Provision #454: Deliver Your Destiny

Laser Provision

Today we conclude our series on Appreciative Inquiry (AI) with a review of the five core processes for transformational change: Define what you want to learn. Discover what gives life. Dream what might be. Design what should be. Then deliver your Destiny, before starting the process all over again. AI is not a linear progression to a final resting place; AI is a spiral dynamic for continuous engagement with the best life and work have to offer. If that sounds good to you, this is one Provision you won’t want to miss.

LifeTrek Provision

I want to conclude our series on Appreciative Inquiry (AI) with a few thoughts on the concept of destiny. That is, after all, what AI promises. It’s not just a wonderful, life-affirming process to experience. It is a wonderful, life-affirming process that generates positive outcomes in organizations and individuals. Those outcomes are so positive that they often prove to be transformational, quantum-leaping, and paradigm-shifting. We’re not talking old-school, incremental growth here but new-school, wholesale change.

In other words, we’re talking about a destiny makeover which is about as radical a concept as I can imagine. That’s because destiny tends to be a rather stubborn thing. The primary dictionary definitions of “destiny” are: “the inevitable or necessary fate to which a particular person or thing is destined; one’s lot; a predetermined course of events considered as something beyond human power or control; an event (or a course of events) that will inevitably happen in the future.”

Now that’s heavy stuff! Words like “inevitable,” “fate,” “predetermined,” and “lot” suggest there’s neither much hope nor much chance when it comes to changing one’s destiny. It reminds me of the predestinarian who fell down the stairs, broke his leg in the process, and then quipped, “I’m glad I got that over with.” Taken to the extreme, the concept of destiny implies a certain powerlessness over how things work out. Our destiny is fixed; everything else is preliminary. As my 92-year-old Uncle Ernie likes to say, “When it’s your time, it’s your time. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Fortunately, there are other, more dynamic and malleable uses of the word “destiny.” I like the definition in the Cambridge Dictionary of American English: “the particular state of a person or thing in the future, considered as resulting from earlier events.” Now that definition gives us something to work with. If our desired future state results from the things that happen yesterday, today, and tomorrow, then perhaps we can determine our own destinies rather to have them served up by the fickle finger of fate.

That is the posture that AI takes when it comes to organizational and individual change. Nothing is predetermined; everything is negotiable. It’s a free-will universe and the things we focus on tend to become our reality. So why not focus on the positive?

It’s that conviction which eventually led to the framework and methodology of Appreciative Inquiry, including five core processes for transformational change that we have reviewed in detail over the past four months.

1. Define. What do we want to learn? Although AI can be used to elevate global self-esteem, that is neither what led to its creation nor why companies pay good money to bring AI into the workplace. AI is more typically used to meet specific challenges in life and work. It seeks positive, observable, and lasting changes in how people do business and the results they get.

So the first step in the process is to figure out what we want to learn. When you ask most people or organizations that question, the responses come fast and furious. We want to learn how to fix what is broken! We want to stop having so many problems! We want a better attitude! We want to become more productive! We want to stop hurting! It’s the old squeaky wheel phenomenon. Pain has a way of getting our attention. When it hurts, we want to learn how to make it stop.

AI is not so Pollyanna as to suggest there are no problems. It understands that problems are a part of life. But AI also understands that fixing and avoiding problems is neither a sustainable pursuit nor what we really want to learn. Imagining and embracing possibilities is a much more attractive endeavor with far more potential to enhance our quality of life in both the short run and the long run.

That’s why AI gets people, at the beginning of the process, to flip problems into possibilities, deficits into assets, and negatives into positives. It’s really not that hard. AI simply asks the question, “What are the positive things we want to learn rather than the negative things we want to unlearn?” Here are a few examples from classic AI cases:

  • Instead of learning how to avoid high employee turnover, why not focus on learning how to promote longevity?
  • Instead of learning how to avoid sexual harassment, why not focus on learning how to embrace positive, cross-gender working relationships?
  • Instead of learning how to avoid low morale, why not focus on learning how to have fun in the workplace?
  • Instead of learning how to avoid competing interests and silos, why not focus on learning how to collaborate openly and effectively?
  • Instead of learning how to avoid poor training, why not focus on learning how to be highly skilled?
  • Instead of learning how to avoid fattening foods, why not focus on learning how to enjoy healthy eating?
  • Instead of learning how to avoid a sedentary lifestyle, why not focus on learning how to experience flow in exercise and movement?

To the flipping of problems into possibilities there is no end. But just by looking at the short list above, you can get a sense of the energy difference between the left and right sides of the equation. Deficit learning involves heavy lifting. It’s tough work, and can usually not be sustained. Just ask anyone who has ever tried to go on a deprivation diet! Asset learning, on the other hand, uses leverage to get things done. It still takes work, but the work is lightened by the positive change focus.

Topic choice, then, is the starting point for any AI process. Flip the problems into possibilities and define a learning goal on the positive side of the equation. This creates the inquiry process.

2. Discover. What gives life? Once the topic is chosen, once the learning goal is defined, AI then performs a subtle sleight of hand. It goes on a treasure hunt for examples of the future learning goal manifesting itself in the past and present. And AI does so in full confidence that the treasure will be found. That is, in fact, a basic assumption of AI: in every situation, something is always working. If we identify a future learning goal, then there are always anticipatory glimmers of that goal in the past and present.

“Prolepsis” is the formal name for this principle. The word literally means “a forward look,” and it is used to represent something in the future as already existing in the past and present. How can that be? Think of the acorn and the oak, the caterpillar and the butterfly, the charter and the convention. One thing has a way of not only leading to the other, but of foreshadowing and representing the other • proleptically and energetically • in the here and now.

In the discovery phase, AI goes looking for examples • however faint • of the future learning goal as being already operative. Perhaps one person, one team, one day, one project, one case, one meal, or one workout already captures much of what we want to learn. AI goes on a search for that one, positive thing. Through appreciative interviews it gets people talking and listening to each other, capturing the best of what is in the form of stories and ideas.

To find these stories and ideas, AI goes out of its way to involve every possible stakeholder. No one person, not even the people at the top, can know everything that’s going on. So AI gathers the largest group possible, ideally the whole system, to go on the treasure hunt together. The more people participate, the easier it is to discover the life-giving stories and ideas of how that learning goal is making its presence felt.

3. Dream. What might be? Once individuals and groups define what they want to learn and once they discover how that learning is manifesting itself in the here and now, AI challenges people to generalize those discoveries into images of what the future might look like if such things were the rule rather than the exception, the norm rather than the anomaly, the visible rather than the invisible.

To do this, AI gets people to brainstorm what it calls “provocative propositions” as to the desired future state. No idea is discarded or judged as unworthy in the generation of these propositions. Instead, people are encouraged to openly discuss every option in order to connect with their life-giving energy. This is not a time to figure out what is realistic; it also not a time to figure out how to make those dreams happen. This is simply a time to dream big dreams and to savor their goodness.

In order to make this happen, AI encourages people to use both the left and right sides of their brain. Dreams are not the stuff of analysis and rigor. Dreams are the stuff of synthesis and play. So AI gets people engaged with their creative selves by utilizing art, music, movement, and metaphor in the development of their dreams. In large group processes, this can take the form of murals, skits, and songs as groups find their provocative, propositional voices. It’s no different in individual coaching. At some point we have to stop analyzing and start imaging, stop talking and start playing, in order to stir the human heart.

That is, in fact, exactly what happens when the dream comes into focus. It becomes a target that beckons, a magnet that attracts, an interest that inspires, and an ocean to which all streams flow.

Carl Jung once said, “All the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insoluble… They can never be solved, but only outgrown. This ‘outgrowing’ proves on further investigation to require a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest appeared on the horizon and through this broadening of outlook the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms but faded when confronted with a new and stronger life urge.” That’s the best statement I know of how dreams work to overshadow problems with life.

4. Design. What should be? If AI were to stop with define, discover, and dream it could still have an incredible impact on organizations and individuals. Putting a great dream on the table is powerful in and of itself, regardless of who agrees with the dream and of any specific strategies for its realization. But AI does not stop with the pretty picture. It asks people to hone that picture and to focus that vision into normative new patterns of behavior and meaning.

Of the dreams that are on the table, AI challenges people to develop the details. The design phase is still about dreaming, only now we get into the nitty-gritty of roles, jobs, relationships, leadership structures, management systems, business processes, as well as organizational culture and climate. Here too AI encourages people to put forth provocative propositions, but on a much finer level of granularity. Whereas the dream phase generates provocative propositions on the macro level, the design phase generates them on the micro level.

The devil, they say, is in the details. But so too is the spirit of life. As people work on the details of their desired future state, as things get even more palpable and specific, they get even more exciting. Once the fine lines get added to the broad strokes, things really jump off the canvass. Gradually • and sometimes suddenly • things long thought to be impossible are seen to be possible, dreams long thought to be fantasies do not seem so ridiculous, and insoluble problems really do lose their urgency.

5. Destiny. How do we make it happen? In many organizations and change strategies, this is where things start. The boss walks in the room, states the problems, and says, “Here’s what I think we should do, what do you think?” No wonder so many destinies go undelivered and unfulfilled! When we jump to the destiny phase too quickly, our solutions will be timid and may miss the mark entirely. Better to take the AI steps in order if we hope to provoke transformational change.

Destiny is the place where the rubber meets the road. To get there we have to do the hard work of strategic planning. But in the wake of the four other AI processes, the destiny planning process becomes much more innovative and courageous. We are no longer content with business as usual; instead, we seek extraordinary shifts that align the entire system • all four quadrants in Ken Wilber’s theory of everything (internal, external, individual, and collective) • in service of the dream.

To that end, AI makes continuing dialogue a fundamental part of any plan. The AI process is not linear; it’s circular. Once the destiny is delivered, it’s time to go back to step one. There will always be new things to learn, new discoveries to make, and new dreams to have. As Jane Magruder Watkins writes:

“The key to sustaining momentum is to build an ‘appreciative eye’ into all the organization’s systems, procedures, and ways of working. For example, one organization transformed their department of evaluation studies, to valuation studies, dropping the ‘e’, and with it the accumulated negative connotations that have attached themselves to the word ‘evaluation.’ Others have transformed strategy development processes, focus group methods, surveys, performance appraisal systems, leadership training programs, diversity initiatives, and almost every possible function of an organization, into an appreciative process that inevitably creates higher levels of excitement, enthusiasm for the work and commitment from the people involved.”

If that sounds good to you, whether for your organization or for yourself personally, then perhaps its time to consult with an AI practitioner who can make this process come alive and work its magic for you.

