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Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
— Mark Twain

In graduate school while studying organizational development I was first introduced to the concept of appreciative inquiry.  For those unfamiliar with the term, appreciative inquiry is: 

"The cooperative search for the best in people, their organizations, and the world around them. It involves systematic discovery of what gives a system ‘life’ when it is most effective and capable in economic, ecological, and human terms. AI involves the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to heighten positive potential.”  1

My early exposure to appreciative inquiry really changed my perspective on things.  It led me to start, Groove Management, a consulting practice focused on helping individuals and organizations to maximize performance by focusing on strengths.  Unfortunately Groove Management was put on the back burner because I had a full time job and other commitments.

For the past ten plus years, I have worked to apply appreciative inquiry and the Groove Management approach in my work and personal life.  What I have found is that the concept is easy to understand, but the application can be tough.  The culture of an organization is a very difficult to change and we often compromise ourselves in order to fit in with the culture.  Having spent years in an organization that embraced the saying “race to red," meaning run to the problems, it was almost impossible to apply appreciative inquiry in that environment.  

To be an agent of change, we must start by changing ourselves.  Call it a midlife crisis or the realization that I know what my groove is and now is the time to get it on.  To begin 2014 I said goodbye to the corporate world and chose to pursue my passion and my groove full time.  Groove Management has gone from a pet project to my full time pursuit.  Along the way I have learned a number of things about myself. From my experience I have identified five keys to success at work and to achieving personal happiness.

  1. Identify your core strength.  This is at a minimum one thing that you do extremely well.  Your core strength should be something that comes naturally to you and doesn’t require extra effort to prove successful. 

  2. Be more courageous.  It took me over ten years to muster the courage to leave corporate America to pursue Groove Management full time. Have the courage to pursue the things that make you happy now.  Stay true to your convictions at work and in your personal life.  If your views are inconsistent with your organization’s or those around you, chances are you need to move on.

  3. Follow your passion.  If you love doing something, find a way to make it your job.  Life is too short to spend it doing things that you are not passionate about.

  4. Surround yourself with positive people who look for the possibilities in things rather than the problems.  Positive people can really lift your spirits and that positive energy is contagious.

  5. Find someone to serve as your coach or mentor.  Make certain the person is familiar with appreciative inquiry.  Their goal is to bring out the best in you.  Too many coaches spend their time trying to “fix” people.  You want a coach that works to accentuate your positives. 

While it is still pretty early in my pursuits with Groove Management, I can already say, I have never been happier.  I am healthier, I get to spend more time with my family, I get to do the work I love which is helping people and organizations to embrace a more positive outlook.

My biggest question to myself is, what took me so long to recognize that I was spending my time problem solving in an organization rather than getting my groove on?

  • Identify your core strengths
  • Build your courage
  • Teach you to follow your passion
  • Help you to surround yourself with positive people
  • Coach you for success and happiness

Let Groove Management help you get your groove on.  Contact us today to learn more about our coaching and organizational development programs.

1 Cooperrider, D.L. & Whitney, D., “Appreciative Inquiry: A positive revolution in change.” In P. Holman & T. Devane (eds.), The Change Handbook, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., pages 245-263.