When you study to be a coach, you are influenced by many different theories and philosophies. You learn a lot about values, life purpose, and how to live with integrity. People come to coaching because they want more from their lives. Often, there is a disconnect between what people desire from life and what they are experiencing. Hence, the job of a coach is to help the client gain clarity and during that process, together we explore how to make the most out of life, how to connect with the strengths, values and intrinsic potential that we all possess as human beings.

Hence my interest this week in revisiting a philosophy that has been used very effectively in the work place for many years, but that has been used for personal goals with equally satisfying effects. It is known as Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and the foundation of this theory is a blend of appreciation and inquiry.

Appreciation refers to recognizing the best of life; validating the strengths, successes and peak performances from the past and the present while affirming the health and vitality attributes or other things that give life to living things.

Inquiry is related to discovery and exploration of new possibilities by opening up to its potential.

AI was first introduced based on the work by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva in the 1980’s. As mentioned earlier, AI is very well utilized in the workplace inferring that by looking at the strengths, organizations and businesses are in a better position to achieve organizational excellence. This is contrary to a ‘problem solving’ approach where we search for what is wrong with the intention of fixing it. On the other hand, the very essence of the Appreciative Inquiry theory applies perfectly in the personal development arena. Why? Because as we combine the two arts of focusing on what works well with applying those character traits or strengths into life’s infinite possibilities, we can see how each of us individuals, have a huge opportunity to launch into areas in which we would not have ventured before.

So, in short AI will place big emphasis on what gives us life when we are most driven, effective, constructive and capable. It has been said, that this is a new way of being, acting and thinking in life because we see what others don’t. We do that by asking questions that will increase the awareness of the positive both past and present thus, elevating our ability to seize opportunities, achieve more of those high moments and perceive the potential future with innovative and visionary results.

The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but seeing with new eyes. ~Marcel Proust

Appreciative Inquiry involves four stages:
-Discovery: Assess what gives life? Value the best of what is. Analyze/capture the strengths
-Dream: What is possible? What am I called to be? Envision the future with imagination
-Design: What do I want? Align my values and create structures and relationships that support the plan
-Destiny: How to sustain the design? How to be flexible and able to adapt and still keep the dream intact

This is the kind of idea that totally moves me. I love to experiment with ways to enhance productivity and self-development. I find that so often we get stuck because we don’t realize how great we really are. Or we get intimidated by a new challenge, forgetting that we have been there before and conquered so many times! By replacing criticism, diagnosis and self-limiting beliefs with excitement about unexplored potential, new benchmarks to be reached, manifesting values and creating lives full of wisdom, connected with our core values we can start moving in the direction of realizing life’s full potential and authoring a life that we are truly passionate about because it is a life that we design and in which we are full participants. Using the principles of AI, you can quickly begin to inject positive change and energy that comes from those things that give you life, to manifest in greater, innovative and rich experiences in every aspect of your life. Allow yourself the opportunity to discover, dream, design and live your destiny.

If you are stuck in a negative downward spiral and don’t know how to get out, or if you know that you can achieve more but are not sure of where to start; life coaching might be for you.
© 2010 Maria Martinez

Author's Bio: 

Maria Martinez is a Personal Development Coach; she works with with individuals who want to untap their potential, achieve greater levels of success and live happier, healthier lives. By providing support and accountability, individuals reach higher and greater goals; balance life at work and at home; and enjoy time doing things they most love. ‘Create the life you want; Start within.’

For more information about Maria Martinez and coaching services go towww.inneractivecoachingonline.com or via e-mail: inneractivecoaching@gmail.com