalist, resulted in making beer healthier, exposing sweatshops in the shoe and soccer industries, uncovering pediatric dental abuses, and succeeding in banning dangerous products.

Did You Discover Appreciative Inquiry or Did Appreciative Inquiry Discover you?

Whenever my guests come from the world of Appreciative Inquiry (AI), I invite this question: Did you discover Appreciative Inquiry, or did Appreciative Inquiry discover you.  You’ll love Roberta’s quirky answer. (She’s very playful by nature, having enjoyed her company at a number of Appreciative Inquiry gatherings).  As a recovering journalist, Roberta offers that she needed to do the AI Certification twice, because she was programmed to focus on the bad stuff in the world.  Her default mindset was conditioned to find out “what’s wrong?” in situations rather than “What’s possible?” What a 360 turn!  When she met Appreciative Inquiry thought leader, David Cooperrider, her worldview flipped, as does most people’s when they discover AI, and/or meet with Professor Cooperrider.

Restorative Narratives

It's very encouraging to hear Roberta offer examples of media organizations that are focusing on the best of humanity even in the worst of times.  Journalists who report on tragic circumstances in ways that restore hope, resilience and possibilities that lift up the human spirit to inspire us all.   Restorative narratives shine the light on how even in pain and suffering, there are beautiful stories of hope and resilience and possibility.

Examples of generative journalism can be found in Images and Voice of Hope, Constructive Journalism Project, Solutions Journalism Network, Axiom News and Huffington Post has a What's Working Section.

Changing Business Education by Changing the Story of Business

If we hold the belief that business can be a force for good, how might we change the way colleges and universities teach business skills?  Instead of the same old traditional curriculum, we might inquire into the biggest global issues facing businesses today and create innovative partnerships and experiences for students to learn actively from personal experience rather than passively through books and the internet.

Organizations who value innovation, longevity and human flourishing as strategic imperatives,  demonstrate that their financial bottom line is so interconnected with our planet’s and people’s well-being.

Developing Leaders for 21st Century

AIM2Flourish partners with professors in business schools around the world with materials to help their students research, and engage in conversations with innovative business leaders, and begin to conceive potential solutions that will not only advance business goals, but also address the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals provide such an opportunity for business students to work on real issues such as ending poverty and hunger, shifting to clean energy, controlling climate change and working for peace.  All this is possible.  Our collective conscious has awakened to our global oneness.  We are all in this together.

Being a Force for Good Benefits all Stakeholders

AIM2Flourish is the world’s first global action-learning platform showcasing business innovation that tackle some of our biggest challenges. Founded at Case Western Reserve University, business students across the globe use Appreciative Inquiry framed questions (AIM = Appreciative Inquiry Method) to search out and report on golden innovations that address the 17 UN Global Goals.

As a participating business, the benefits are many:  brand reputation; being aligned with purpose-driven students; aligning with other leaders in the social responsibility space;  recognition as a positive change agent in the world and providing solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges.

AIM2Flourish Stories and Ways to Participate

As you listen to Roberta, you will be inspired by students’ stories.  I encourage you to go to AIM2Flourish.com,  join up and participate in being a force for good.  The students and the companies that are being showcased will appreciate it and you’ll feel great about your contribution.

AIM2Flourish logo Force for GoodIf you wish to participate more actively, please reach out to Roberta. Her links are provided below.

Accept Roberta’s invitation to create your own profile on AIM2Flourish.

Contribute to the Sightings page.  Here's an opportunity to write up an innovation you are aware of that may help students explore more.

You, your family, community or organization  can become part of the global improvement movement to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 – only 14 years away.

AIM2Flourish is housed at the Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit in Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management.

Links Mentioned

Website:  AIM2Flourish

Twitter: AIM2Flourish

LinkedIn: Roberta Baskin

Facebook: AIM2Flourish

Roberta on Wikipedia

Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit

Recent Articles by Roberta

1) Huffington Post blog: Business 101: AIM2Flourish 

2) Kosmos Journal: AIM2Flourish

3) AIM2Flourish Blog 

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

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.

Ability to Dream Influences your Destiny

When it comes to bringing positive change into your life, it might start as a wish, or an aspiration, or a dream.  We know from history, some of the biggest dreamers have created the most lasting positive social changes. The ability to dream allows for anything to be possible.  Imagining a desirable future is what keeps us going,

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

– Eleanor Roosevelt

In the work I do as a change agent, whether as a coach with individuals or a consultant in a community or an organization, early in the process I seek to inspire every individual to see themselves in a new dream.