Coaching Inquiries: What experience do you have with transformational change? How have the big rocks been moved in your life? Does the process of Appreciative Inquiry speak to your experience? To your heart and mind? How could you learn to use AI on the job, at home, or in your persona life? Who could assist you to make it so?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


I am really valuing your weekly Provisions • what a great way to start the week! I read with particular interest your Provision on doing Appreciative Inquiry with schools Click • that is so great! I am convinced that AI is such a powerful/critical process for school folks (and students) especially in this climate of failure that so many educators are enduring every day. We are currently leading an entire district on the West Coast through a strengths-based strategic planning process with AI at the core and have recently been doing some work with the State Teachers Association on using strengths based approaches for High School Reform • very interesting and exhausting 🙂 Perhaps we can find a way to partner at some point. Keep up the good work.


I just read your poem, Change Click. Change brings possibility and change comes at every moment. Our life floats in a vast ocean of changes. So we swim in possibility. This does not makes everything possible: change makes possible things that we could not see before, things that were hiding behind an unchanged world.


May I have your permission to reprint your Passion Poem Click in by Blog and/or newsletter. It is such a powerful reminder. 



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #453: Make It Fun

Laser Provision

Changes cannot be sustained if the change process and the desired outcomes are not fun. Even the threat of death, both figurative and literal, is not enough for most people to take and to maintain the necessary actions. But the promise of life, experienced and foreshadowed in the present moment, brings a different energy altogether. When we start having fun, we become open to new possibilities. Once that happens, it’s only a matter of time before the changes we seek become reality.

LifeTrek Provision

Before we conclude our series on Appreciative Inquiry (AI), I want to be sure everyone recognizes one of the real virtues of this transformational change process: AI is fun. In last week’s ProvisionClick, I reported on how that worked in a Midwestern school district. Since that time, I have been using the generic AI interview protocol with a number of clients and classes. It has consistently been a delight.

The protocol itself is easy to remember and easy to follow. After identifying the desired behavioral outcome (e.g., collaborative partnerships, healthy eating, skilled leadership, or regular exercise), AI starts the discovery process with four basic questions:

  1. BEST EXPERIENCE. Tell me about the best times you have had with your desired outcome. Recall a time when you felt most alive, involved with, or excited by that outcome. What made it so exciting? Who was there? Describe the experience in detail.
  2. CORE VALUES. Tell me about the things you value most deeply. How do those things relate to your desired outcome? Without being modest, what do you value most about your life and work? Who are you, when you are at your best?
  3. CORE DYNAMICS. Tell me about the core, life-giving factors in your experience. When you are close to your desired outcome, what is going on? What are the key ingredients to the recipe, the critical variables, the core dynamics that assist you to be successful and fulfilled in relationship to your desired outcome?
  4. THREE WISHES. Tell me about your hopes and dreams for the future. If you found Aladdin’s lamp, and a genie were to grant you three wishes in relationship to your desired outcome, what would they be?

To get detailed answers to all four questions can take a goodly amount of time; in a pinch you can make do with just the first and last questions. But ideally, you would go through all four questions, in order, and listen actively for the answers. The process is not only transformational; it’s enjoyable. It’s fun to talk with people about their positive experiences, values, dynamics, and wishes. We don’t do this often enough!

Perhaps that’s why people are so afraid of and unsuccessful with change. We think of change as being driven and demanded by things that are not working. The old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” reflects this mentality. Unless something is wrong, we see no reason for change. And when something is wrong, we see no joy in the process of making things right. We rather anticipate an arduous process involving criticism and correction in order to deal with weaknesses and shortcomings.

Unfortunately, the best we can hope for with such an approach is to fix the problem. That is, after all, the focus. We have no pretensions of making quantum leaps forward at the speed of imagination. We just want to fix the problem. In most cases, this approach doesn’t even manage to do that. We get started on the correction, see a little progress, and then fall back into our old ways. Eventually, the problem resurfaces • sometimes with more energy and drama than before. Neither the process nor the outcome is any fun.

We see this all the time in weight loss and exercise. People decide to eat and exercise better, so they examine their current eating and exercise habits in order to find out what they are doing wrong. Perhaps they buy a book or join a program to show them the right way to eat and exercise. They resolve to make changes and it may work, especially in the first two weeks. But then reality sinks in and the new habits suffer. Eventually, most people go back to the way they were before, often ending up even heavier, more sedentary, and discouraged.

That’s because they never had fun with the process of eating and exercising well. They never got into it, as a self-renewing desire. They can never say what George Sheehan had to say about his sport of choice, running: “Running makes me a child, a child at play. That is the aim of life: to become an adult while remaining a child at heart. Play is the key. When we play, we do things because we want to, without thought of payment.”

“Play is something we would do for nothing, something that has meaning but no purpose. When I run, I feel that. For that hour a day, I am a child finally doing what I want to do and enjoying it. When I do, I realize that what happens to the body (in terms of health and fitness) is simply a bonus. I must first play an hour a day, then all other things will be added.”

That is the key to any eating and exercise program, or to any desired outcome for that matter: we have to make it fun. And for it to be fun, the program has to be tailor-made to the individual tastes and preferences, the unique body, mind, and spirit combination, that different people bring to the table. Sheehan continues, “Unless there is a good match between the person and the activity, it won’t take. Unless (it) satisfies the personality as a whole, sooner or later the individual will drop out.”

That’s what happens when we fail to connect our desired outcomes to our true identities, interests, aptitudes, and values. They end up being chores and burdens • things that must be done, rather than joys and pleasures • things we can’t live without. They end up reminding us of our shortcomings and failures rather than exhilarating us with our passions and possibilities. They connect with the negative and distasteful parts of our childhood rather than the positive and attractive parts. They fail to stir our hearts and minds with the energy of love.

Understanding this dynamic, AI begins every change process by searching for the life-giving forces in the lives of persons and the works of organizations. Until they find that energy, all change will be forced and ultimately unsustainable. Once they find that energy, all change will be natural and ultimately unstoppable. It will become what Sheehan calls a “self-renewing compulsion,” since people want to keep doing what they enjoy most.

The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke beautifully describes the difference between have-to change and want-to change in his poem, The Swan, translated into English by Robert Bly:

This clumsy living that moves lumbering
as if in ropes through what is not done,
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.

And to die, which is the letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan, when he nervously lets himself down
into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each moment more fully grown,
more like a king, further and further on.

Have-to change “moves lumbering as if in ropes” and can hardly wait to come untied. It never lasts. Want-to change is a letting go of the tangled ropes, that we cling to every day, and a settling into the place that receives us gaily and that flows joyfully around us. Then, and only then, will we grow into the fullness of who we are and who we want to become. Then, and only then • when we make it fun, will we be carried like kings and queens to our destination of choice.

AI understands this so profoundly that it does not rely on conversation alone to discover, dream, and design our desired outcomes. AI summits usually include a resource area with such right-brain effects as crayons, glue, construction paper, glitter, pipe cleaners, clay, felt, fabric, markers, finger paint, and musical instruments. To creatively express our desired outcomes through art, music, dance, song, drawing, dramatization, sculpture and numerous other right-brain activities is a powerful way to get enjoyably engaged in the process of making dreams come true. It brings fun into the equation of transformational change.

At an AI event I recently attended, fun became the theme and trademark of one of the small groups. Their desired outcome was to have more fun in life and work, starting then and there. Just articulating the centrality of fun unleashed amazing creativity. They wrote a poem, a limerick, a jingle, and new words to an old song; they made costumes from the resource area, collected amusing story cards, and performed a skit that had everyone in stitches before we were through. As the event went on, this group served as the catalyst for fun whenever the work dragged on or the tone got too heavy. They would break into song or read one of their cards in order to call us back to the place of gaiety and joy.

In their book, Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership, Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal acknowledge the wisdom of this approach. “Groups often focus single-mindedly on the task at hand, shunning anything not directly work-related. Seriousness replaces godliness as a cardinal virtue. Effective teams balance seriousness with play and humor. Surgical teams, cockpit crews, and many others groups have learned that joking and playful banter are an essential source of invention and team spirit.”

Successful organizations, like successful people, know how to make things fun. Whether by choice or by chance, they embody the following five guidelines for play in organizations:

  1. They treat goals as hypotheses.
  2. They treat intuition as real.
  3. They treat hypocrisy as transition.
  4. They treat memory as an enemy.
  5. They treat experience as a theory.

Those five guidelines, articulated before AI had become a formal discipline with its own body of knowledge, express much of what happens when transformational change takes place at the speed of imagination. Instead of bearing down to solve problems, AI and coaching both suggest that we look up to strengthen possibilities. Working with hypotheses, intuition, chaos, dreams, and experiments, people can learn how to make change fun. When that happens, new patterns become “self-renewing compulsions” or self-reinforcing habits that take no effort to maintain.

Coaching Inquiries: How could you approach your desired outcomes from a strength-based framework? How could you have more fun while working on them? What are the chore-points in your life? How could you turn those into fun-filled tipping points? Who could become partners with you in the quest for fun?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


I enjoyed your last Wellness Pathway Click and comments concerning balance. I heed this at a point in my life when I am immersed in classes, counselor trainee clients and two part-time jobs. I know that this is where I am to be and that there are many affirming moments. Yet, as my schedule gets more demanding, my exercise has been limited and I find myself going from one project to the next.

I continue my brief yoga, meditation and prayer and deep breathing exercises • all mantras of you and past Provisions. I still try to begin my day with devotions, but that does not happen on days I start work at 6 AM. That has been an interesting employment experience. My exercise is complicated by a foot injury.

I sense my integrity is in balance. I have standards based in faith, responsibility as a first-born, and ideals. I have aspirations about doctorate work in counseling, but don’t know if I have the energy or direction. I think of producing a book about professional boundaries. It may be nice to get out in the world, use my skills, and make some money. I am blessed with a loving and supportive wife who helps me to achieve goals. I think it should be her turn to play.


I just read the comments in the Readers Forum and the request by the lady from Ghana. I felt that you may have brushed her off by your answer. Could one of your lady coaches work with them to give her some references that she could research and decide what would work in her country. I know that you and your company can’t take on every request, but Ghana is in great trouble and very poor. Any recommendation may give some hope to push on. (Ed. Note: Thanks for that reply. I will follow up with her personally.)


I want to be a member of LifeTrek. I want to know every thing about what you do and find out about any way I can be involved with this. Let me know! • 



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #452: I Saw It Work

Laser Provision

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) works. I know, because I saw it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears. Last week my wife and I led one of our client organizations through the very beginnings of an AI process. In three days’ time, we facilitated 11 meetings that involved a total of almost 200 people. From 7-year-olds to 70-year-olds, everyone was engaged by the quest to discover and share some of the great stories of their life and work together. It was a touching reminder of the transformational power of inquiry and narrative. Read on to learn the details.

LifeTrek Provision

I planned to title this Provision “Continuous Inquiry,” to distinguish the appreciative organization from those that are committed to working the agenda of “Continuous Improvement.” We’ll get to that eventually, but I figured you would be more likely to read the Provision with a title like “I Saw It Work.” Everyone loves a good story, and I have a good story to tell.

