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Saturday, March 17, 2012

How Appreciative Inquiry Can Change Your Life

This is a picture of me in my happy place.  This is the easiest place for me to live present in the moment, experience the greatest 'flow', loving life...on our sailboat, Lake Waconia, MN. 

Appreciative Inquiry is a way to live 'happy', to be eternally positive, seeking what's best and good in every situation.  I first found out about AI from a dear, Canadian friend, Jeanie Cockrell who has a vibrant, transformational, AI practice serving a diversity of organizations.  She shared with me the fundamentals of AI and I knew it was what I needed to implement into our organization, as I was a CEO at the time. 

I decided to invest in an Appreciative Inquiry Facilitators Training & Certification in beautiful Las Vegas.  This was the best leadership seminar I ever attended!   It not only taught me the basics of AI but also shifted my thinking, paradigm and view of how to live my best life, both professionally and personally! 

Appreciative Inquiry is about the coevolutionary search for the best in people, their organizations, and the relevant world around them. In its broadest focus, it involves systematic discovery of what gives “life” to a living system when it is most alive, most effective, and most constructively capable in economic, ecological, and human terms. AI involves, in a central way, the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to apprehend, anticipate, and heighten positive potential. It centrally involves the mobilization of inquiry through the crafting of the “unconditional positive question” often-involving hundreds or sometimes thousands of people. In AI the arduous task of intervention gives way to the speed of imagination and innovation; instead of negation, criticism, and spiraling diagnosis, there is discovery, dream, and design. AI seeks, fundamentally, to build a constructive union between a whole people and the massive entirety of what people talk about as past and present capacities: achievements, assets, unexplored potentials, innovations, strengths, elevated thoughts, opportunities, benchmarks, high point moments, lived values, traditions, strategic competencies, stories, expressions of wisdom, insights into the deeper corporate spirit or soul-- and visions of valued and possible futures. Taking all of these together as a gestalt, AI deliberately, in everything it does, seeks to work from accounts of this “positive change core”—and it assumes that every living system has many untapped and rich and inspiring accounts of the positive. Link the energy of this core directly to any change agenda and changes never thought possible are suddenly and democratically mobilized.  From the AI Commons Website

I immediately assembled my work teams and conducted AI sessions.  You wouldn't believe the positive energy that was created as we shared our best company 'stories' of success, impact and the personal fulfillment that came from our collaboration with each other pursuing our common mission. say the least. 

More powerful even was the effect it had on me personally.  I devoured everything I could on 'Appreciative Living' and was blessed to find Jacqueline Kelm's book, The Joy of Appreciative Living.  Absolutely transformational for me!  The book explains exactly how and why Appreciative Living works.  "It transforms years of trial, complexity, and insight into one highly focused program of daily practice that makes all the difference in your world." She guides you through how to capture what most feeds your joy, gratitude and happiness on a daily basis and now to envision a future based on your highest hopes and dreams! 

Are you feeling stuck, trapped, bowled over by your responsibilities, stress, and obligations....give this a try and see how your world opens up, new opportunities exist right in front of you, joy and happiness are within your grasp.  Appreciative Inquiry can be transformational for you too! 


  1. Jami,
    This blog is a testament to the power of prayer. I recently took on the role of lead representative for our anesthesia department (CRNAs) in an initiative brought fourth by the hospital. The program the hospital has chosen is PivotPoint. Our entire department including nurse anesthetists, anesthesiologists, and support staff are in the process of completing a PivotPoint survey regarding our work environment. 98 percent of the questions are negative in nature. It feels like nothing more than a bitch session that the hospital has paid out thousands in a contract and initiative they have deemed the Heathy Environment Initiative. So far this has accomplished nothing but breading more negativity and finger pointing. I, by a series of circumstances fell into the role of representing the CRNAs and have months of work ahead of me of analyzing the data and "duking out" solutions to all of our problems. This process has left me feeling negative and defeated before it has hardly started. A few days ago, I prayed that God would guide me through this process and use me to bring hope to this heavy blanket of negativity. Please understand that I have zero business or management background so I had no idea how my request would possibly manifest itself. I just prayed and left it in God's hands. So I find tonight on FB of all things I found the first answer to my prayer. I followed some of your links and began exploring AI. Wow! What a shift in thinking! I know it would be virtually impossible for my employer to stop a contract at this point and change to the AI model, but I can educate myself and bring these principals to the table with the hopes of some POSITIVE outcomes.
    I am excited! Thank you Jami.
    Natalie Salden

  2. WOW-Natalie, how exciting! Unbelievable how the Lord works. I'd be happy to give you any other resources I have to help you with this responsibility in your workplace. Let me know the specifics of your role and I can send you a framework or even a sample AI agenda that I've used in the past. Even a few 'unconditionally positive questions' as a follow up to the PivotPoint questions would really shift the focus and energy for your group.

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting!!!

  3. Hi Jamie -- I ended up here after reading your postings on LinkedIn. Very interesting reading. I will have to check out "The Joy of Appreciative Living."

    Thank you!

    Elizabeth Rodrigues