Ability to Dream

Ability to Dream Accepting we have the ability to dream big and bold, how to act on your dream is what comes next. Appreciative Inquiry, the transformation change method I teach and practice provides a beautiful framework to bring dreams to life – not only individual dreams, but also collective dreams.

Collective Dreams

Some of my most personally rewarding, professional experiences are in designing and facilitating teams or community groups to dream their future.  They may not be aware that's what they are doing at the start of an project, but as they follow the process, that's what they discover – they all have dreams of how they want their work to be, their communities to be, their worlds to be.  From a place of deep listening to one another, people discover a sense of union with each other and that there is also something larger.

Appreciative Questions

David Cooperrider is creator of the transformational change methodology, Appreciative Inquiry. Professor Cooperrider has worked with the Dalai Lama, Heads of States from all over the world and with top business leaders. He explains:

Appreciative Inquiry is a way of designing questions that allows us to dream and devise big ideas together, instead of focusing on problems.  It can quickly bring out the best in people and has been adopted by businesses worldwide.

Dream is in fact the 3rd step in the Appreciative Inquiry methodology.

As an example, in a planning session, here are some of the questions, I might invite participants to engage in:

  • What is important to you about being here today? 
  • What does this project means to you and the community?
  • How might you bring your strengths and talents to this project?
  • What opportunities exist and who will benefit?
  • What most excites you about this project?
  • What three wishes do you have for this project?

Inner Work happens before the Outer Work

These questions tap into peoples' values, their gifts and talents, their aspirations, their emotions, and their dreams (wishes).  In these conversations, people listen and learn.   As they find interdependencies, they tap into their creativity. The possibilities of being able to share a dream is more likely than they may have at first considered.  In fact, they are doing inner work while they are also committing to outer work.

 If you are interested to learn more about how I do this work, please take a look at my Services Page.

Meaningful Conversations can Transform You and Your World

Episode Introduction

In this episode, my guest is Jacqueline Botting, the founder of WiseTribe.us.  Jacqueline reached out to me after discovering Appreciative Inquiry, buying my book, Appreciative Inquiry for Collaborative Solutions: 21 Strength-Based Workshops, and engaging me to work with her fledgling non-profit startup. We have been working and playing together ever since. I invited Jacqueline to share her story of how and why she started Wisetribe.us.

Episode Overview –  Meaningful Conversations Can Transform You and Your World

For Jacqueline Botting, it starts with a personal quest to search for greater meaning in her own life. Valuing the time in which we’re living, Jacqueline’s revelation is that we are dawning on The Collaborative Age. At this time, when we are experiencing enormous cultural and technological changes, we possesses tremendous potential to enhance our collective social well-being. Through carefully designed experiences, WiseTribe connects people of diverse ages, ethnicities, and professions to share strengths, dreams, possibilities  and convert them into action-based learning projects.

Search for Meaningful Conversations and Relationships

As you listen to Jacqueline share parts of her story, you’ll become aware that meaningful conversation and relationships are the big themes in Jacqueline’s story.meaningful conversations

It was the passing of her father, or the time that led up to his death that awakened Jacqueline to the realization that a successful life, or a life well-lived, is not only about getting ahead merely in the material or professional sense.  Jacqueline discovered in conversation with her father in the last years of his life that all he really wanted was to have meaningful relationships and conversations.  

Jacqueline became aware that she was running her life to a similar script as her father:  all the trappings, material things, good career opportunities and even marriage didn’t add up to make her feel whole or complete.

Her father’s vulnerability and their deep meaningful conversations moved Jacqueline to begin to examine her own live.  The confluence of many events – perhaps synchronicities – lead her to connect to people who were often much older than she was: and she was discovering similar stories, namely, towards the end of life, what counts is having healthy, high-functioning, meaningful conversations and relationships.  

Transformative Experience

In these conversations with older people, Jacqueline was not only tapping into their wisdom, but finding her own deep wisdom. She was learning that a life not well-lived resulted in a life of emptiness, a life unfulfilled. She felt compelled to recalibrate and re-think what it means to live in a human centric world that was beyond material possessions and status.

WiseTribe

WiseTribe, the organization Jacqueline founded was born out of the idea of generations wiser together. And this is when I was brought in to help design a range of “products” to help market this concept.  Overtime, it became clear that these “products” were experiences where invited participants could share their personal stories, passions, dreams and possibilities for a wiser, human centric world, based on collective social well-being.

