In this episode, my special guest is my most wonderful friend and colleague, Cathy Joseph. Cathy has much to share about her life with appreciative inquiry. She has recently returned from an amazing project in Islambad, Pakistan. Cathy shares the joy of her project in Pakistan and taunts us with the beginnings of undertold stories, and what has touched her about this work.
Cathy, is an independent consultant and trainer with a specialization in talent management and strength-based change.
Appreciative Inquiry was Right
When Cathy first learned about Appreciative Inquiry at a professional conference, it felt right that this is how she wanted to work in corporations – bringing participatory methods allowing everyone to have a voice, to bring out the best in every one. Intuitively, this made sense. It ran counter to the corporate culture she had been immersed in.
A High Point Story of Joy
Cathy has many high point stories starting from doing her AI Certification at Case Western Reserve University to her most recent experience in Islamabad. What was surprising for her among the group of trainees in Pakistan was how the dominant mindset was tied to traditional problem solving. When they finally were able to apply the learnings and provide the AI interview experience to the kids in their pilot program at the Mashal Model School, they were astounded that the kids got it. The children ranging from 9 to 16 embraced the interviews to share their joy of their past experiences and then to share dreams of the future. They shared their imaginings of a peaceful world of service, verbally in Urdu and through their artwork. Examples of their dreams of the future included:
- Being teachers so they also could support their community and show care, just as they were experiencing from their teachers
- Being a doctor who didn’t want to charge for services
- Themes of togetherness, playing together, being together. They were very inclusive in their thinking
- One little girl drew a house with a window, because her dream was to be able to sit in a chair and see the sun through a window that she didn't yet have.
These transformational experiences for the trainees and the students were high point stories for Cathy.
What is Positivity to You?
- A way of being, a mindset, philosophy,
- Many parts that make up the whole
- Fundamental knowing that things are good. Even in moments of darkness – it is a moment. At the end of the day, I'm going to be okay, all right. It allows me to get through.
- Barb Fredricksen's work on positivity – we build up a reservoirs of positivity over time which helps us
How to Deal with Negativity
Cathy’s had a lot of experience with negativity. Negativity is a reality, just as positivity is a reality. Learning that her perspective is also valid and she could presented it with a solid knowing was liberating for her.
- It takes baby steps to shift the perspective from seeing only why things will not work to “yes, it’s a possibility that it may work.”
- From a negative situation, she always has hope that something good will come out of it. “It’s linked to positivity – as it’s my default mindset. There are always these pieces of hope”.
- The lens of hope and possibility can trump the fear and sense of loss.
- The overwhelming feeling that comes from being with like-minded people who embrace the same mindset works always.
- Focussing on something better.
- Knowing that the language around AI is a way to talk about, and, have credibility for her own thinking – a process and history that it works. It’s not just being Pollyanna.
Power of Corporations to Change the World
An advocate of CSR, a big aspirational conversation Cathy would like to be part of is that big corporations do have the power to change the world. It is good business to do good in the world. We need these change agents in corporations who can bring about positive change. Appreciative Inquiry is a way to do this and help with collaborations across corporations, NGOs, governments working as change agents.
Links Mentioned in this Episode
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