Advice to Live By

RumiWe came across these Rumi quotations again recently and felt his words were worth sharing here on our blog.

Though written way back in the 13th century, they’re still relevant today.

Firstly, imagine a world in which every child, every human being, was assured of these things …

You were born with potential
You were born with goodness and trust
You were born with ideals and dreams
You were born with greatness
You were born with wings
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings
Learn to use them, and fly.

And here are some qualities to which we all could aspire. They’re great advice to live by if we want to experience a full and appreciative life. :)

Be like the water at generosity and support
Be like the sun at compassion and mercy
Be like the night at covering the faults of others
Be like a corpse at anger and violence
Be like the earth at modesty and unpretentiousness
Be like a sea at tolerance
Be as you are in truth, or be in truth as you present yourself.
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Embracing the Mystery:
Reflecting on Appreciative Inquiry

Hands holding globeThere are times in my life when I’ve seen a film or documentary, or read a book or blog post, that has resonated so deeply for me it has left me breathless and with tears in my eyes.

Reading Dr Samuel Mahaffy’s post Embrace the Mystery was one of those times. A time when someone else put into words exactly how I feel about Appreciative Inquiry.

As an AI practitioner himself, Dr. Mahaffy says, for example:

The chatter I hear in AI circles is more about methodology and less about the mystery. I wonder if we have lost some wonderment about the mystery in our collective search for ever-perfected techniques … I want to return to the mystery of Appreciative Inquiry. It called to my heart and not to my head … The mystery is the place of unknowing.

For me also, working with AI has always been about the mystery. The wonder of what it means to be human and alive in this amazing and diverse world of ours. To explore, with those around us, what it means to be part of this group, this family, this organisation, or this community. To embrace and somehow ‘hold the space’ that honours the delicious diversity and powerful paradoxes of human ideas, personalities, perspectives … and of our very existence.

It’s about articulating our dreams and highest hopes, about building bridges between us and understanding how we are all connected. It’s also about recognising that what unites us is far more powerful than what divides us … if we can only be open to seeing it.

It’s about finding a way to sit comfortably with uncertainty – with ‘unknowing’. And, even more powerfully, it’s beginning to understand that through embracing uncertainty we can create new and exciting possibilities for living, caring and working together towards a better world.

Appreciative Inquiry is about engaging genuinely and deeply with our fellow human beings – in every context. It’s about ‘generative’ conversations that take us beyond the known into the unknown, then further into a new way of knowing.

To do this I need to get to know you as deeply and respectfully as I can. I need to be genuinely curious about you, your hopes, your dreams .. and yes, your fears and your pain.

I know that last sentence may not sit comfortably with some AI folk. I can hear them say “No, surely that’s not AI – you’re sliding right back into a deficit conversation!” And I certainly agree it’s important not to dwell in the negatives – or stay in spaces where anxiety, fear, pain and anger prevail.

But for me, as an AI practitioner, it’s important to value and appreciate the whole of human experience. The dark side as well as the light, the painful and sad times as well as the joyful and aspirational ones. I need to see you, this organisation, this community, or this world as fully as possible; in as multi-faceted a way as I can. I need to honour you in all your wholeness and humanity. Only then can I play a part in helping you … helping us … transcend the ‘dark stuff’ on our journey to becoming the best we can be.

One of my favourite quotes is from the song Anthem, by Leonard Cohen:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
… That’s how the light gets in.

And, as another AI colleague and friend, Gervase Bushe once said, as AI practitioners we need to have:

a poetic ear, an eye for beauty, a keen sense of what others find inspiring, and an open heart to feel the unconscious yearning in the group

As an AI practitioner myself, these are the skills to which I’ve always aspired.

So all this is why reading Dr. Mahaffy’s post moved me to tears and took my breath away. It is because he speaks for me.

Appreciative Inquiry is not a ‘technique’. Nor is it a ‘tool’ that we use. It is an appreciative way of seeing and being in the world. It is about curiosity and compassion. It is about openness, honesty and generosity of spirit. It is all about the relationships we build with others … and it is truly about embracing the mystery.

