I’ve reached that stage in life where I sometimes look for things I already have: the glasses I’m looking at the world through, the cell phone I’m making a call with, the car keys in my pocket.
And it’s instructive, mostly because it has little to do with age and lots to do with attention.
How do we honor what’s already present in our lives? How can we practice the kind of appreciation that enhances our awareness of the skills and resources available to us? And how could acknowledging the good that’s already around us help us to become even more effective wherever we are and whatever we’re working on?
Appreciative inquiry is a formal method for recognizing existing resources and the potentials they make possible. For nearly thirty years, it’s supported non-profit organizations and businesses in releasing critical auditing or assessment methods and taking a more open, constructive approach.
Traditional critical methods often ask what’s missing and who’s not here rather than what’s already on the table and who among us could have more to share if given the opportunity. By contrast, appreciative inquiry invites users to discover what’s present in an organization or community, dream about that group’s potentials, and design ways to draw those potentials to the surface.
In the context of sufficiency, appreciation becomes a powerful, intentional practice of creating new value through our deliberate attention to the value of what we already have. Our attention enlarges and enriches our experience of whatever is before us.” —Lynne Twist
So appreciative inquiry can help us to revise our views of the status quo and, with that, revise our sense of our options too. In contexts where we might not immediately be able to fix issues by throwing new people, new funds, or new shiny gadgets at them, we can do so much more when we’re willing to fully appreciate what we’ve got.