Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Principle of Simultaneity

A barn in disrepair near Seneca Lake
It has been a busy couple of weeks...let me catch you up!

I finally negotiated a reasonable separation from work. I finished up my last project, emailed it in. Handed my laptop over to the IT guy I trust and left my keys in a manila envelope for HR and walked away. No "goodbye". No group "I'll miss you". No tears. Woke up the next morning feeling better than I have in months. Huge weight off my shoulders.

Three days later I was on my way to the Finger Lakes in NY State for a visit with the gentleman I am dating. We had a good time. He's teaching me to fish. Don't tell him, but what I really like most is being out on the boat in the middle of the lake! So far the fishing is fine, because we haven't caught anything; thus I haven't had to do a thing. Our weather was cloudy, cool and at times rainy. On the other hand, for a gal who would tell you straight up that she doesn't eat or like fish, the lake trout was "delish" and the lake salmon is nothing like Pacific Northwest Salmon...and it was really good as well (I had a bite and then concentrated on my pork chop!).

After five days on Seneca Lake, I rented a car and drove from Rochester, NY to Newark, NJ with a stop to have coffee and conversation with one of my Aunts aka Best Friend. I enjoyed our visit and the conversation took an interesting twist...more about that in a later paragraph. After leaving her, I headed through NY State, into Pennsylvania and onto old stomping ground!  Had dinner with good friends. While driving I realized that I met them in 1987 when we were both "Mom's" of newborns with toddler daughters at the local library story hour!  Here we are, 28 years later having dinner together as if no time has gone by. The next night I had dinner with another great friend, a colleague that I began working with in the mid-90's. Such a great time.

A Finger Lakes vineyard
The other reason I was in Newark, NJ was to start the process of becoming certified in Appreciative Inquiry. The class was great, I am super excited. And much of my life seems to be coalescing around some very interesting themes.

While I am visiting my gentleman friend, he makes a comment that gets me thinking about my self-esteem issues. While visiting with my Aunt, I'm telling her about my career transition coaching work, and how it has been focused on function vs. dysfunction, and strengths vs. deficits. During the conversation she tells me how she wishes I could move on, could more easily let go. For example, around my divorce (hello, almost 21 years ago!). Of course, she doesn't know that I have one of my Mother's skirts in my closet from 1949! She shares that she and her sister/my other aunt, see so much in me that is positive (things I struggle to see). I have a "cute little body" (my gentleman friend thinks so as well, me not so much). That I am smart and have accomplished so much professionally (again, the gentleman friend thinks so as well, but then I am unemployed so you can guess what I think!). I'm working and focused on finding and affirming myself in a more realistic and positive way. The career work has been jump-starting a new set of synapses for me. The realization that I have way more peaks on my timeline than valleys. Cool stuff.

Then I wind up at The Center for Applied Appreciative Inquiry at the School of Public Affairs and Administration, Rutgers University-Newark. Jaw-Dropping!  Eye-Opening! I learned so much and as this is an 8-month course, there is much more to learn.

Life doesn't get more beautiful than this. I am blessed.
In a nutshell, Appreciative Inquiry is an approach for engaging people (including yourself) and organizations to produce effective, positive change. You don't start with what is wrong, or what the problem is. You don't conduct a "root cause analysis". You reframe everything to be about "high points". As a personal example, in exploring the career stuff, I identified a decade where nearly everything I did at work was a high point. I was in school and learning stuff. I took what I was learning back to work. I attended conferences and learned more stuff. Then I presented stuff I learned at work and at conferences. I felt smart and accomplished. I was recognized and affirmed. All of which drove me to learn new stuff. What a great reinforcement circle.

So I learned a bunch of things in our first two days of class. Right now, I am excited about the Principle of Simultaneity; change happens with the first question. And how that question is phrased sets the stage. Will the answer be grounded in deficits or in strengths? Think about it. So simple, yet so profound.

What's next? A job interview in Denver this coming week. A grand baby due within a couple of weeks. So busy. So much to look forward to. Some how I have to make time to get my house ready to sell! I am a happy, busy girl.

Call to Action!

Are you struggling with something at home, at work, or within yourself? Reframe it! Ask yourself these questions:
  • Reflect Back: Recall a time when you felt most alive, effective, engaged. Describe how you felt and what made the situation possible?
  • Explore Inward: What did you value most about this time? Without being humble ('cause that's easy!) describe what you value most about yourself, the work that you do and the situations that you are in.
  • Look Forward: Describe three concrete wishes for yourself.
Try it. I think you may find it incredibly empowering. As always, pretty please leave a comment (although few do!). I'd love to know what if any of this resonates with you.

Maybe the next time I post, I'll be a Grandma. I need a Grandma me out!!

As always, giving credit where credit is due:

Thanks to Jim Davy of Rutgers University for the course!

Photographs are all mine!

1 comment:

  1. I never knew I had the ability to comment when I read Soudain Soixante through my emails! I wish there had been enough time in your NJ visit for me to have spent some time with you- miss you so much. You're going to laugh when you see what I loved most about today's reading- how do you not know you have a cute little body?! I've always seen you as this strong, super intelligent, beautiful, generous woman. I had no idea you didn't view yourself the same way!