LifeTrek Coaching has been working with a school district in the Midwest for more than a year. We were retained to work with the leadership in response to the research and writing that my wife has done on the importance of organizational climate to school performance. That’s my wife’s area of expertise (she teaches Leadership in the School of Education at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA) and she has made a name for herself around the concept of trustworthy leadership. In the wake of various corporate scandals, businesses are not the only ones concerned about trust. It seems to be on everyone’s mind.

That’s good, because the evidence is both clear and overwhelming that the quality of the relationships between people impacts and often determines the performance of their organizations. If there ever was a time when trust didn’t matter, when the boss could get away with old-school, command-and-control, “because-I-said-so” leadership, that time is long past. Today, organizations rise and fall on how well people work together and treat each other. When trust is high, performance is high. When trust is low, performance suffers.

Since Megan published her book, “Trust Matters: Leadership for Successful Schools” Amazon, in 2004, we have been contacted by many districts and professional associations to not only present her findings and model but also to apply her research to the practical challenges of school improvement. Our most extensive relationship to date, including assessments, coaching, training sessions, radio interviews, and public events is with that district in the Midwest.

As part of our ongoing work with that district, we have mutually decided to conduct an Appreciative Inquiry (AI) summit in June 2006. We see AI as a very compatible methodology for promoting trust in organizations. When stress levels are high • and they are clearly high in the United States right now when it comes to public schools and the accountability movement • it’s tempting to go looking for what’s wrong. That’s what regulators and auditors do! But the more we focus on problems, the harder it becomes to trust each other. Under the surface, there is always the question of who is to blame for the problems. It can become very messy, very quickly.

Since AI gets people to go looking for what’s right, it generates an entirely different kind of energy. There’s no blame or shame game, since it’s all good. By focusing on the accomplishments, the best things that are going on in the life of an organization, people see new possibilities for working together and moving forward. Even people who have had breaches in trust become more open to making things work.

To get ready for the AI summit, my wife and I spent three days in the school district last week conducting 11 discovery sessions that involved a total of almost 200 people. Most lasted an hour. Some were as long as 5 hours. We met with students in every building, all the way down to first grade. We met with administrators, teachers, parents, school board members, community leaders, business leaders, and the general public. As a result, we had scores of people volunteer to work on the planning committee for the June summit. It was an uplifting and positive time for us all.

The process we facilitated was simple enough. My wife and I hardly spoke at all. We got people talking to each other, first one-on-one and then in groups of four, about the best things going on in the district and about their hopes and dreams for the schools. When we had enough time, we also showed a video (“Celebrate What’s Right With The World” by Dewitt Jones Click) and invited people to share their discoveries with the larger group. For all its simplicity, we could not have asked for better responses. Consider the following vignettes:

  • Our second meeting was with a group of 2nd and 3rd graders, along with their teachers. We started by explaining that we would be telling each other stories, stories about the good things that are happening at the school. As soon as we said that we would be “telling each other stories,” children around the room gasped, oohed and ahed, smiled, giggled, and otherwise expressed their delight. We could have been offering free candy and not gotten a better response. Storytelling is that attractive.
  • The first graders were a pretty squirmy bunch in a very crowded room. The stories they had to tell were nevertheless delightful.
  • All of the school sessions were videotaped by a teacher and a student from the high school. While we traveled light, they spent two days lugging heavy camera equipment around to five different locations. It was not easy work, but we now have the raw material for a great video leading up to the summit. One of the middle-school students did such a good job that we asked our videographer if he could quickly transfer that clip to a VHS tape so that we could show it to some of the other groups. He agreed that it would be valuable and he happily spent more than hour after school to get that together for us. He didn’t have to do that, but he did.
  • A PR consultant was captivated by the notion of putting a video together for use in the community. “This tells the story of the good things this school district is doing,” she said, “and people don’t hear that often enough.” Something tells me they will be hearing a lot of good things in the weeks and months ahead.
  • In a meeting with community leaders, the Mayor enthusiastically endorsed the summit as well as the AI methodology, noting that this was the first meeting in his six years as mayor that did not include discussion of some problem or another. He found it to be refreshing, exhilarating, and helpful. He, too, signed up for the planning committee.
  • Since we were doing these discovery sessions with different groups at different times, some people attended them more than once. It was most impressive that a number of board members, administrators, and teachers showed up voluntarily for a public session on Saturday morning when some of them had already gone through the process on two other occasions. They found the process appealing enough to take two hours of personal time to go through it again.
  • One administrator teared up over having a hard time thinking of any positive stories. “That’s just not right,” was the reflection. “I know they’re out there, but they’ve become invisible. All I deal with, day after day, are problems. This exercise makes me realize that I have to start paying attention to more than just the problems.”
  • Several people asked to renew their coaching sessions in the wake of our visit. They realized that AI would not be sustainable without intentionality, focus, and strategy. Coaching is one way to bring those dimensions to the fore.
  • At least one person came up afterward to express his pleasant surprise as to how good the time together had been. “I don’t usually get into these things,” was the explanation, “I’m not a touchy-feely kind of person. But our sharing here was good and I really enjoyed it. I’m hopeful that we can keep this spirit alive in the district.”
  • At the middle school we met with the student council as well as several teachers. The student government representatives were both thoughtful and articulate. They expressed a vision for their school that was echoed everywhere we went. More respect, less drama, non-judgmental, and academic recognition were their themes. Who doesn’t want those?

These are only snippets of the good times we had together. Will they be enough to make things better in the district? You never know. To quote Dewitt Jones from the video we watched, “You never know where it’s going to go when you publish it in your life. When you give it all back. You just have to do it and believe. Incredible things happen when we’re open to possibilities, because the world is an astounding place. If we believe that, if we’re open enough to it, we’ll see it. If we hold a vision that fills us with energy, takes us to our own edge, and gives us the courage to soar, we’ll indeed be able to celebrate what’s right with the world.”

That’s what I think happened during those three days. Stories were told about what’s right with the district and what people still dream of for their life and work together • that energy was published in the district, and there’s no telling where it’s going to go.

I was struck by a story our leaders told us at a recent AI training event. Avon Mexico retained AI consultants to assist them with gender diversity. Even though the vision of Avon is “to be the company that best understands and satisfies the product, service, and self-fulfillment needs of women globally,” there were no female representative on the executive committee at Avon Mexico. The process involved a leadership team, several two-day workshops, and an AI summit.

By the end of the summit, more than 300 appreciative interviews had been conducted with a wide variety of stakeholders, including customers. The consensus was that the more people knew about the positive ways that men and women were working together in teams, the better things would get. So that was their strategic plan as to what they would do with the results of the summit. The external consultants moved out and the internal people kept on doing interviews. They went from having 300 appreciative interviews to having more than 3,000. Two years later, Avon Mexico was the winner of the prestigious Catalyst Award, given annually to a company whose policies and practices most benefit women in the corporation.

Can you imagine that as a strategic plan? There was no grand design. There was no quota set as to female representation. There were no heads that rolled. There was nothing to guarantee improvement except the power of the Appreciative Inquiry process itself. The more people asked each other appreciative questions, the more positive stories were told, and the more things shifted in an award-winning direction.

For AI to work it has to become part of the culture, as it did at Avon Mexico. It’s not something to do at a summit and then forget about. It’s not an isolated intervention. It’s a philosophy, a process, and a way of working together. It generates continuous improvement by making continuous inquiry of the things people want to see.

When that happens, when people start looking for the good stuff, they end up discovering more resources and energy for change than they ever imagined possible. Continuous appreciative inquiry is a wonderful change strategy for 21st century organizations, whether they be school systems, corporations, government agencies, or nation-states. It works because it assists people to construct a new reality based upon new questions and new stories.

I know, because I saw it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears. Don’t you want to see it too?

Coaching Inquiries: When was the last time that you heard a good story about what was going on in your organization? How could you be the catalyst for change? Could you start making appreciative inquiries? Where else could this approach be useful? Is your family or club looking for a few good stories? Who could join you in the appreciative quest?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


Your last Provision, Pleased To Be Click, was profound. Your reflections on life and death lifted my spirit and made me think. Thanks for that


I always pay special attention to your marathon tales, I love mountain biking and running. I have just engaged the Paleo diet and I would appreciate if you can give me a piece of advice on feeding for aerobic exercises. Reading your provisions is always a blessing. Thank you for all the work we receive. (Ed. Note: You might want to read The Paleo Diet for Athletes: A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance Amazon)


I always enjoy your readings when you mix a recent race with a ‘lesson in life’. Congrats on your finish. I too have lost friends close to my age and it serves as a wakeup call for me. As always, I really enjoy your weekly message and topics.


You mentioned last week that you ate a modified Paleo diet. What are the modifications you have made? I bought the book to see what the diet involved • I don’t eat meat or fish, and see that Paleo man did not eat grains, dairy products, legumes, or starches, which mitigates against being vegetarian. (Ed. Note: It’s hard to be a Paleo vegetarian. As you say, that’s not how they lived. When I made the change from vegetarian to Paleo, I started eating lean wild game and organic, free range poultry in addition to fish.)


Are you interested in articles on keeping a journal? I write a journaling column and have the book, The 5 Year Journal? http://www.the5yearjournal.com.


Thanks for sending me your Provisions. I look forward to them every week. I enjoyed reading your one about Tex. I knew Tex and I will be going to the ASP again this summer. It will never be as good as it was with Tex as the head man.


Its very nice to meet someone like u. I know that the Lord is keeping u stronger and stronger. I want to know whether u have some packages for children services. I teach the children service in my country, Ghana, and I want more exciting and lovely ways to teach them and draw them closer to the Lord. It could be through quizzes, puzzles, and questions from the Bibles that could help them to grow. These children are aged between 2 to 20 years. I hope to hear from u very soon. The Lord be with u always. (Ed. Note: Thanks, but we do not have packages for children services.)



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #450: Communicate What Works

Laser Provision

The system knows the solution. That’s a basic principle of Appreciative Inquiry (AI). The top dogs may not know the solution, but someone does. That’s why AI enjoins people at every level to communicate with each other about the things that work. By piecing together the collective knowledge and wisdom of the whole system, solutions emerge that no one could have come up with on their own. Through whole-system dialogue, those solutions emerge with the energizing juice of human passion, expectation, and even love.

LifeTrek Provision

“It’s the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.” So begins the 2005 movie Crash, which is billed as “a provocative, unflinching look at the complexities of racial tolerance in contemporary America.”

It is that, of course, at least as seen through the eyes of the movie’s white writer-director, Paul Haggis. Nominated for six Academy Awards, the movie presents one furious encounter after another across the dividing lines of race, class, ethnicity, and gender. It is not for the fainthearted. As one reviewer quips, “If there’s an ill-tempered remark that has ever been uttered in the city of Los Angeles that hasn’t found its way into this movie, I can’t imagine what it is.”

Underlying the various, interlocking story lines and characters • all of which take place and crash into each other in a 24-hour period • the movie can also been seen as a study in communication. Virtually every tragic encounter in the movie could have gone very differently if people had chosen to communicate differently (or to communicate at all). But they did not, could not, or would not so choose, leaving the rage to fuel itself and to expand exponentially.