Discovering Appreciative Inquiry 

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) first became know to Jacqueline when when did a search for the term “collective actualization.”  She came across an article by David Cooperrider, thought leader of Appreciative Inquiry, and it was as if she had come home.  The worldview and practice of AI felt so aligned to WiseTribe’s vision and mission, she knew she had to learn more.  She wanted to create spaces and experiences for people to share the wisdom of their lives and their insights and interests to create something new.

Contrasting the Traditional Worldview with the Appreciative Worldview.

We are moving beyond personal mastery to collective mastery.  Technology has become a great enabler and democratizer.  You might like to open up the Positive Lens Reveal to read some of the distinctions between the old and the new ways of experiencing the world.  

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As you take a look at these slides, which worldview occupies most of your energy?   When we start to pay attention to our own worldview and those around us, we expand.  We are not alone in this world. We are interconnected.  The language we use creates the worlds we live into.   What if we were to consciously change our language so we together we create a new narrative.   People are not problems to be solved, but mysteries to be embraced.
meaningful conversationsmeaningful conversationsmeaningful conversations

The Experience of a WiseTribe Season 

Listen in to Jacqueline as she describes the WiseTribe Collaborative Season.  Briefly, it’s a four part experience.  The inaugural season was a partnership with Florida Atlantic University (FAU).

  1. Connect through Wisdom Exchanges
  2. Co-create in Solutionism Workshops using Design Thinking Process
  3. Collaborate among tribes over their projects
  4. Celebrate with a festival to showcase projects and learnings with artistic performances.

This four month experience is grounded in the principles and practices of Appreciative Inquiry.  Therefore stories, strengths, dreams, play, creativity, art, inspiration, heart and love, as well as commitment to being in relationship and doing good work are abundant.

We experience the value of play which unleashes imagination and spirit thereby leading to innovations that allow us to live in new ways.

Appreciations

In conclusion, I invite Jacqueline to reflect on her own strengths in bringing her vision to life.  It’s a joy to hear how clear she is about her talents.  Having been a thinking partner with Jacqueline, I am so proud to hear describe herself with such confidence and competence.  She has seized many opportunities and through her tenacity and persistence, vision and leadership, she is making a sustainable difference in people’s lives.

Finally, I was very touched when she expresses her appreciation for me and the role I have played in encouraging her and offering support and experience to achieve her dreams.  That's my talent.

It will continue to be a positive co-creative enriching experience for us both.

Connect with Jacqueline

Website: WiseTribe.us and FloridaWise.us

WiseTribe  on Twitter

Jacqueline on LinkedIn

Wisetribe on  on Facebook

WiseTribe on Instagram

Book Mentioned in the Episode


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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:

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Shifting Power – Exciting Possibilities through Appreciative Inquiry With Tim Slack – PS55

Episode Introduction

Shifting PowerMy guest, Tim Slack is filled with energy, ideas, gratitude and generosity as he talks about his experiences with Appreciative Inquiry.  You’ll hear many references to people Tim admires, and whose work, contributions and essential being have been a positive influence in his work as a  master practitioner of Appreciative Inquiry.  Tim, along with Suzanne Quinney co-founded Appreciating People. They are recognized as UK leaders in the application of the power shifting approach of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) in communities, organizations and government agencies.

Tim lives and works in Liverpool in the UK, not far from Penny Lane, of Beatles fame, and, he reports, the tourists still flock there!

Episode Overview –  Shifting Power with Appreciative Inquiry

In this episode, you will hear from Tim, how extensively and innovatively he, his partner Suzanne Quinney and their associates are applying the transformational change method of  Appreciative Inquiry (AI) in the world. In our conversation, we offer that Appreciative Inquiry is undergoing a sea change – a transformation – of its own. Tim and many other AI practitioners continually contribute to the growing number of  practical and life-changing resources, expanding upon the traditional resources of Appreciative Inquiry across the globe.  We talk about the transformative impact of AI at the individual, community and organizational levels. Tim gives examples the resources he and his team have created and the groups he’s been working with: kids in schools, surgeons and nurses in hospitals, women returning from combat in the military, curators in museums, students in universities, the homeless, LGTBQ community, clergy and members of churches and more.

Did You Discover Appreciative Inquiry or Did Appreciative Inquiry Discover you?

I like to ask my guests about their initial experience with AI because growing evidence reveals that when we have our first exposure to AI, it feels so natural to us, that it seems we have “come home” and the entire worldview, principles and practices makes perfect sense to us as a way of being and working.

