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What We're Reading
Appreciative Coaching: A Positive Process for Change by Orem, Binkert & Clancy. Jossey-Bass, 2007.
I've had several requests in the past few months for help with appreciative coaching and career management so I ordered some books to see what is in the published literature. This was one that I opened first and while I haven't gone through the others, it has inspired me to address this topic this month.
Appreciative Inquiry (AI) was designed as an approach towards organizational change. The focus was on discovering what works in organizations in order to do more vs. the traditional approach which was to find problems and fix them. While AI has been evolving in the past 20 years, a parallel process has been developing on how to apply the same principles into individual change through Brief Focused Therapy and Positive Psychology. In the past ten years, coaching has also grown as a cross between organizational and personal change management. Coaches are now quite common and extremely helpful if they are competent and fit the goal you have for this investment. For example, 'life coaches' help you focus on defining and achieving personal life goals. Executive coaches help you become a more effective leader or have a more satisfying career. There is overlap of course but executive coaches tend to be more knowledgeable about organizational behavior and realities. The authors of this book are executive coaches who describe how they coach using an appreciative approach. What I like about this book is that it uses the AI language and 4 D process (Discover, Dream, Design and Destiny). They also explain how the AI principles apply in coaching. So the language is consistent with most of the AI world. The Positive Psychology and Brief Focus Therapy literature tends to use slightly different language.
Let me emphasize however, this is a book written for coaches. If you're trying to gain a new frame for conducting coaching, I recommend the book. If you are not a coach, you could use the book as a do-it-yourself coaching guide. However, coaching is not as easy as it looks, so you might instead find an appreciative coach and the authors' website (www.appreciativecoaching.com) might help with that. I do think an appreciative approach to coaching is a great idea and the authors do a good job at the how to's including suggested language. Of all the lessons I have learned in my past 30 years in this business it is that we should first find work that fits our talents. It is just so much easier to be in the "flow" that Csikszentmihlyi, another pioneer in the Positive Psychology movement defined 20 years ago.
As for managing a career around your talents, my colleague Dr. Cathy Royal says, "you're going to have a future, you might as well design it." That is the essence of what AI applied to your life or career can do for you. Discover what gives you energy and how you can do more of it. Stuck in your present job for financial reasons? Here is where an appreciative coach can help you to find opportunities to at least do more of what you do best, for now. However first you have to know what you do best and what your innate talents are. Despite the growth in this field, many people don't know what they do well or would want to do more of. They are still on the "I just don't want to continue to do this" point of their career. If you can afford it, consider hiring an appreciative coach in 2008. If you want a low-cost option, buy the one of the Strength Finders books that includes a code for their online instruments. I have found this instrument to be very interesting and unique. You can also attend our webinar on Applying AI to your Career.
What can you do today? Start with answering some basic questions. For example, "How are you essential to your team at work?" "What do you love about your life and work right now?" "If someone waved a magic wand and did away with all the barriers to doing what you would love to do, what would you do next?" Write out the answers, put them away for a week, then look at them again to see what jumps out at you.
Applying Appreciative Inquiry Webinar on Sale
In honor of this months' theme, the Applying Appreciative Inquiry to Your Career Webinar (Feb. 20) will be offered at the reduced price of $15.
Click here for more information and to order.
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May you find a way to use more of one of your unique talents this month!
Thanks for your interest and support.
Sue Annis Hammond