Forty years earlier, Paul Newman’s character put it this way at the end of the classic prison movie,Cool Hand Luke. “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” Mimicking something said to him earlier in the movie by the captain, Newman is shot dead a moment later. As in Crash, the failure to communicate can have tragic and even deadly consequences.

Unfortunately, the failure to communicate is more rule rather than exception in our world today. Consider the current outrage over the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. Once again the pen has proved to be mightier than the sword, bringing entire populations into violent turmoil.

One does not have to look for such dramatic examples in order to appreciate the power of communication to build up and to tear down. From the most intimate, one-on-one relationships to work teams, companies, and organizations, all of us understand the importance of good communication. Communication, like trust, is both a social lubricant and a glue. When the communication is open, respectful, honest, reliable, and benevolent, things work better. When the communication is tainted, polluted, or nonexistent, things break down.

Break downs happen more often than we might like to admit. The divorce rate for first-time marriages continues to hover around 50%, and I have never met a divorcee who did not mention communication as part of the problem. So too when it comes to dysfunctional families and work environments. The failure to communicate creates intolerable conditions and blocks creative expression. No wonder so many companies lose or never achieve peak performance. People are not communicating with each other beyond the most basic of grunts and groans.

Understanding this dynamic, Appreciative Inquiry (AI) works to get people talking to each other in positive, creative, open, honest, clean, and benevolent ways. By focusing primarily on the things that work well in life and work, AI breaks through not only the defensiveness but also the silos that so many of us experience on a daily basis.

Defensiveness and silos were integral to the storyline in Crash. No one trusted anyone else outside of their own little world. “Birds of a feather flock together” was never less of a clich•. Everyone had an attitude. Encountering someone different • not only a different race, class, ethnicity, and gender but also a different position • prompted negative, ugly, closed, devious, dirty, and malevolent thoughts, remarks, and behaviors.

Although exaggerated and compressed in the movie for dramatic effect, the dynamics the movie portrays are both real and common. They are the stuff of satires and cartoons (e.g., Dilbert andThe Simpsons) that would be funny if they were not so often true.

Think of your own environments. How often does the right hand not know what the left hand is doing? How often is one person or department afraid or unwilling to speak openly with another person or department? How often does communication and collaboration break down over issues related to turf, resources, intellectual property, or respect?

Defensiveness and silos abound. We each tend to operate in our own little worlds, just like the people in the movie, without access to all the information and wisdom of the system. We too often find ourselves competing and jockeying for position rather than cooperating and searching for answers.

When that happens, we not only lose our performance edge, we also lose our way in the world. Who can maintain their zest for life when life is compartmentalized into adversarial and isolated positions? Who can make even good decisions, let alone bold, courageous, and creative decisions, when we can’t see the whole picture? The answer, in a word, is no one.

That’s why AI seeks to start a conversation about what works in an organization or system on the widest possible level. Recognizing that people who are closest to the action will often see things that are missed by middle and upper management, AI seeks to open lines of communication that are all too often closed, twisted, ignored, or dismissed.

In school systems, for example, who would think to ask the first graders what works in the system? AI would. In an office setting, who would think to ask the janitors what works? AI would. In a warehouse distribution center, who would think to ask the pickers what works? AI would.

AI practitioners speak of this as the wholeness principle: it is wholeness that brings out the best in people. But wholeness becomes possible only when we move beyond consensus and common ground to a place of synthesis and higher ground. Until we learn to respect each other’s differing views, perspectives, and interpretations of shared events, there will be no wholeness, not even when the opinions of those who are closest to the action are sought. The “us-them” dynamic will permeate and poison the entire discussion.

The wholeness principle works only when people approach each other with mutuality, humility, and respect. AI does not ask first graders, janitors, and pickers what works in their systems as a way of gathering input so that others can make decisions. AI asks questions of the whole system because it acknowledges each and every member of the system as a player, a leader, and a cherished resource who can generate proposals and the energy for change.

That’s what Peter Senge means when he writes about “learning organizations.” Such organizations value and empower all members of the system, including external customers, to communicate and control the work flow as it relates to them. When they see what works, let alone when they see a way to improve what works, they are encouraged • indeed expected • to spread the word and to influence how things get done.

When organizations make this approach to life and work their modus operandi, they shift from the “win-lose” frame to the “win-learn” frame. There are no losers when life and work are seen and experienced through this frame. There are only learners, engaged in a mutual search to not only find what works but to communicate it to others as part of a system-wide push for excellence.

That’s how things get better, or even radically transformed, in “learning organizations.” One beggar tells another beggar where to find bread. The word spreads like a virus, replicating throughout the organization as people talk openly and excitedly about the the things they are discovering, learning, and doing. It becomes impossible to contain, not that anyone would want to, once the seed germinates and takes root. It grows fast, since it is laced with the energizing juice of human passion, expectation, and even love.

Perhaps some of you have seen the PBS special on IDEO, an innovation and design firm based in the San Francisco bay area of California. If ever there was a “learning organization,” this is one. Creativity and collaboration are their stock and trade. Although the organization has a hierarchy on paper, you would hardly know it in practice. Their communication reflects a partnership rather than a domination model of leadership. By sharing their ideas (especially their wild and crazy ideas) with each other, in an animated and free-flowing atmosphere of mutuality and respect, IDEO models internally what it brings to the world: great expectations.

If you have great expectations for your organization, then perhaps it’s time to shift your communications to the “win-learn” frame. Break the cycle of blame and shame by inoculating the system with the vaccine of communication, celebration, and empowerment. It may take time for people to trust the new reality, but once the door opens the immunity will grow and the shift will happen.

More than forty years ago, Reuel Howe spoke of this in terms of “the miracle of dialogue.” Dialogue can do amazing things. It can not only find solutions to heretofore intractable problems, it can also mend relationships and fill people with hope. Honest, open, and respectful dialogue about the things that work fuels the fire of transformational change. It not only generates good ideas and creative plans, it generates the trust, hope, and love necessary to turn those ideas and plans into reality.

Who doesn’t want that? We all do. And AI represents a process for making that happen. It’s not rocket science, but getting people to stop talking about what is wrong and to start talking about what is right has launched more than one system into the stratosphere of success and fulfillment of life and work.

Coaching Inquiries: Think of a system that you’re involved with. It may be your company, organization, school, congregation, or family. What’s the energy level there? How often do you communicate with each other about the things that work? How could you encourage more dialogue my more people? What would need to change for that to happen? Who could assist you and your organization to shift from the “win-lose” to the “win-learn” frame? When might you be able to get started?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


I have been getting these emails for sometime now and it is sad to say I usually skim over them or dismiss them entirely due to their large content. But today I took the time to read this Provision and what a blessing It was! My life and my mind has been forever changed by the great content it holds. I want to thank you for faithfully sending them out.

Much of life is like this. We never take the time to slow down enough to enjoy all the treasures that life has to offer such as I have done with your Provision. Thank you for all the wisdom that you put in these Provisions. I can see they have love, hope, help, and encouragement all bundled inside and very much worth the time for one to slow down and absorb!


You concluded your last Provision, Take Inspired Action Click, with the remark that a person’s charitable actions “may not be as immense as saving Africa from debt and AIDS, and may in fact be no more than saving one small child or reengineering one vital process, but they will matter just as much in the end. And doesn’t that make you glad?” 

No, it makes me sad! Some famous economist, Basat I think, taught us to look at the hidden in the Broken Window fallacy. So while, I wouldn’t critique Bono for what he has done, at least he DID something, I would point out the hidden cost of charity: it is ineffective since the root cancer remains.

The worst condemnation is that charity will not accomplish a solution. For charity to be effective it has to conform to some principles discovered long ago. Visit The Acton Institute. It has to be rooted in the concept that “give a fish, feed a day. Teach to fish, feed for a lifetime.” Anything short of that, and our actions are guaranteed to keep our fellow humans in poverty, virtual slavery, and misery for their short lives.


I just wanted to tell you that I am so enjoying reading •Flesh and Spirit• and the •Optimum Wellness Program• over and over again. I can truly feel my mind shifting and my lifestyle on the edge of significant, healthy change. How inspiring! 



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #449: Inspired Action

Laser Provision

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) does not seek to appreciate the best in life and work as an academic exercise. It’s not an end in itself. It’s rather the foundation for inspired action in the world. When people are discouraged and depressed, their actions are small or nonexistent. When people are energized and hopeful, their actions are large and courageous. If you are ready to stop going through the motions of life, if you see the need for transformational change, then perhaps AI is the tool you need to get things moving.

LifeTrek Provision

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) may sound like rather sophisticated, stuffy, and heady stuff. You may connect it, for example, with art appreciation which conjures up images of looking at a work of art and forming opinions as to its relative merits. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.

One reason is that Appreciative Inquiry is not evaluative. It is not an attempt to take stock of things, both positive and negative. AI is narrative. It is an attempt to tell stories about our best experiences. For another reason, AI is not about forming opinions. It is not an attempt to understand how one feels about something. AI is about taking action. It is an attempt to create even better experiences in the future.

The best way I know to describe what happens through an AI process is in terms of inspiration. Telling and listening to stories about our best experiences inspires us to take bold action for transformational change. It is a common, human experience that has been developed into a formal process by AI practitioners.

Who, for example, has not been inspired to take action by the exciting report of a friend or family member? That is a nearly universal human experience. I can remember a time in college, more than 30 years ago, when a friend came back to campus after summer break telling stories about his great experiences with the Appalachia Service Project. He could hardly contain his enthusiasm.

The houses that were repaired, the people whose lives were changed, the fun everyone had working together. The mission was impossible • to address the housing needs of an impoverished region of North America known as Central Appalachia • but this fellow was on fire for the cause. He was pumped up and he got the rest of us pumped up, such that several more people joined the effort in subsequent summers. His stories led to our own stories with a project that continues to this very day Click.

That was how the Appalachia Service Project or ASP came into being and worked. Inspirational stories led to inspired action. The founder and first director of the ASP, the Rev. Glenn “Tex” Evans, was a consummate story teller. From tall tales to hardcore reality, Tex had more stories to tell than anyone I have ever known. And he told every story with a glimmer in his eye and appreciation in his voice. Consider, for example, Tex’s keen eye for the life-lessons imbedded in one simple act of kindness:

At the turn of the last century, Tex writes, “in a small Piute Indian village, a baby boy was born. It was an isolated community where only a few Indian families lived and no white people. The mother, for some reason known only to her, was angry with the father of the child, and at the birth of the child rejected it. No doctor was present, but a neighboring Indian woman came over and helped with the delivery of the baby.”

“Nearby, a kindhearted good man was anxious and kept watch over the event. He had sensed the attitude of the mother-to-be and he would not go any place that day because he wanted to be around just in case there was something he could do. From his own front door he was watching the house while the baby was being born.”

