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Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

– MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.  –

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“Answers reflect the past. Questions advise you about the future.”
– Margaret Somerville –

Asking high quality questions of yourself and others is an art. David Cooperrider says, “The first question you ask is fateful.” And further, that individuals and human systems tend to grow in the direction of the questions they ask on a regular basis.

Here’s question that’s swirling in my consciousness these days…I dreamed it up after spending a few days with David at a conference in January.

How can I consistently engage my nervous system in an appreciative way of being and develop a neural fascination for what gives life, what creates hope and what supports genuine contact and connection with myself and with others?

The theory and practice of Appreciative Inquiry has shown me that when strength connects to strength and hope is connected to hope, creativity and resources abound. Experience has also shown me that my habitual ways of thinking lean more towards the classic Highlights Magazine puzzles I loved as a kid…”What’s Wrong with This Picture?” Positive sustainable change and an appreciative view go hand in hand…what can you appreciate right here and now in your world?

To appreciate means to increase in value and to become sensitively aware of. Look around–find a friend, a co-worker, a teacher, a sibling, a parent, a child, your husband, your wife,your partner, a politician, a CEO, a clerk, a cashier, a blogger, an author, a musician, a colleague, a dentist, a doctor, a repair person…someone to appreciate–go on an appreciative rampage. Send emails, write a letter, make a phone call; develop and stretch your own capacity. By all means, stay alert to the quality of the questions you live in–as Merliee Adams puts it, “change your questions, change your life.”

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I collect questions. I like a good question to chew on and swish around in my consciousness. Last summer, I was at NTL with some of my Appreciative Inquiry colleagues and Sheila McNamee raised this question, “Can I let you happen to me?”

Now, I know a good question when I hear one…when I’m rattled–when I feel a little queasy, slightly uneasy, want to change the subject, avoid saying a clear-cut, squeeky clean, “yes” or “no.”

Maybe the question is really, “Will I allow you to happen to me?” Will I sink into the moment with you, drop my defenses, park my pattering mental process and allow myself to be with you–and with myself for that matter.

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Can I sit next to your ideas, your feelings, your ranting and raving, your excitement, your boredom, your creativity, your disgust, your enthusiasm, your despair, your gratitude, your resentment, your baggage, your lack of baggage, your empty baggage, your knowing, your insistance, your resistance, your laughter, your grace, your embrace…can I sit next to any of that, or all of that, like I would sit next to good friend on a park bench?

Can I adjust to the season? Let the ice inside me thaw and float down river as the sun sets? Can I mop my brow in the heat of the moment, without complaint, accepting that sometimes it’s hot and it’s not anyone’s fault. Can I, will I allow you happen to me?

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“I have spent my life…trying to share enough with strangers to make learning possible, learning to identify divergent premises instead of taking my own for granted, and to accept a broader or more ambiguous view than common sense. The basic challenge we face today in an interdependent world is to disconnect the notion of difference from the notion of superiority, to turn the unfamiliar into a resource rather than a threat.”

MARY CATHERINE BATESON

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Alfred North Whitehead once said, “No language can be anything but elliptical, requiring a leap of imagination to understand its meaning in its relevance to immediate experience.”

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How do we arrive at “shared meaning?” As the writer, I depend on you, the reader, to leap into my world–to take what you will; to grapple with my opinions and my aesthetic. Here is my invitation: I will offer my images and ideas…my hope is that you will respond…that our relating will be elliptical.

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