Category Archives: Words Create Worlds®

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Words Create Worlds ® – November 2015 Newsletter

November is the month of Thanksgiving! For our friends that reside outside of the U.S., Thanksgiving is a National holiday in the U.S. and is a time for family, friends, thankfulness, and reflection. A day set aside to be thankful and, more importantly, to let others know that you are thankful. In this time of economic and environmental uncertainty, it may be a challenge for some to be grateful. Yet, just like Fall in the air, we are getting a slight whisper of change.

We invite each of you to join in the high energy and well-being that gratitude brings to each of us. Thankful for love, family, friends, health, happiness, children, food, flowers – the list is as bountiful as your imagination and heart can dream. Each of us can begin by asking ourselves and our friends a question that will focus on the best of what we want in the future, “Think back over this past year and share a story about a time that you felt most thankful…one that felt most warm and meaningful. Who was there? What made it so wonderful? What made it so special?”

Have a wonderful and bountiful week. We thank each of you for sharing your stories of success – seeking the high points to learn, adapt and thrive. Your stories bring such light into our office and to our work.

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Words Create Worlds ® – October 2015 Newsletter

Summer. Spring. Winter. Fall.  When you think of the seasons, which one draws you to it? What is it about that season? What is your best experience there? What were you doing and who were you with? Does where you live affect your perception of the seasons? What could alter or change your perception or thoughts about each season? I am putting forward a notion that Fall is awesome.

Growing up in a beach city in Southern California I don’t remember even thinking about the seasons. When the weather remains fairly constant – seasons really meant school or no school. I loved the beach, the weather and value my visits there even more than when I lived there.

Now. I live in the desert. Fall is my favorite part of the year. After a brutally long and hot summer, the coolness of Fall is so welcome. There is a newness in the air. We can venture out of our summer AC cocoon and venture outside during the day. Gardens are abundant and patios hum with laughter and good times. This is our second spring, they like to say here.

Perceptions change. When we begin new journeys with new experiences and people we open ourselves to new possibilities.  Working with the Center for Appreciative inquiry has given me the skills and the interest to look at each day as though it is an open book (Poetic Principle in Appreciative Inquiry) to foster a fresh perception of each day and the gifts before me. I can open the page, dig in and find the best.

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Words Create Worlds ® – September 2015 Newsletter – Dedicated to Charles Miller

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we share with you the passing of Charles Miller. Charles was so much to so many of us. Charles was the co-founder, with Nancy Stetson, of the Company of Experts and the Center for Appreciative Inquiry. Together they mentored thousands of people around the globe in the art of Appreciative Inquiry.

Charles was my AI guide, mentor and coach. What stands out for me is that he was a learner who found great joy in sharing this passion with others. He worked on many trainings and consulting projects that touched the lives of thousands of people — those people are out in all parts of the World creating positive change.

His sudden passing has us in shock. Some of the reflections that we have heard over the past few days are: mentor, inspiration, coach, wisdom, deep spirit of life and energy, and that he always taught us through his actions that life is about relationships. Below is just but one example:

“Like a great many of the people whose lives Charles touched and affected in powerful ways, I first got to know him as a “student” of his, when I was a participant in one of the early Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Trainings in St. Louis nearly fifteen years ago.  The lessons I drew from that experience, and from the professional and personal relationship we developed afterward, have been some of the most important and meaningful in my life and career.  I learned to trust my optimistic instincts, and to believe in the process of appreciation and inquiry.  I learned to “look under the hood” at the mechanics of instructional design, in order to be a more effective teacher and facilitator.  I re-learned the importance of “wholeness,” and bringing everyone into the room.  And perhaps most importantly, with Charles I was always reminded about the value of seeing the world around us through eyes that wonder, and marvel at the abundance and beauty of it all.” ~ Lane Glenn, College President and Certified Ai Trainer

Charles is a good example of not just being the best in the World, but the best FOR the World. He will live on in the hearts of all the people he touched.

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Words Create Worlds ® – August 2015 Newsletter

Summer is underway in Southern Nevada. The rays of light penetrate through the clouds – giving us the warmth that a ” being” finds refreshing, invigorating and energizing. Mother Earth is giving us the entrée to be out and about creating, imagining, & celebrating “what if “?