“When the baby had come, the midwife wrapped the boy in newspaper and walked out into their back yard. There stood a small shed with a wall just a few inches from a fence. She folded the paper and pressed the little package down between that shed wall and the fence.”

“The older Indian man, who had been anxiously and fearfully watching, came hurrying across the short distance, entered the backyard, and reached in between the wall and the fence and brought out the package. He unwrapped the package and found the newly born little boy breathing and, seemingly, in good shape.”

“He hurried with the baby to his house where his good wife bathed it. She then found a way to feed the child and dressed him in suitable clothing. Then they gave their attention to what was to become of this little boy.”

“Later on, they got in contact with the mother who assured them that she did not want the child and that they could have him. Nothing could have pleased the new ‘parents’ more than having the darling baby boy. They decided to name him Roger Rock.”

“Roger grew as many strong little Indian boys grow. He was vivacious and full of energy. At times he didn’t like to work, but his father helped him to grow and told him the legend associated with their tribe.”

“Years later, I came to know the good man who had rescued the baby. The mother had been dead for many years. I also came to know Roger Rock. The father has long since gone to join the Other Land and now Roger Rock has joined them both in the next world! But you know, Roger Rock became the father of eight or nine children. And, now, no fewer than thirty grandchildren are still living.”

“I marvel sometimes at how our whole existence rests on such narrow foundations. Here is a whole family of strong people whose very existence hung by the slenderest thread, like a silken spider web.”

“What if the good man had not been concerned? What if he had been away at the time of the birth? What if he had not lived there? It seems to be almost unbelievable that the lives of so many people, so many splendid and strong people, hung by the slenderest threads. I’m proud now to know many of Roger Rock’s grandchildren. I know his children! They’re proud and strong and gifted, and as I ponder the event which took place so many years ago, I’m glad that that kindly man and woman saw the plight of the newborn baby and did precisely as their noble hearts instructed them to do.”

“Aren’t you glad too?”

Someone else might have told that tale from a totally different perspective. It could have been told with judgment and condemnation for the birth mother. It could have been extrapolated into all manor of racial prejudice. But that was not the way of a man who had learned “to accept people right where they are and just the way they are.” In every situation, Tex could find reason to look up and give thanks for the life-giving and life-entertaining spirit of love.

“Aren’t you glad too?” Doesn’t that story, and doesn’t that question, just make you want to go out and do something good yourself? Doesn’t it make you want to be a better person? If so, then you are right now experiencing the power of Appreciative Inquiry. As people share their “best-so” stories, which are stories of how things are at their best, it generates an upward spiral of inspired action encompassing both the storyteller and those who hear the story.

That partly explains why coaching works. If coaching is anything it is the appreciative sharing of stories. Most of the time, the clients tell their stories and the coaches listen. Some of the time, it goes the other way around. Regardless of who is speaking and who is listening, however, the conversation becomes most powerful when both the coach and client become inspired to take inspired action.

Lance Secretan defines inspired action this way: It is the passionately held Cause of one person which becomes the Cause of many. That’s not because they are good salespeople for the Cause. It’s not because they are impatient, aggressive, and competitive in pursuit of the Cause. It’s because the Cause serves and ennobles others. It connects us with the path from present reality to a richly imagined future. It draws people, like a magnet, with a compelling vision of who we are and who we can be at our very best.

The world’s great leaders have all known the power of storytelling to craft and communicate the Cause. “When the legends die,” muses Tecumseh of the Shawnees, “the dreams end; there is no more greatness.”

Unfortunately, it’s easy for that to happen. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life and work, we forget all about the legends and think only about the problems. But the energy for change does not come from the problems. It comes from the legends. When Oprah asked Bono where his commitment and passion for Africa comes from, he described his experience of going to Africa being overwhelmed by the problems. So overwhelmed that he was, at first, unable to respond.

But as he experienced the people of Ethiopia, even in the desperation of a refugee camp, he connected with the royal part of their blood • a connection going back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. “It was extraordinary,” he told Oprah, “this royal thing was all around. And when I came back, I realized that what I saw in Ethiopia wasn’t just about people falling on hard times. It was a wider problem • political, not just social.” So the royal legend inspires political action and $40 billion worth of debt gets canceled to 18 African nations.

Now that’s inspired action, and that’s the kind of action • bold, courageous, fearless, transformative action • that Appreciative Inquiry seeks to muster in organizations and people. By structuring a process for remembering and sharing the legends of “best-so” stories, AI equips people with both the inspiration and the activism to change the world. No matter how difficult or discouraging the challenges, AI uses positive stories to change how we work together and what gets done.

It may not be as immense as saving Africa from debt and AIDS, it may be no more than saving one small child or reengineering one vital process, but it will matter just as much in the end. And doesn’t that make you glad?

Coaching Inquiries: What are the most inspired actions you have ever taken? Who have they touched and how have they changed the world? How could you become more bold, courageous, and fearless? What is within your power to transform? What inspired actions are you ready, willing, and able to take?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


I want to thank you for sending me your e-newsletter. I must confess that I am not totally convinced about the approach of AI, but I am challenged to read and think about it.


Thanks for continuing to emphasize AI. I wish I were better at it, but your encouragement helps me keep trying. And thanks for your concern about cancer, the older we get the more omnipresent it seems to be. What a world in which we sojourn.


I just wanted to take a moment to let you know that I really enjoy your Provisions. I often find myself referring back to them or even copying the ones I find most valuable. However, I did want to let you know that I can never access any information from the “hot” buttons or links in your emails. Is this a problem on your end or mine? I do not typically have this problem. (Ed. Note: We routinely check the links, and they do work. You can right-click on them, select properties, copy the URL and paste it into a new browser window. That should work.) 



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #448: Shared Leadership

Laser Provision

Most of us grew up with strong examples of command-and-control leadership. “Because I said so” is the emphatic refrain of this leadership style. In today’s world, however, it’s become a liability to manage people and institutions from this framework. The world is too complex and moving too fast for commanders to maintain visibility and control. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) offers a different framework, empowering people to share leadership and to coach-and-collaborate each other in the discovery and design of new possibilities. Want to learn how? Read on!

LifeTrek Provision

One of my clients, who owns and operates a small company and who is considering Appreciative Inquiry (AI) as a way to improve both employee morale and company performance, recently asked me to explain something that had been puzzling him about AI. “I can understand how AI generates better ideas by getting everyone involved in the search for strengths,” he said, “but how does one do that without undermining the employer-employee relationship? I don’t want my employees to forget who runs the company. How can we use AI without losing sight of the org chart?”

This is an excellent question for several reasons. First, it accurately recognizes that Appreciative Inquiry seeks to empower employees as leaders, at every level of the organization. AI is an empowerment model with a definite philosophy when it comes to leadership. Second, there are realities • such as who owns the company or who has what positional authority • that cannot be ignored. AI does not make this mistake although it proposes some unconventional strategies. Third, many people lack both understanding and skill when it comes to leadership. We want people to be motivated, industrious, creative, responsible, and smart but we are not always sure how to get and keep them there.

Fortunately, AI is a proven framework for empowering leadership, supporting organizations, and motivating people. If you are looking for a tool that will not only generate dramatic performance results but will also assist you to become a better leader of people, then look no further. Appreciative Inquiry may open doors that have long been closed shut.

AI accomplishes this by getting everyone involved in identifying and amplifying the positive core of organizational life. We have written before about the many ingredients that can make up that coreClick. Faced with difficult problems, when the tyranny of the urgent is loudly squeaking the wheel, it may be difficult to go looking for the positive core or even to remember that such a core exists. But it does exist, and AI starts with that premise in every situation.

So, too, when it comes to the appreciative leader. Such leaders believe and act as though everyone has strengths, contributes to the positive core, and adds value to the equation.

This simple proposition is actually a huge philosophical commitment of appreciative leaders. Whereas many give lip service to the value of every employee, most leaders allow problems and deficits to overshadow and eclipse that value in their attitude, communications, and strategies. As a result, they become distrustful and disrespectful in their day-to-day interactions.

Once that happens, top-down, management-directed problem solving becomes the norm. What else can leaders do when their followers are unmotivated, indolent, uncreative, irresponsible, and stupid in the pursuit of organizational goals? We intervene and micromanage them into submission. We take the bull by the horns with traditional, command-and-control strategies. If and when that fails to work, we end up doing things all by ourselves. After all, who else can we trust to get the job done right?

Sound familiar? We have all felt such inclinations at different points in time. But this is not the way of the appreciative leader. The appreciative leader is consistently and authentically respectful, trustworthy, and empowering of their followers because they know two things. One, there is a reason for what’s happening. And two, it will take everyone dreaming and working together to make things better.

The reason things are they way they are may not, of course, be immediately obvious. Different people will have different opinions, based upon their different vantage points and commitments. One thing is certain, however: everyone has a part to play in the current state of affairs. Organizations, like families and individuals, are systems, and every part of the system is connected to every other part. There’s no way to successfully isolate and treat them as discreet units. They must be taken and worked on together.

The human body provides a great analogy. Who or what accounts for high cholesterol levels? Is it our genetic inheritance? Is it the food we eat? Is it inflammation? Is it environmental toxins? Is it the functioning of our liver, digestive tract, or other organs? The answer, of course, is “Yes” • and probably a whole lot more. To single out and treat only one aspect of the situation is likely to be both ineffective and demoralizing. We can find ourselves obsessing about one facet of the problem while failing to see the big picture that may, in fact, hold out the solution.

It works the same way in organizations and families. To identify one person or process as the problem that needs to be fixed is, again, likely to be both ineffective and demoralizing. That’s not only because the analysis is flawed • it’s never just one person or process that is the problem. It’s also because such an analysis leads to increasing levels of disrespect, distrust, dishonesty, and disengagement. We end up throwing stones at each other rather than pulling together to make things better.

Systems theory has understood and worked with this dynamic for a long time, but it wasn’t until Appreciative Inquiry came along that people saw how a systems’ approach to problem solving often led to the same disappointing outcomes as more isolated interventions. With the best of intentions, a system-wide audit of problems is frequently both ineffective and demoralizing. People fail to open up, identify new possibilities, and implement recommendations because they see the audit as just another expression of command-and-control leadership.

In its place, AI recommends a system-wide audit of solutions with information flowing in all directions on the org chart. AI is not a process for people at the top of the org chart to learn what other people think and to pick their brains as to how to make things better. It’s not about getting information just so that the command-and-control leaders can make better decisions and issue smarter edicts.

When leaders approach the AI process in this way, they undermine its power and limit its results. The point of an AI process is to empower people up and down the org chart to see solutions and to dream together as to how those solutions can become a normative part of the organizational culture.

The story of Roadway Express is often told as a classic example of how this works. This large organization knows all about the relationship between management and labor. There is a clear org chart. But management used AI to empower employees to figure out a way to remain competitive. Employees from every job classification and from all levels of the organization participated in appreciative interviews, mapped the positive core, and self-organized into opportunity groups in which they crafted aspiration statements. The employees then created teams that planned, implemented, and monitored solutions.

