Last week, I gave my first presentation to the leadership team. I’m new to the team and I laid out my plans for the next 12 months.
Overall, it went well. I made some good points and there was vocal support for the changes I proposed but there was one part where I stumbled and it was really awkward.
I can’t get that out of my head. It’s all I can think about.
Obsessed and Not in a Good Way
First off, I’m glad the meeting went well.
Internal presentations are important as they are sometimes the only, or major, impression that some key co-workers have of us. And, we know perception is essentially reality.
Plus, none of is perfect and the fact that your presentation wasn’t flawless just confirms that you’re human like the rest of us.
AND, I want to urge you to focus on what went right and build on that.
It sounds like 95% of it went well and you have fallen into a trap of focusing on the 5% that didn’t.
If you believe that what we focus on gets bigger, then bear with me as I introduce you to Appreciative Inquiry, or AI.
AI comes from positive psychology. The basic message is this: instead of looking for problems (and finding them!) and then developing solutions to those problems, AI seeks to identify what has gone well (appreciate) and then analyzes and develops a strategy (inquiry) to get more of it.
While this mindset is usually applied to organizations and change management efforts, I think it can be applied at an individual level as well.
Let’s explore how to build on the 95% that did go well.
The AI model provides a useful structure and has five steps:
DEFINE: What is your topic?
Let’s say business presentations.
DISCOVERY: Appreciating the best of what is.
Specifically, what is it that went well? Reflect on your own efforts, how others contributed and any systemic (organization) factors that were helpful.
DREAM: Envisioning what could be. Imagine an ideal outcome. What does it look like? Feel like? How have you contributed to it? Who else has had positive impact and it what way? Recast the issue from a problem to be solved to an affirmative topic.
DESIGN: Co-Constructing what should be. Look for examples of what has occurred that you want more of.
Draft some affirmative statements (also known as provocative propositions) of what you want to realize.
Then, check these statements to make sure they are challenging, innovative and a stretch; they are grounded in examples of what has actually happened; they resonate and there is enough passion to persevere; they are in the present tense (as though they were already true); and, while they are bold, they are achievable.
DESTINY: Create what will be.
Into action! Whether you are working with others, which is a big advantage as a group’s energy helps propel the effort forward, or on your own, the fact that the desired future is derived from reality (what has already occurred), we know we can achieve our goal.
Even if your Destiny is mostly your own objective (such as your future business presentations), collaborating is an advantage in achieving success.
You don’t need to do this, or anything for that matter, alone.
My advice is to stop looking for problems to solve and instead mine for the gold in your positive experiences.
You don’t even need to let go of thinking about the bad 5%.
If you really focus on what you want more of (a shift in your obsessing), the negatives will just slip away. . .