What does “What if ” mean for you, a friend, family member or those you work with on a daily basis? In reading a quote from Henry Ford, his “what if” might have been, “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.” To me, it means working with others – using ones imagination to be able to feel a change, see it, sense it, feel it and best of all redirect my focus to possibilities. No matter the descriptor or definition it is working and communicating with others. It is about us, all of us.

Recently, we had the opportunity to read and review the fine work (practicums) of many of those that have joined us at our Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Trainings somewhere throughout the world. The stories are touching, encouraging and most of all speak of individuals coming together with a common purpose and outcome, as Henry Ford stated, “…working together is success.”

Individually, what small step can we take today that will help us create a positive difference for others?

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Words Create Worlds ® – July 2015 Newsletter

We do not always know where our decisions will lead us or the people we will meet along the way. When I began my Appreciative Inquiry journey in 2000, I had no idea that I would be interviewed in 2015 by Robyn Stratton-Berkessel of Positivity Strategist.

Robyn and I connected via social media and had a few conversations earlier this year. We knew we wanted to work together and that we wanted to share with others how Appreciative Inquiry has changed our lives and the lives of people we connect with.  When Robyn suggested that we record a podcast where we interview each other around our experiences with Core Teams, I was unsure how this would work or even what this would be like.

An inquiry (discovery) is a powerfully instrument in human connection. As a facilitator, I recede from intruding on this profound human interaction. The idea of conducting an inquiry virtually raised questions, such as “What would the interview look like in a virtual format?” “Would we feel that connection to one another like we do when engaging in a face-to-face inquiry?” “Would we be able to allow the inquiry to flow or would we feel rushed?” “Would our stories translate to a broader audience?” or “Would we forget that we are recording because we are completely engaged?” As this was Robyn’s first interview of this type for her website, she too wondered how this would play out. We knew that we MUST leap forward and embrace the opportunity.

Robyn was at her recording studio and I in my office across the country – yet distance did not impede on this remarkable experience. We reviewed the appreciative interview questions and then Robyn gently explained how the recording process works. The nervousness I felt regarding the equipment and the idea of recording for others just floated away.  The podcast experience was remarkably easy and quite enjoyable! Meeting Robyn and having this experience with her has been a gift to me. I knew these stories of Core Teams were all powerful, yet I had not spent a lot of time reflecting on their meaning to me.

Part 1 and 2 of mine and Robyn’s podcast can be found in this month’s Words Create Worlds© newsletter. Please enjoy!

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Words Create Worlds ® – June 2015 Newsletter

The angst of change is all around us. Today’s workplace requires that we do more with less and we must quickly adapt or risk becoming obsolete. When considering a change initiative, what do you, or your organization, focus your time and energy on?

Jim Pulliam, a retired college president, said it best. Reflecting upon his leadership role, he told me that so often conversations are centered around “things, buildings, materials, and resources. But, not much was said about what was most important – the collective WE.” That is what he identified as the importance of an Inquiry (or any intervention) – it is not necessarily about the outcomes, but about providing “VOICE” to all — collectively, what do WE want more of? Together how can WE make this happen? It is about us, all of us.

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” ~ Niccolo Machiavelli

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Words Create Worlds ® – May 2015 Newsletter

Just in awe…

I know all of you teachers, trainers, facilitators and AI Practitioners have experienced one of those high energy moments, and just felt “How lucky I am to be here at this time, with these great people and doing this amazing work”. Can you recall a time where you were just awed by the experience? If I am honest, I feel that way always when I am using AI these days – have the times changed or have I?

Recently I was co-training with Jim Pulliam and Melissa Robaina – and everyone was feeling it. You could feel it and hear it in the stories they were sharing, in the trust, the depth, the focus on each other. On day four of our Ai Facilitator Training, I was asked if it would be okay to share a poem at the start of the day. Don’t you just love it when people want to make the training their own? I had no idea what we were in for.

It was more like a one-man show as he slowly stood, looked around the room, and with the grace and command of Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain he filled the room with his presence and began the most beautiful rendition of ” Song Before Breakfast” by Ogden Nash from memory – no notes!