Many of these solutions could never have been discovered by management alone and would have been stymied if they had to go through elaborate management-approval processes. Instead, by empowering employees to both generate and implement solutions, the company has increased profitability at the same time as it generated new levels of employee satisfaction, retention, and loyalty. In a competitive world of nonunion shipping companies, Roadway Express has used AI to make its union the driving force behind its success.

Does that mean there is no role for management? Of course not. But it does suggest something different than the old command-and-control structure. In that structure, employees are viewed as liabilities (they cost money) that cannot be trusted instead of assets that can create the future.

Once this changes through the application of Appreciative Inquiry, the style of leadership that emerges can well be described as coach-and-collaborate. It does not eliminate the org chart, but it changes how people on the org chart communicate, view each other, and work together. The coaching goes both ways, between supervisors and supervisees, as does the collaboration. As a result, solutions and partnerships emerge that no one had heretofore imagined or thought possible. Instead of using positional authority, those higher up on the org chart use their professional wisdom to create the synergy for success.

Coaching Inquiries: Do you hold a position of leadership? Are you threatened by those above, under, or around you? How could you shift from command-and-control to coach-and-collaborate assumptions? How could you learn to share leadership and decision-making? Where, when, and how could you start to get this moving?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


I want to thank you for the message you sent to me. Christina’s Pathway made me happy. I like this thing more and want it to be continuous. I would be grateful if you could send me more. (Ed. Note: All of Christina’s Resilience Pathways are archived on our Website Click. Enjoy!)


May I have your permission to reprint your Passion Poem Click in my Blog and/or newsletter. It is such a powerful reminder. (Ed. Note: Permission granted. Just be sure to include a link back to www.LifeTrekCoaching.com. Thanks.) 



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #447: Provocative Propositions

Laser Provision

“Make no small plans. They have no magic to stir humanity’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical plan once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency.” Daniel Burnham, a famous US architect, may have said those words in the late 19th century but it wasn’t until the late 20th century that Appreciative Inquiry showed the way to generate provocative propositions in the service of transformational change.

LifeTrek Provision

If provocative propositions ever made it to the top of the billboard charts, it was during my senior year in high school (1971-72). That was when John Lennon released his Imagine album with the following signature track:

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Almost ten years later and just two days before his assassination in 1980 at the hands of a religious zealot, Lennon noted that the concept and lyrics for Imagine came from his wife, Yoko Ono. “Those days I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution, but it was right out of Grapefruit, her book, there’s a whole pile of pieces about imagine this and that and I have given her credit now long overdue.”

What prompted Ono to imagine such a utopian vision? Her experience of coping with the hardships and terrors of being in Japan, as a child, during the second World War. “I used my imagination to help my brother and me get through the war,” she told a reporter. “We had been evacuated from Tokyo but were desperately short of food. As our country was being bombed, I’d imagine menus for my starving brother. He would start to smile. The power of imagination is so strong. If you think something is impossible, you can imagine it and make it happen.”

Of course, we’re a long way from a world where religion, politics, and wealth no longer become causes that people will kill or die for. But that neither invalidates the song nor the power of imagination to make the impossible possible. As the saying goes, some things just take a little longer.

In the case of Yoko Ono, as a 12-year-old girl in war-torn Japan, imagination became the way to hold together her sanity and to lift herself above the fray. She and her siblings were not only hungry, they were also taunted for being reduced to poverty (she had been born into one of Japan’s wealthiest banking families). Imagination lifted her above the wheelbarrow that held their meager belongings. Others might see embarrassment, shame, failure, and destitution in their condition, but in her imagination she saw a different world and cultivated a different posture.

Today, Ono remains an imaginative activist. From world peace to human rights, and especially women’s rights, Ono’s imagination continues to lift her above the fray. “I’m always inside myself,” she muses, “listening to what’s coming into my head. I’m like a conduit of some message coming through me. I’m interested in everything, equally, every day. I’m in love with life, the world, every moment.”

On that basis, she has put forward provocative propositions for nearly 73 years. “Imagine there’s no heaven … countries … possessions.” That was provocative in 1971; it may be even more provocative today.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) sees great value in such provocation and has developed a methodology for raising it to the fore. Instead of timid and tentative suggestions as to how to make things a little bit better, AI seeks to generate bold and provocative propositions as to how to make things a lot better. And it does so by unlocking the power of imagination.

That’s why AI spends so much time in the discovery stage of its transformational process. By looking for strength and stories of success, AI not only inculcates people with a can-do attitude, it also creates a safe environment in which people can begin to dream together. By looking for problems that need to be solved, people are thrust back into the realm of embarrassment, shame, failure, and destitution. Even when lip-service is given to a no-fault presumption, there’s always the lurking suspicion that heads will roll if the propositions get too provocative. As a result, engagement tends to remain minimal and superficial while suggestions tend to remain shallow and incremental.

Not so when it comes to AI. Once people have discovered and collectively celebrated their strength and stories of success, they become much more adventuresome in the putting forward of propositions for change. People who had long suspected that their ideas would never be listened to, either because their ideas were too off the wall or because they were too far removed from the corridors of power, now dare to stand up and speak their mind. Instead of small plans, they end up thinking big.

This is the beginning of the AI design process. “Participants draw on discoveries and dreams,” write Diana Whitney & Amanda Trosten-Bloom, “to select high-impact design elements and then to craft a set of provocative statements that list the organizational qualities they most desire. True to the principles of AI, Provocative Propositions are written in the affirmative. They expand the organization’s image of itself by presenting clear, compelling pictures of how things will be when the organization’s positive core is boldly alive in all of its strategies, processes, systems, decisions, and collaborations.”

Whitney & Trosten-Bloom identify four qualities of great propositions. They are:

  • Stated in the Present Tense. They express future ideals as if they already exist.
  • Grounded in What Works. They are based upon best practice stories that surface through the Discovery phase.
  • Provocative. They stretch the organization beyond the familiar.
  • Desirable. They take the organization where people want to go.

This is the stuff, as the quote from Daniel Burnham in the Laser Provision suggests, that “stirs humanity’s blood.” It’s also the stuff that has kept Yoko Ono going for 73 years. And it all becomes possible once Appreciative Inquiry unlocks the door of imagination.

Coaching Inquiries: What can you imagine? Are you afraid to think big and imagine great possibilities? How could you become more provocative? What are the conditions that need to be satisfied in order to move you into a new way of being? How could you let go of judgment and grasp hold of peace?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


Your last Provision, Embrace Greater Goods Click, makes a lot of sense. It’s a keeper and one I’ll put on top of the work pile and personal calendar this week to see what kind of staying power it has. 

Appreciative Inquiry was a whole lot of buzz at the most recent convention of the International Coach Federation, as evidenced in writings and newsletters of several coaches with a strong internet marketing program, like you have. Your presentation of it has been a steady series of articles and that’s making it useful. Thanks!


In your last Provision you wrote that, “The more people try to push and stretch the performance leg, without comparable gains in learning and enjoyment, the more things break down.” How true!


First of all, please, please, please, may I use the phrase “incompetent problem magnets to competent possibility creators” in an upcoming workshop? What a GREAT phrase! I’ve really been enjoying the Appreciative Inquiry series.


The poem on Change Click was wonderful. It helps me think about my current situation a little differently and gave me a new angle. Thank you. 



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #446: Embrace Greater Goods

Laser Provision

The reason Appreciative Inquiry works is because it inspires people to not only dreams bigger dreams but to embrace greater goods. We end up motivated not only to raise the bar of our expectations, but to seek a more holistic and life-giving experience. This may sound like New Age woo-woo, but it’s actually the essence of success. Focusing on performance alone is ultimately counterproductive and unsustainable. Bringing in such life-giving factors as learning and enjoyment provides a competitive, transformational edge.

LifeTrek Provision

It’s not rocket science, but that doesn’t make it easy to do. In last week’s Provision Click, I wrote about the power of appreciation to help us dream bigger dreams. When we see nothing good around us, when we feel discouraged and distressed, our dreams • if we have them at all • are very small. We hope to make things a little bit better or even just not so bad. Baby steps and incremental progress describe how we show up on a good day. On bad days, there’s no room for dreams at all.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) has an antidote for small dreams. By looking for examples, no matter how small, of what we want to have happen, AI puts the spotlight on positive things. By taking the time to become aware and to tell the stories of those things, AI discovers even more of those things than people knew existed. Good, positive stories are like laughter. Once someone catches the bug, pretty soon the whole room is laughing. So too with great stories. Once someone has a great “remember when” story, others recover and tell some of their own.

The discovery phase of AI is the most important phase. That’s because the discovery phase surfaces the positive questions, memories, and stories that elevate the affect and awaken the hope to dream bigger dreams. In fact, when the discovery phase is done correctly and thoroughly, bigger dreams become an automatic reflex. We don’t have to be told or commanded to dream bigger dreams, we want to do so. In fact, we can hardly keep from doing so. When we move from seeing ourselves as incompetent problem magnets to competent possibility creators, there’s no limit to the dreams we may generate.

In fact, the dreams often become so dynamic as to move altogether outside the realm of where we started. Performance improvement is a case in point. Let’s say that an organization or an individual wants to improve performance in a particular area of interest or concern. A manufacturing company, for example, may want to improve productivity, a customer service department may want to reduce average call time, or a school system may want to meet state standards. An individual, on the other hand, may want to improve their sport performance, lose weight, or increase their sales volume.

Whatever the interest or concern, the traditional approach starts with a root cause analysis of the problems. I remember working with a Consumer Products Goods (CPG) company who brought in a large consulting firm because they were having problems getting products into and out of their warehouses on time. For the first month, the consulting firm went to every warehouse and shadowed the workers, documenting everything they did, recording times with stop watches, and interviewing people as to the obstacles and bottlenecks. Through a series of meetings, they ended up making recommendations as to how to fix the problem: new warehouse management hardware and software, business practices, training, and personnel were all in the mix.

For the warehouse workers it was a very discouraging process. They had been doing the best they could with what they had to work with, yet the consultants saw only the problems. And why not? That’s what they were being paid to find! After their recommendations were made, some were successfully implemented while others were not. Many solutions lacked the buy-in of critical stakeholders since they were recommended by outside experts. Months of engagement by the consultants were not enough to fully appreciate the culture and capacities of the company.

The result? There were improvements in warehouse performance, but they did not fully meet management expectations and they did not impact other areas of the organization. In other words, the improvements were limited both in quality and quantity. The dreams started and ended small: fix the warehouse problem. And they didn’t even do that.

This same process would have been ideally suited for Appreciative Inquiry. Instead of doing a root cause analysis of the problems, the consultants could have launched a company-wide root cause analysis of the successes. From order to cash, including every department, the consultants could have shadowed and interviewed people about the instances when products did get into and out of the warehouse on time. Then, in an appreciative forum involving as many stakeholders as possible, the consultants could have brokered a conversation as to what was going on when things worked right and how could that be done more often.