Tim scored the double jackpot – he discovered his future wife, Suzanne, and AI together. It was Suzanne who introduced him to AI.  They have been co-creating and lighting up the world ever since.  Together, they embarked on a long learning journey with and about Appreciative Inquiry from some of the best teachers and practitioners.  They developed professional relationships which over time developed into strong personal friendships, collaborations and ongoing co-creations.

Influences in Appreciative Inquiry

It delighted me to hear Tim offered that my book, Appreciative Inquiry for Collaborative Solutions: 21 Strength-based Workshops was very influential in helping him see the many practical applications of AI.  He also included Jackie Kelm’s books, Appreciative Living and The Joy of Appreciative Living as examples which take AI outside of academia and big organizational development summits into small group work, day-to-day practices and personal transformation. (Links below are offered below.)

Appreciating Church – The Book

Tim shares the story about how the Appreciating Church project originated.  A range of different church communities undertook trainings in AI, but the continuity element was lacking, meaning people experienced training and it stopped there.  So Tim and his colleagues created a longer term process so that the participants had resources to be able to apply it themselves in their own communities and beyond.  The program has been getting stronger and stronger over two years and in January 2017, the book, Appreciating Church will be available. This is an exciting addition to AI's body of work.

The opening lines of the book, dating back to the 14th century, quote St. Julian de Norwich (known to be the first woman to write a  book in the English language):

And all shall be well, all shall be well… for there is a Force of love moving through the universe, that holds us fast and will never let us go.”  St. Julian de Norwich (c.a. 1342-1416)

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-6-02-50-pm

Click on the image to view a PDF outline of “Appreciating Church” – the book

Listen in to learn more about this very exciting work, what’s in the book and how it could be recontextualized to other communities.  Hint, it’s about a God of Abundance, not pain and fear or scarcity, and how we can use our strengths collectively.

With 210 people already trained across the participating churches, Tim talks about the shifts that have already occurred and the impact this work is having, as it expands.  He also pays tribute to Jane Magruder Watkins and Ralph Kelly in embarking on this work.

 

Appreciative Inquiry Resources AKA Essentials

I find it delightful to plug into Tim’s perspective.  The “resources” he continues to create for the AI community – trainers, practitioners and their clients are referred to as “essentials.” Check out the Essentials page on the Appreciating People website.   They are truly beautiful and valuable – content-wise and aesthetically.

AI – A Sea Change?

We talked about the shift that we are witnessing in the applications of AI.  The sea change lies in the acknowledgement that AI is not just about big systems and organization development.  There is a desire to find out more about “the self” and desire to apply Appreciative Inquiry for personal growth and change.  Living in times of chaos and turbulence, we are looking for resources to help us be more grounded, to give us a framework that offers us hope and possibility, enabling us to tap into our inner strengths.  AI does this.  A recent survey I conducted confirms this trend.

Journaling

The value of journaling to support the “appreciative muscle” came out of the work Suzanne Quinney had been doing with the hostel residents (Suzanne describes the power of this work in an earlier conversation I had with her.)  The questions, the inspirations, the prompts in the journals allow the person to document their thoughts, reflections, insights along their journey.  Tim has created a number of journals that are specific to different contexts.  For example, “How To Be More Awesome” for students; “Food for Thought” for people who want to strengthen their appreciative muscle. The process of journaling can help in building resilience.  Questions are drawn from Appreciative inquiry and activities from the field of Positivity Psychology, such as daily gratitude, mindfulness and wellness activities. Tim is a big advocate of multiple learning modalities, including art and humor.

Shifting Power – Ensuring all Stakeholders ARE IN

During  our conversation, one of the tools Tim mentions is the ‘ARE IN’ check-in process, created originally by Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff who created “Future Search” which was based on the original Search Conferencing Participatory Planning and Design methodology. (Open the Positivity Lens Reveal below to learn more)

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One of the challenges in bringing the whole system together to explore an organisation’s development plans is to ensure you have got the ‘right’ people there.

ARE IN could be a useful mechanism to ensure buy-in and ownership – which is a precursor to shifting power – give voice to all.

This acronym is a useful reminder when planning a large scale, whole systems change experiences.

The ARE IN tool, was developed by Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff, as part of the ‘Future Search’ methodology.