In our silence, we all connected deeper as we were pulled into our own complex emotions through his tender words, the inflection in his voice and the intensity of his eyes. When he was finished we sat silent and reflected. He told us the story and importance of this poem to him.  As a youngster his father would wake him just after daylight each morning and recite the poem with passion and bravado as he had just now. He pulled open the blinds and begin “Hopeful each morning I arise” through to the closing “If I should fail you, do not sorrow; I’ll be a better man tomorrow”. His gift to his son, and all these years later a gift to friends who just yesterday were strangers.

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Words Create Worlds ® – April 2015 Newsletter

I cannot stop thinking about Nepal! Days after the massive earthquake hit, help is beginning to arrive in Nepal. Many of the victims are in hard to reach, rural mountain areas. In addition to their remoteness, many do not have access to the heavy equipment needed to move the mountains of brick or mud from their homes or streets. As a result, they are still sleeping outside, have scarce food and water supply, and no electricity.

With the steady stream of news coverage following the earthquake, we are learning how hard it is to live apart from our friends – not being able to connect with the people you worry about who are directly impacted by this natural disaster.

Ezelle Theunissen and I have been working with a large team in Asia for nearly a year as part of our work with the Center for Appreciative Inquiry. This team is made up of smaller teams from several Asian countries, including Nepal.  Just one month ago Ezelle and I were in Nepal meeting with this team – reacquainting with familiar faces, as well as making new friends.

Each day Ezelle and I wait anxiously for news that someone we know is safe. We have become fixated with WhatsApp, a text messaging app, which has allowed our friends to update their status. Today’s text messages consist of: “my village is destroyed,” “In Bhaktapur area for food distribution,” and “children and the infirmed having to be outside and in the rain without drinking water and sanitation”. Yet, we hear again and again that the people’s love and emotional support has been enormous. This story is not about us, rather how we might help, when we feel so helpless.

With most of the World still in an economic funk, it may be hard for to financially donate; yet, there are other ways to help Nepal earthquake victims.

When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.” – Pauline R. Kezer

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Words Create Worlds ® – March 2015 Newsletter

Recently, early one morning, I stopped by a retail store to pick up several items. As I was checking-out, the young man behind the counter asked with a smile, “what is the best thing that has happened to you today?” Frankly, I was taken aback by his question. As an Ai Practitioner, I am often the one asking others affirmative questions, such as the one he asked me, but at that moment, my mind was consumed with daily work responsibilities – emails to send, papers to review, calls to make, etc. His question was a pleasant disruption.

After a moment of reflection I offered a response that fostered a conversation. In turn, I invited him to share his best experience for the day. Thomas, the young cashier’s name, shared that he awoke each morning to write on a white board the “best of the best” which he would seek out each day and reflect upon each evening. Leaving the retail center I realized I had found my “best of the best” that day – as I had the privilege of meeting Thomas.

So, what is the best thing that has happened to you today?

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Words Create Worlds ® – February 2015 Newsletter

People who are new to Appreciative Inquiry are extremely inquisitive – about problems, about conflict. How do we “handle” them with Appreciative Inquiry? How do we “manage” the interruptions? How do we find the “solutions”?

These questions resembled my own curiosity at the start of my Ai journey. As Director of Human Resources, much of my time was spend solving problems and resolving conflict. According to the Poetic Principle in Appreciative Inquiry, what we choose to concentrate on makes a difference. What aspects of a situation do we focus on?

Society, collectively, is taught to focus on the problem and only the problem. To forge ahead, we repeatedly make decisions to “do this or that” (referred to as either/or mentality). By viewing and operating in the world through an ‘either/or’ lens, we are limiting our view of reality to just two ways of seeing it; however, by adopting the Appreciative ‘both/and’ mentality – constantly asking ourselves and others ‘what might be…” – we open our world to endless possibilities and opportunities.

With the barrage of negative media that surrounds us, it is easy to lose sight of the good that transpires around us on a daily basis. Making the paradigm shift from either/or to both/and is no easy feat and requires mindful, daily practice and intention.

We each have our own journey to walk. As change agents, our purpose is not to ‘fix’ problems; rather our work is to guide others to celebrate what’s good, seek out opportunities, and dream of the possibilities.

Several years ago I saved a quote that, in this moment, reflects my thoughts and demonstrates the importance of remaining open, inquisitive and curious. “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” ~ Thomas Alva Edison

Have you made the shift? If so, how do you continue to practice a both/and mentality?

Appreciatively,

Kathy Becker, President
Company of Experts/Center for Appreciative Inquiry

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