Chances are, if that had been the process, the company would have come up with bigger dreams than merely fixing the warehouse problem and they would have had the necessary support and resources to make those dreams come true.

One reason for that is because systems, by definition, are interconnected. That’s what makes them a system! Business systems, school systems, family systems, and every system function only as well as their constituent parts function in relationship to each other. There’s no way that a warehouse problem is just at the warehouse. It involves each and every person in the company. When orders get filled on time, something worked well on every level. But it takes time to appreciate and understand that, let alone to make that the rule rather than the exception.

Nevertheless, such is the promise of Appreciative Inquiry. Instead of a modest improvement, AI holds out the promise of a quantum leap. Like those bowlers who improved their scores 100% by watching their strikes and spares rather than their misses and mistakes Click, AI inspires people to “make no small plans” and to implement those plans successfully.

Another reason for that is because AI inspires people to not only dream bigger dreams but to embrace greater goods. Once people get in the appreciative spirit, they are not content to dream bigger dreams about small questions (e.g. warehouse performance improvement). They start asking bigger questions as to how the original interest or concern fits together with everything else. Suddenly they not only want to do better, they also want to learn more and to enjoy the process. In other words, they become interested in what Tim Gallwey calls a new definition of work.

I have written about this extensively before Click, but it fits in so well with Appreciative Inquiry that a quick review is in order. Most people, Gallwey notes, define work in terms of performance. Work is what we have to accomplish, and it is neither necessarily nor even usually something we enjoy. Work is a chore. From this definition, dream bigger dreams would mean that we set the performance bar even higher. Instead of seeking to improve performance by 30%, we shoot for 100%.

As that CPG company found out, however, setting the bar higher does not necessarily generate peak performance, even when we bring in expensive consultants. If setting the bar higher just makes work even more of a chore, it will prove to be counterproductive. If people are not learning and enjoying the experience of work, then performance degrades over time.

We like to think of this as an equilateral triangle, with one side being performance, one learning, and the third enjoyment. Since it is an equilateral triangle, the sides must always be equal in length (or else the triangle breaks). To grow performance, we must also grow learning and enjoyment. That’s less of an assertion than a statement of the way things work. The more people try to push and stretch the performance leg, without comparable gains in learning and enjoyment, the more things break down.

Appreciative Inquiry is an excellent methodology for getting people to embrace these greater goods even if they have never read or heard of Tim Gallwey. Once people feel appreciated, once they feel safe, respected, valued, trusted, and heard, they will naturally generate ideas for transforming the entire work experience into a larger performance-learning-enjoyment triangle.

That’s why AI speaks of itself not as an approach for organizational development but for transformational change. It empowers people to think outside the box of narrow performance expectations. The bottom line, when it comes to AI, is not a single financial figure. It’s not even a Balanced Scorecard Click, as businesses are want to use the term. It’s bigger than that, because it involves all aspects of the performance-learning-enjoyment triangle. In short, it seeks to make work and every other experience an affirming expression of life.

As David Cooperrider and Diana Whitney write, “AI is the cooperative, co-evolutionary search for the best in people, their organizations, and the world around them. It involves systematic discovery of what gives life to an organization or a community when it is most effective and most capable in economic, ecological, and human terms.” Talk about something larger than warehouse improvement! AI seeks to find and amplify the vitality of people and their organizations because it knows that there is no other way to make things better.

Think about that for yourself in any area where you may be pushing for performance improvement. It’s not enough to just work harder. It’s not even enough to work smarter. Sometimes we have to work wider: embracing greater goods in the pursuit of every singular goal.

Coaching Inquiries: Do you pay attention to the big picture when it comes to what’s going on in life and work? How could performance become only one of the goods that we seek? How could we balance performance with learning and enjoyment in a perfect, equilateral triangle? What changes would that require? Who could assist with that project?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


There were no reader replies to reprint from the last week. We encourage you to ask questions and to send us feedback from the current or past issues. Enjoy! Thanks. 



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #445: Dream Bigger Dreams

Laser Provision

“Dream bigger dreams” may sound like a coaching mantra, but if you think this Provision is just another self-help pep rally, then you better read on. Dreaming bigger dreams is not something we can make ourselves do. We can, however, make them more likely by attending to our basic needs and identifying our positive core. That’s why Appreciative Inquiry spends so much time in the discovery phase of its process. The more strength we discover, the bigger and better our dreams are likely to be.

LifeTrek Provision

On our way back from New Zealand, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit my 92-year-old uncle who is in failing health and has relocated his residence to a nursing home. He had a kidney stone removed in the past few days and he was still in a weakened condition from that operation. As a result, his body was even more frail than it was just a few weeks ago, when we saw him just before leaving for New Zealand.

His mind is nevertheless as sharp as ever, which makes talking with him a joy. He has always prided himself on remembering the details of his experiences over the years, which include every graduation and wedding in my nuclear family, including my own children, since my mother graduated from high school in 1942. It will be unusual and sad to have one of those special rites of passage without him, when that day comes.

Now that he is dealing with increasingly difficult and challenging health problems, his dreams have been reduced to one day at a time. He never complains and makes no demands, at least not when we are around, but you can tell that his physical impairment has him focused on the bottom tier of what Abraham Maslow called the human “hierarchy of needs.” In this hierarchy and understanding, first described by Maslow in a 1943 paper Click, physiological needs such as breathing, drinking, eating, voiding, sleeping, temperature regulation, and hygiene must be met before attention can be given to any of the other human needs.

In Maslow’s hierarchy, physiological needs are at the bottom of a pyramid with 5 or 6 levels. The bottom four levels all represent “deficiency needs,” or needs that drive human behavior in their absence. If we don’t have enough food, for example, we are driven to find food with increasing levels of desperation.

The other three levels of deficiency needs in Maslow’s hierarchy, beyond the physiological, are the tiers that relate to safety, love / belonging, and self-esteem. Beyond basic survival needs of the human organism, safety and security come next. These include concerns such as physical safety, employment, financial security, family safety, health protection, and even moral security in the sense that people are driven to change morally compromising environments.

In addition to safety and security, people also have the need to love and to be loved. The traditional family unit is but one expression of this need. From our most intimate partnerships to professional and recreational associations, people seek connection with other people in order to avoid loneliness, social anxiety, and depression.

The final tier relates to self-esteem and self-respect. Beyond the issue of morally compromising environments is the issue of living and working in a way that generates both self-respect and the respect of others. The flow studies of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi make it clear that people can meet this need in any activity, regardless of the value society places on that activity. From service workers to business and political leaders, people experience flow when they take pride in both the process and the outcome of doing what they do.

Like my 92-year-old uncle, if you ask someone to tell you their dreams when their deficiency needs are not fully met, they will immediately respond in terms of meeting that need: “I want to feel better.” “I want better housing.” “I want a job.” “I want a partner or mate.” “I want to be employee-of-the-month or to achieve professional recognition.” You can probably come up with your own statements based upon your own unmet deficiency needs. When these needs go wanting, it’s hard to think about or to dream of anything else.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) takes a cue from this model when it makes discovering the positive core of organizations and people the starting point for transformational change processes. Focusing on the deficits is a crippling and disabling condition that defines and constrains people’s dreams. Discovering and appreciating the positive core, on the other hand, stimulates people to go beyond their condition and to dream bigger dreams.

We see this all the time in our coaching work with individuals and organizations. When people first show up for coaching, we ask them to identify their goals for the coaching process. The laundry list is usually related to one or more those unmet deficiency needs: “I want to lose weight.” “I want to move up the ladder.” “I want to find my ideal mate.” “I want finish my dissertation.” “I want tenure.”

So too when it comes to organizations. Strategic planning always identifies goals to be met, and the goals people come up usually start with the most obvious of requirements and concerns: “We want to improve productivity.” “We want to meet standards.” “We want to reduce overhead.” The mantras of Total Quality Management and Continuous Improvement are so ubiquitous as to be familiar to just about anyone involved in management operations.

Unfortunately, to paraphrase Einstein, it’s impossible to meet these deficiencies by working them through on the same level at which they were created. That’s why, as coaches, we spend so much time with individuals and organizations to identify the things that are working well, that people love to do, and that give life to the human spirit and to organizational cultures. By acknowledging and appreciating competencies even and perhaps especially when the deficiency needs are not fully met, people dream bigger dreams and come up with better strategies in both life and work.

This is one of the many areas where coaching and Appreciative Inquiry follow parallel paths in both their philosophy and their methodology. We are not following the pain and fixing the problems as much as we are following the passion and finding the possibilities. It is how we handle the discovery process that distinguishes our approach and elevates our results. By engaging every stakeholder and acknowledging every resource, by asking open questions and discovering great stories, we enable people to release their negative accounts and to embrace their positive ambitions.

Once this happens, it’s not long before those initial, deficiency-based goals and objectives are replaced by much larger competency-based ones. Instead of incremental progress we dare to dream dreams of making heretofore unimaginable quantum leaps forward.

Those who wanted to lose weight dare to dream of dreaming of running a marathon or climbing a mountain. Those who wanted to move up the ladder dare to dream of owning the company. Those wanted to find their ideal mate dare to dream of finding their mate in a context of common interest and concern. Those who wanted to finish their dissertation dare to dream of making a larger contribution while those who wanted tenure dare to dream of becoming global leaders in their areas of expertise.

It works the same way in organizations, corporations, communities, teams, schools, churches, clubs, and any other social context. A thorough, strengths-based discovery process will shift the conversation from Continuous Improvement to radical innovation. Instead of trying to do the best we can with limited resources and limited talent, we dare to dream of outdoing ourselves with sufficient resources and surprising talent. Once again, our dreams become bigger than had heretofore been thought possible.

The amazing thing is that this all happens naturally, in both individuals and organizations, once those deficiency needs are addressed. People don’t have to be told to dream bigger dreams, as if that were even possible. People want to dream bigger dreams once they have discovered a solid foundation of positive affect on which to stand.

Maslow spoke of this in terms of self-actualization. Once the physiological, safety, love / belonging, and esteem needs are met, Maslow understood people as turning to growth needs for their continued stimulation, evolution, and motivation. On this basis, some have suggested a sixth tier, at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, for transcendence or spirituality. Whereas self-actualization relates to acceptance, spontaneity, creativity, objectivity, community, contribution, and inspiration as ends in themselves, transcendence recognizes these growth needs as being best met when the entire human experience is directed outside itself.

What Maslow may not have fully appreciated is that self-actualization and self-transcendence are not impossible pursuits for people even when deficiency needs are not fully met. Although there is obviously a critical threshold below which the human organism cannot go, there is much room above that level for the discovery and appreciation of the positive core to work its magic and to inspire greatness.

That’s the big picture we need to work with if we hope to move from taking small steps to giant leaps forward. Such was the experience, for example, of a giant telecommunications company after engaging in an AI process. “The process generated better results than seeking out and solving problems,” observed the President. “That’s because it enabled us to combine a positive culture with all the challenges we face today. It gave us an empowering sense of hope and a way of approaching problems from the other side.”