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Workshops: Busy Bees

single-bee02-smWell, we’ve been busy bees, preparing for our workshops in Brisbane next week. I’m running an Aged Care Chair Chi Training Level One workshop and Sue is running A Taste of Appreciative Inquiry.

We’re also busy promoting our upcoming Adelaide workshops for the end of August. And on top of all that my bee legs are going to get a workout, as I’ll be promoting the possibility of running the Chair Chi Training Level One workshop(s) in Europe. I’ll be in Europe from 22 September to 5th October, but if I find work there I’ll extend my stay by an extra week. Fingers crossed.

In our business, as in most businesses, finding work is the hardest part. But for us the delivery is a real buzz!

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The Sound of Comfort

Hands playing harpMusic is a powerful thing. As we said in a previous blog post, Music and Memory, it can have the power to ‘bring to life’ elderly folk with dementia.

Or, as I also wrote some time before that, music transports us through time, connects us with other people, helps to heal wounds, makes us laugh, makes us cry and feeds the soul.

More recently we’ve discovered another powerful way in which music is used to make a significant difference – this time at the end of life for those in palliative care. It’s something called music thanatology, defined by Music-Thanatology Association International as:

a professional field within the broader sub-speciality of palliative care. It is a musical/clinical modality that unites music and medicine in end of life care. The music-thanatologist utilizes harp and voice at the bedside to lovingly serve the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the dying and their loved ones with prescriptive music.

Training programs for music thanatologists are currently only offered in the United States, although graduates of these programs work in many different parts of the world, including England, Japan, Israel, Scotland and the Netherlands.

To date, however, there is only one certified music thanatologists in Australia! His name is Peter Roberts and you can read more about him in The Sound of Comfort, an article published in Australian Ageing Agenda.

It’s an inspiring read! And The Harp and The Ferryman, a book Peter co-authored with Helen Cox, is definitely on my ‘books to read’ list, although time to do so has so far eluded me.

Peter is based in Geelong at the Institute of Music in Medicine, of which he is the founding director. So if you would like to learn more, you can contact the Institute – details are on their website.

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World Appreciative Inquiry Conference Adventures

Well, we’ve just been informed that the next World Appreciative Inquiry international conference is now official and will be held in South Africa, July 2015.Flying bird

Both Sue and I plan to attend.

The announcement has brought back memories of the wonderful times we had at previous AI conferences – 2009 in Kathmandu, Nepal and 2012 in Ghent, Belgium. Here are the Youtube clips we put together after we attended each of these conferences. Great memories!

Kathmandu – Nepal – 2009

Images Of Kathmandu 5.52 mins

A Chitwan Adventure – Nepal 5.30 mins

World Appreciative Inquiry Conference WAIC 2009 25.09 mins

Ghent – Belgium – 2012

Images of Ghent April 2012 10.47 mins

World Appreciative Inquiry Conference WAIC 2012 21.20 mins

We’re really looking forward to our next conference and catching up with all our mates. I think I’ll start packing now!

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Playful Inquiry: Try This Anyway

RobynStrattonBerkessel-TEDxRobyn Stratton-Berkessel, a colleague and dear friend of ours, is an ‘expat Aussie’ now living and working in the US. Robyn is also a highly experience practitioner of Appreciative Inquiry.

Recently Robyn was asked to speak at TEDxNavesink, an independently organised TEDx event. As Robyn said about her presentation:

The theme for this TEDx event is “Play”. It was a no brainer for me that “play” is a key outcome of engaging with people and groups through the lens of Appreciative Inquiry. When we ask people to discover the best of themselves and a situation, in their minds they access a positive resourceful state and there’s a rush of oxytocin – the “hormone of attachment” and bottom line – you feel better! A reservoir of positivity is unleashed.

Watch Robyn’s talk below and be inspired to engage in your own ‘playful inquiry’ … and perhaps experience the world a little differently’ !

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Kids: Sales and Customer

Here’s an enjoyable ‘Kid Snippets’ segment written by children and performed by adults. The children were asked to pretend to be a customer and a salesman and this is what they came up with. Kid Snippets

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