They recommend that a whole system event or process should include participants who ‘ARE IN’, i.e. those with:

A uthority to act (e.g. decision making responsibility in an organisation or community);

R esources such as contacts, time or, money;

E xpertise in the issues to be considered;

I nformation about the topic that no others have;

N eed to be involved because they will be affected by the outcome and can speak to the consequences;

This check list implies you have people in the room who can make decisions and who can ensure change is sustained beyond the planning stages. 

What is Excellence?

Tim leaves us with hints of what Appreciating People are beginning to work on – looking at excellence in surgical procedures in hospitals. He concludes by pondering if the next question we could be asking, after the seminal AI question “What’s already working well” is

“What is excellence?”

A banquet of food for thought!

Links and Mentions

Tim’s Wesbite: Appreciating People

Tim’s email: Tim Slack  tim@appreciatingpeople.co.uk

Tim’s Blog Posts: News from Appreciating People

Tim’s Twitter: @AppreciatingPeople

Tim’s LinkedIn:  Tim Slack

Interview with Suzanne Quinney: Social Innovations by Appreciating People, with Suzanne Quinney

Interview with Jackie Kelm: Three Steps to Appreciative Living, with Joy Engineer Jackie Kelm

St. Julian de Norwich – Amazon Page

 

Books Mentioned in the 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:

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How to have Inspiring Conversations in Early Childhood Leadership, With Susan MacDonald – PS54

Episode Introduction

In this episode, my guest, Susan MacDonald talks about her work in early childhood leadership and how she is bringing appreciative, strength-based, positive change into educational settings.   How I came to meet Susan is a great story.  It was via email.  Susan requested permission to include one of the workshops in my book, Appreciative Inquiry for Collaborative Solutions: 21 Strength-based Workshops in her new book.  Susan shared: “I find your AI workshops outlines very helpful for engaging school leaders and educators in meaningful dialogue and would like to include one in my book.”  Naturally, I was delighted to receive such positive feedback and wanted to learn more from one of my happy customers!

Episode Overview – Early Childhood Leadership

Early Childhood Leadership with Susan MacDonaldSusan MacDonald’s consultancy is Inspiring New Perspectives.  She provides vision-focused leadership support for early childhood educational programs.   She’s  been developing and delivering inspirational courses and workshops for over 25 years.

Later in 20i6, Susan’s book will be published.  The title of her book is Inspiring Early Childhood Leadership: Eight Strategies to Ignite Passion and Transform Program Quality.

Power of Impacting People

Susan was literally born into positivity and strength-based beliefs and practices.  Her mother worked for 42 years in the Family Childhood Care arena, so growing up Susan witnessed first hand the power of impacting people’s lives.

Starting out her career in early childhood education programs, Susan experienced the dominant worldview of leadership as one that focused on all the things that didn’t work in programs, policy and practice.  In her first job, she was asked to find out all the things that were wrong and fix them. She intuitively knew there had to be a better way and set about educating herself to learn how.  Most impactful for Susan was undertaking trainings in coaching.  A major influence on her work has been the work of Bob and Megan Tschannen-Moran whose mission is to transform schools one conversation at a time; and it’s through their book Evocative Coaching where Susan was first introduced to Appreciative Inquiry.  Susan describes this discovery as “very exciting.”

Appreciative Inquiry for Collaborative Solutions

Appreciative Inquiry resonated deeply.  As with most of us who find out about AI, it speaks to us because we find what we have been looking for.  It speaks to our own deep knowing that people are innately good and want to contribute and have a voice, and given the right tools, they seek to see best in each other; and are inspired when they can do meaningful work and have a positive impact. Susan found that Appreciative Inquiry complemented her own intentions in the way she was bringing transformational change into the early childhood leadership space.

It was during this time that Susan discovered my book, Appreciative Inquiry for Collaborative Solutions: 21 Strength-based Workshops. During our conversation, she reveals how she has been inspired by many of the ready-made workshops I offer in this book.

Susan most genuinely stated that building strength-based communities, inspiring strength-based leadership, and helping people be respectful and positive was already living in the materials in my book.  Her three favorite workshops that are foundational to the work she is doing are:

  • Flourishing Communities
  • Appreciating Collaborations
  • Respectful Relationships

How to Introduce Appreciative Inquiry to Others

Including my workshops in her own work with educators in early childhood leadership has been fun, challenging, invigorating , and the work continues to have immediate impact.  Susan offers how using Appreciative Inquiry workshops has transformed people and changed their relationships.  Time and time again, the participants are inspired and want to bring “this” back to their own schools or administrative contexts.  “We need to be doing this!” is a constant refrain after people experience an AI workshop or summit.  This is the common experience of all AI practitioners.  This work is called magical because transformation happens.  Appreciative Inquiry truly touches the heart, making it transformation.  There is a lightness and an intensity that shifts people beyond their head space into their hearts, and they want others to have a similar experience.