If we want to dream bigger dreams, then it behooves us to pay attention to these core dynamics. Deficiency needs may take priority, since they represent the squeaky wheels of life. When the body is breaking down or the business is going bankrupt, it is hard to think about anything else. But approaching such needs head on is not always and may not even usually be the best strategy. Continually focusing on our problems can foster a negative culture and a paralyzing sense of hopelessness. It can make things worse rather than better.

Approaching such needs from “the other side” is a better way to go. We saw this in my uncle recovering from surgery. Even in his weakened state, he was able to identify positive resources for comfort, recovery, and strength. He celebrated technologies that made possible noninvasive surgery, attendants who acted as though they had known him their entire life, as well as family and friends who reached out in love.

My uncle’s basic needs may not be fully met right now, but that was not his only focus. By acknowledging and appreciating the silver lining around the cloud of his poor health, he was able to pick himself beyond the limits of his capacity. He was able to transcend his condition and to crack a smile even in adversity.

When physically healthy people experience transcendence the results can be even more dramatic and impactful. Best practices become the rule rather than the exception, and stretch goals become consistently achievable. We dream bigger dreams because we believe we can accomplish them. The more resources, strength, competency, and mastery we claim, the more positive stories we tell, the more excited we become about the possibilities for making life great.

Coaching Inquiries: How are your dreams impacted and constrained by your unmet deficiency needs? What positive resources can you identify that might enable you to dream bigger dreams? What growth needs are stirring inside you and clamoring for attention? How can you give them the priority they deserve to set you and what you care about on the path of transcendence?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


Thank you for the great poem ‘Change.’ It was a great inspiration to me!


Where’s the bison? Who sells it in Las Vegas, Nevada? (Ed. Note: The bison ranchers I work with are local to me, in southeast Virginia. You can, however, purchase bison at many markets and you can also search for bison purveyors over the Internet. Click



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #444: Acknowledge Every Resource

Laser Provision

We have more resources at our disposal than most of us recognize and acknowledge. It’s not just other people who can help us, it is also accomplishments, opportunities, assets, innovations, capabilities, traditions, habits, environments, and a myriad other things that make up what Appreciative Inquiry calls our positive core. Once that positive core is acknowledged, it blossoms into the fullness required by the increasingly complex and stressful challenges of contemporary life and work.

LifeTrek Provision

As I write this I am trekking around the South Island of New Zealand with my wife and college friends we’ve known for 30 years. The sites and scenes, including glaciers, whales, ragged coastlines, tree ferns, starry night skies of the southern hemisphere, rainbows, exotic birds, the world’s steepest street, and numerous places of historical significance, are creating memories and slideshows to last a lifetime. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about this experience, from time to time, in our weekly Provisions.

The rugged outdoor quality of our trek combined with the 18-hour time zone difference between New Zealand and the East Coast of the USA has made for some interesting technological challenges and timing issues in the distribution of Provisions and the conduct of our business. It’s no small feat to find an Internet hotspot at 10:00 PM on New Year’s Day in the middle of nowhere, 12,000 kilometers or 7,500 miles from home! The fact that we could do so speaks to what Thomas Friedman calls the “flat world” in which we live. People and technology the world over are becoming increasingly connected and connectable.

The poem titled “Change” that I sent out last week, Click, is a great segue to this week’s Provision in our ongoing series on Appreciative Inquiry (AI). I had written a first draft of that poem about a month ago, but I was not completely happy with the result. I recited the poem to our staff, at the end of one of our staff meetings, and it just didn’t feel right to me. Recitation is the best, and some might say the only, way to experience a poem. Poems are to be heard with the ears, not read with the eyes. Until a poem is spoken out loud, it lacks form, substance, meter, and pace.

And, at its first reading, “Change” left a lot to be desired. So it came with me to New Zealand for continued tweaking until it was due to go out on New Year’s Day. As I made the long journey, going from the cold of a short winter day to the warmth of a long summer day, I would make both mental and written notes to myself as to ways the poem could be improved. But as delivery day approached, it was still not up to snuff.

That’s when I remembered another principle of AI: to acknowledge every resource. Here I was wrestling all by myself with a poem while traveling around New Zealand, in close quarters, with five creative friends. That was not using every resource! So I sought their permission to turn the finished product into a group project. They agreed and we began talking about the nuances of meaning, trying on different words, getting silly about some illusion or reference, and generating ideas that I might never have come up with on my own. The end product, judging from the feedback, resonated positively with many people.

The poem would likely not have been as good without the input, feedback, counsel, and coaching of my friends. But I could easily have missed the opportunity, either by not wanting to impose upon them or by not wanting to share my creation. The more we try to do things on our own, the more we limit our options and outcomes.

This simple example applies in every arena of life and work. Those who think they know it all, can do it all, or who want to control it all will often fail to see the resources around them and, as a result, will often fail to generate the kind of energy, trust, innovation, and commitment that they need to successfully meet the challenges we all face.

In our last AI Provision before the holidays we spoke of this in terms of engaging every stakeholderClick. Too often, decision-makers become isolated from frontline people who have valuable experience, perspectives, and wisdom on how to change things for good. Ideally, no voice should be left out • whether we’re talking about a large multinational company or a small family unit • when it comes to discovering and designing strategies for doing things that work.

But stakeholders and friends are not the only resources we can draw upon when it comes to making changes. Although project managers may speak of resources in terms of personnel and headcount, Appreciative Inquiry looks at the big picture to identify the positive core of organizations and systems. Here is a representative list of resources, identified by David Cooperrider and Diana Whitney, to be acknowledged and drawn upon by those interested in moving beyond continuous improvement to transformational innovation:

  • Achievements
  • Vital Traditions
  • Strategic Opportunities
  • Lived Values
  • Product Strengths
  • Positive Macrotrends
  • Technical Assets
  • Social Capital
  • Breakthrough Innovations
  • Collective Spirit
  • Elevated Thoughts
  • Embedded Knowledge
  • Best Business Practices
  • Financial Assets
  • Positive Emotions
  • Visions of Positive Futures
  • Organization Wisdom
  • Alliances and Partnerships
  • Core Competencies
  • Value Chain Strengths
  • Visions of Possibility
  • Strategic Advantages
  • Leadership Capabilities
  • Relational Resources
  • Product Pipeline
  • Customer Loyalty

What a difference it makes to investigate these things in the life of an organization or community instead of all the problems we face! Instead of the traditional “root cause analysis” of why problems occur, AI does a root cause analysis of why success occurs because doing so enhances collective wisdom, builds energy and resiliency to change, and extends the capacity to achieve extraordinary results. Once the positive core is seen in all its fullness, better strategies and solutions emerge.

In his book A Theory of Everything, Ken Wilber reminds us of all the places we can look for resources and strength. He works with a four-quadrant model created by two axes, one representing the individual / collective continuum and the other representing the interior / exterior:

  • The interior-individual quadrant (I) is the subjective quadrant of intentions and feelings.
  • The interior-collective quadrant (We) is the inter-subjective quadrant of beliefs and cultures.
  • The exterior-individual quadrant (It) is the objective quadrant of behaviors and facts.
  • The exterior-collective quadrant (Its) is the inter-objective quadrant of systems and society.

Wilber notes that every situation, every organization, and every operation involves all four quadrants. I, we, it, and its are universal dimensions of life. Appreciative Inquiry acknowledges this truth and suggests that we look in every quadrant in order to find the full range of resources available to us at any point in time.

Unfortunately, those resources remain hidden from view, even when we go looking for them, if people sense a lack of openness, receptivity, and respect. Had I never asked for help with the poem, I would have never received help. But had I asked for help and not responded with positive regard, I would not have received all the help my friends had to give. They would have shut down pretty quickly or would have offered only superficial engagement.

That’s not to say I had to accept or agree with all their suggestions. But I did need to appreciate and value their perspectives and contributions. In other words, I needed to make it both safe and fun for them to share their ideas and get involved. Once that foundation was laid, the floodgates opened and we went from tweaking the poem to making radical revisions. Entire stanzas were deleted and new images were added • one at the very last second before we sent the poem out. The end result was both mine and not mine at the very same time. Although I was the final arbiter and owner of the poem, the group dynamic was synergistic: it became greater than the sum of its parts.

Therein lies the magic of appreciatively acknowledging and engaging every resource. It not only discovers the positive core, it amplifies that core. The systematic process of inquiry into the things that work in each of Wilber’s quadrants, the identification of not only people who can do things but also all the other resources that make people great, is exactly what organizations, communities, and individuals need to meet the increasingly complex and stressful challenges of contemporary life.

No one can long afford to neglect the positive core. Here in New Zealand they have problems with a plant called gorse. Brought over from England as a hedge in the days before modern fencing, gorse now threatens New Zealand fields. A different environment has allowed the prickly plant to become a wildly growing and unsightly weed. Without tending, fields can be overrun and rendered useless.

So too when it comes to the positive core. Without tending, it can be pushed out and grown over by prickly weeds. It’s easy to complain about the things that don’t work and to take the attitude, “if I want the job done right, I better to do it myself.” But such attitudes and actions are like gorse when it comes to the positive core. They take over and destroy everything in their path. Unless they are nipped in the bud, they quickly come to rule the day.

Acknowledging every resource is one way to keep the complaints and martyrs at bay. By looking at accomplishments, opportunities, assets, innovations, capabilities, and all the things identified by Cooperrider and Whitney as making up the positive core of organizations, communities, and individuals, we enable that core to blossom into all it can possibly be. New Zealand is also famous for its beautiful gardens, which are in full bloom at this time of year. What a difference it makes when someone is tending the garden! There is no gorse here. There is only a splendid display of creation in all its glory.

That’s what happens when we appreciatively acknowledge every resource. The synergy optimizes the entire system as well as its individual components. By eliminating the noise and amplifying the sound of creative engagement, we can literally out do ourselves, not only meeting but rising above our potential.

Coaching Inquiries: How often do you find yourself complaining or controlling situations? What would it take for you to become more proactive and successful in tending the positive core? How could the voices of those you live and work with feel safe and welcome in your presence? What resources are you failing to acknowledge and tend?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..


Your poem, “Change” Click, provoked for me the following reflections. Change brings possibility and change comes at every moment. Our life floats in a vast ocean of changes. So we swim in possibility. This does not make everything possible: change makes possible things that we could not see before, things that were hiding behind an unchanged world.


Thanks for your New Year’s poem. Beautifully said.


I love your new poem for the year! Thank you!!


Thank you for the very dynamic poem that assisted me with thinking and reflecting upon the new year.


Your new poem is wonderful and right on. Thanks and happy 2006 to you.


I liked the poem it was magnificent !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Beautiful poem! Thank you. And to you and yours a wondrous 2006 filled with love, peace, happiness, prosperity, and Spirit Blessings.


I loved your new poem! I have printed it off. It’s a keeper.



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services