Appreciate (v) – The act of recognizing the best in people or the world around us; affirming past and present strengths, successes, and potentials; to perceive those things that give life (health, vitality, excellence) to living systems.
What a powerful description! A description that in a world of perceived fear, turmoil, and trepidation, we can actually take facts and unhook the negative meanings to attach new positive meanings. These positive meanings will create the energy for positive change to happen. Confused, well let me give you an example. I just finished an intensive workshop focused on a change initiative where we looked at cutting an organization’s FY2012 budgets by 15%. Our goal was to determine how to get buy-in from the stakeholders that would allow these cuts to be swiftly and effectively implemented. The first and most crucial need was to attach a new meaning to the word “budget cuts”. When we hear the word budget cuts we immediately attached the following meanings:
• They (whoever they are) want me to do more with less, I am already overworked.
• This is all about more layoffs and downsizing.
• I have no more to give, I have cut everything I can.
• Etc, etc, etc…all meanings based on some perspective of the word “budget cuts.
Through the “Art of Appreciation, ” we are able to recognize the best in people, affirm past and present strengths, successes, and potentials of the organization, and change the meaning of “budget cuts”. Through this process we were able to attach the following meanings:
• Budget cuts are a vehicle to focus us on realigning our people and resources to work at their highest potential utilizing their greatest strengths. It is a way we can celebrate what is best in our organization, seek out benchmarks, and realign in order for all people to have the opportunity for fulfillment in the organization.
• When we take time to focus on the best use of our people and resources we allow our people to create work environments where they are valued, respected, and able to work to their strengths; ultimately, creating a strong, progressive, agile workforce focused on organizational success.
These new meanings allow organizations to look for solutions and change initiatives focused on a positive new future. This is a whole new way to look at the word “budge cuts”. Changing the meaning and looking at this through “the lens of appreciation” changes the way we show up and accomplish our mission.
There are great thought thinkers and leaders in the world of appreciation. A few that I would love to share with you are Dr. Dianna Whitney, CEO and Founder of The Corporation for Positive Change. I consider Dianna one of my mentors, and honor her ability live and breathe appreciation. Dr. David Cooperrider, Professor at Case Western University is a powerful, thought provoking leader in the world of appreciative inquiry. There are also compelling organizations that have taken the unpredictable and reframed tough decisions they have had to make during these economic times. These organization give back and celebrate the best in life. They show their appreciation in amazing ways. One of these companies that has impacted the world is TOMS. Check out their new initiative which is focused on “improving vision (that is eyes!), because the eyes are the lens through which we see the world and all its beauty.
On a less global scale, I want to mention a former client and now wonderful friends who I greatly appreciate, Structure Home. Structure Home has successfully navigated an unfathomable 15 year housing market decline. They have taken the unpredictable and reframed their market through a lens of appreciation. They have realigned the best and forged new inroads in the marketplace. Working from strengths they are solving challenges in the residential construction industry one positive change initiative at a time!
As positive eye™ looks to 2012, I personally want to appreciate the people in my life who make me value the “BEST” of what life has to give; my husband, my children, my family, my friends, my colleagues, and our clients. I “appreciate” the sandbox that I get to work in every day, helping people to build their castles for the future! Thank you 2011!