Many Success Stories

Listen in to a number of success stories that show how the participants bring their inspirations of working together during the workshops or summits back into their own workplaces.  Susan relays a number of touching examples of how summit participants bring the key concepts and their change agendas to life so they will continue to make a difference long after the initial energy of the workshop experience.

A Positive Vision for Program Quality in Education

Susan’ book Inspiring Early Childhood Leadership: Eight Strategies to Ignite Passion and Transform Program Quality (Gryphon House) is out in September 2016 (link below).  Susan’s focus in writing this book is about bringing quality into programs and leadership in education and how both impact the broader community.  Leadership in education is not just about achieving a certain score. It’s about vision and positive actions across the entire system: children and families, staff meetings and the community. The book offers reflective practices and many “how tos” to help leaders step out of their suits of armor of yesteryear into the quality of early childhood leadership required for the 21st century.

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:

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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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Finding Energy for Positive Change will Boost your Productivity

positive changeWe’re educated to use our so called “left brain” to be analytical and solve problems and make endless lists and focus on things that need changing because they don't work.  Think about your meetings at work and other social interactions throughout your life.

This trajectory most likely started with how your parents taught you to be a good boy or girl growing up. It continued with your relationships with teachers at school, and then your bosses at work.

This meme seems to be the traditional way across most post industrial cultures.  We value our analytical brain, our executive brain, but that brain doesn’t run our lives when we are faced with fear or anxiety or the unknown, or when feeling discomfort or insecurity and especially when we feel vulnerable.

Recently, I was present in a meeting after a software roll out in an global bank.  They name these meetings “post mortems.”  Really!  The language is already ominous.  It smells of death.  The leaders of the meeting, by default, as most of us do, focused immediately on the things that went wrong and failed in the rollout.

Indeed, these things needed addressing, but the tone of the meeting within minutes of starting was spiraling downwards fast and people’s energy was deflating and eye contact dropping to the floor for fear of the blame game.

Energy Spiraling Upward

So, imagine if the team members (or the leader) had started the meeting with:

“We’ve just had a global roll out of a product we’ve been working so hard on together for months, and it went pretty well. In fact, it went great!

“Let’s start this meeting congratulating ourselves by spending a few minutes on what worked well from our individual perspectives and then we’ll address what we need to change.

What are we proud of in this roll out?  What good feedback have we had from clients?  What really worked well?”

The tone and the energy starts to pick up and spiral upward, a different set of chemicals fire within the brain and there’s energy to listen to each other, collaborate and increase engagement and productivity.  Solutions to problems and a willingness to address them begin to emerge without even having to drag them out of reluctant mouths.

RS_2005_04_29_0588The people in the room experience a different energy and begin to initiate changes from a place of engaged, solution-focused creativity and possibility.

Energy for Positive Change

This is one of the lessons of embracing change from a valuing or appreciative perspective.  You first discover and focus on what works and all the existing assets and then the weaknesses or faults begin to come into the conversation and they get addressed also – but from a very different place.  It’s a place of we’re-in-this-together:  we’ve just praised ourselves for what went well, and now we can together begin to address what we need to fix and improve on.

Appreciative Inquiry

In summary then, Appreciative Inquiry  (AI) as a change methodology looks for what’s already working well in a person or situation, not what’s broken. It takes a little practice to make that shift, as our default seems to look for what’s wrong in ourselves, each other and society at large.

One of the key principles of AI is ‘what you study grows’.  If you study deficits, you’ll find many, and if you study success, you’ll find a lot of it. Appreciative Inquiry is both a way of thinking and doing.  It provides a framework and a method to initiate positive emotions,  thoughts and actions that can produce outcomes directed with intentionality toward affirming life, heightening positive energy and uplifting the human spirit.

How do You View Change?

Focus on the changes in your own life.  If you stop to appreciate what you have already working for yourself, in terms of what has helped you to get to where you are today – it could be your past achievements, past successes, past and present relationships, your network, your skill sets, your personal attributes – you might just have a shift in perspective about what you might change, or how you might view certain changes that are happening to you.

What’s your default disposition to change? What kind of changes do you fear and avoid at all costs; and what kind of changes do you embrace with positive energy?

I’d love to hear from you as I'm developing an online course on change and I'd love to hear your perspective.