Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tip of the day: Appreciative Inquiry

One of my favorite classes from my Psych program in grad school was Appreciative Inquiry. The concept is so basic but yet so foreign for our society. Here's an excerpt:

AI involves, in a central way, the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to apprehend, anticipate, and heighten positive potential.

Unfortunately being an over-achieving Asian makes it damn near impossible to appreciate my successes.

It's too easy for us to overlook our achievements and focus merely on the shortcomings. We live in a society that perpetuates the glass-half-empty perspective. It's all about "keeping up with the Joneses" and getting what we want rather than wanting what we have. I'll be the first to admit. I so often forget what I've accomplished in the last year and a half. We're so goal-oriented that as soon as we pass a milestone we forget about it and already we're looking forward to the next one.

But it ain't right.

Celebrate your achievements. What you accomplish in life (including but not limited to photography) is significant. By examining and acknowledging your successes and why they work, you can strengthen your strengths... and Peter Drucker taught that this was a lot more important than shoring up your weaknesses.

Not appreciating our successes is to belittle and ultimately write-off the journey that we took to enable that success. If we've learned anything over the past year it's that write-offs are bad for learning. What is our life is not the journey? If we can't appreciate our successes then how do we validate our existence? Based upon what we've failed to achieve? Horse shit.

The expectations are to blame... but they're self-imposed aren't they? I know mine are. If I spent more time celebrating my successes, rather than overlooking them as expected victories, I think I'd be a happier person. More importantly, I'd be a better photographer...

I believe that if you examine what you're good at... what you're really good at, and you build upon those strengths, by golly you'll have a competitive advantage in this industry (or any industry for that matter). A competitive advantage that no one will be able to take away from you or compete with. And if you keep celebrating and building on your successes, you'll ultimately be untouchable.

Besides, life's too damn short for us to take everything for granted. So go on and appreciate!

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