A paradigm shift of consciousness on all levels seems to be gathering momentum. A shift from old habitual negative patterns. Those restrictive patterns that fear bound thinking, emotions and behaviours bring about, to a new positive pattern of adventure, joy and authenticity. The view of hard work, sacrificing and working your way up the ladder seems to be being replaced with the need for flow, living in balance and variety.
As I sit contemplating the interactions and conversations I have had of late, everyone I know seems to be going through some significant life changing event, which is leading to a transformation of the self, family dynamics, career direction and so forth. Like a snake shedding its skin the comfort zone is shedding itself. Even though we are all experiencing different changes, the similarity is the transformation at a core level of existence. It is as if life has taken over the direction to these unknow territories. It is speaking from deep within, navigating us onto a more authentic path, living a more truer self and encompassing a higher sense of purpose.
It feels like it’s the dawn of the positive self. Where we are exploring ourselves, relationships and organisations from the view of our ideals, strengths and appreciation. We know from hearing headlines of high levels of depression, anxiety and mental illness. It is like the suffering of the world is crying out for the essence of positive change in any format it can, as we have a deep sense of knowing that greater things can be done. A shift is happening and has been happening for a while, so how do we embrace everyone in this change from what seems to be from an industrial ideal to an electronic ideal, which is where acceleration of change has occurred. New ideas are gathering momentum quicker than ever before, so how do we embrace these energetic shifts that are happening so rapidly?
For me the answer has its foundations in Positive Psychology. Within this modality of psychology, a dimension of diverse understandings, topics and research of the positive science of the mind, I feel the area of ‘Appreciative Inquiry’ offers a solid model of change. It focuses on the entity from ‘what is working and how do we do more of it’. It doesn’t ignore what is not working, it uses the strengths of system and/or person to move forward and from this starting point awakens the potential within a person, team and organisation. It embodies the lotus flower symbolism, where it focuses on the blossoming and the beauty of the flower, not the mud it must move through. It is the glass is half full strategy, which uses inspiration, creative spirit and the positive core to activate flourishing experiences, relationships and performances.
It looks from excitement not dread as it faces challenges. It uses four key phases of appreciation to utilise positive change. The D Cycle has four significant areas, known as Discovery, Dream, Design and Destiny. Each of the areas are moved through like a journey each having its unique destination to offer. The Discovery aspect looks at the heart of the inquiry and focuses on what is working well. The Dream stage explores future positive possibilities. The Design section sets to work expanding on the discovery phase and implementing the dream phase. Finally, the Destiny stage where the changes are activated, momentum rippling towards the positive direction of success.
There is more detail to this model which incorporates changing negative conversations into positive ones, asking appreciative questions so people open up and feel safe in their conversations, building positive relationships to enhance positive team work and much more. What has aligned me right now in this moment of time to this model, is my life experiences. I have been a teacher for fifteen years, a head of department and a head of year within secondary education, where I have experienced the old and tested method of looking from the failure to improve. What is not working and how are we going to fix it. It drains energy within people, demoralises individuals which has a negative impact on relationships and effective team work. The personal exploration in Appreciative Inquiry gave me hope. A light at the end of tunnel. It doesn’t deem everything to be easy, but it changes the outlook of facing challenges and how it regards the people facing those challenges and helps them to nurture successes, through energising and empowering them.
By Kelly Seaward