Recently, on our Transformational Girlfriends blog (more about that in a moment) my friend and colleague and, as she calls herself (and is) my muse Susan Meyer wrote some insightful thoughts about the role of the Shadow in Appreciative Inquiry.
Susan Meyer writes...
"I am in the midst of a wonderful dialogue about the role of the Shadow in Appreciative Inquiry. This is shadow in the sense of the darker or unexpressed side, not Shadow in the sense of observer, as coined by Donna Karlin. Often, we work hard to eliminate anything that isn’t positive, light, cheerful. People say, “don’t dwell on the negative” or “lighten up” or “focus on the positive” as if it was possible to have a one-sided emotional spectrum. But the world is not one-sided. Emotions run a full range from joy to sorrow, ecstasy to depression. There is room for fear and anger alongside courage and compassion. In fact, how could one exist without the other? How could there be light without darkness? Day without night? Each shade in any spectrum has its own place.
I gained an new understanding of the word appreciation this morning. We have come to think of appreciation in a context drawn from finance - to grow in worth - and have come to see appreciation as solely positive. In a purer sense, though, to appreciate is to value - a term open to both light and shadow. I may appreciate the many joys in my life, and I may also appreciate the sorrows because of what they have taught me. As a coach and as a consultant, I can appreciate the shadow side of situations and experiences simply because they exist. As a practicing transformational girlfriend, I can allow space for the shadow side without encouraging permanent residence in that place and I can mine the shadows for the rich experiences that will inform the light."
As Coaches we are taught to look for the best in people, to look for talents and strengths and to help our clients evolve because of them. As a Shadow Coach™, one who sees all sides to a person, especially their shadow personalities, I believe we become stronger, not only as we recognize and hone our talents and strengths but when we pay attention to our shadow personalities, accept them as an integral part of who we are and work with them as well. We have to accept all of who we are and make those choices that will help us evolve because of all of who we are, not just a select piece of our true selves.
Transformational Girlfriends is a group of "stellar women involved in the transformation of organizations, people’s lives, and yes, even global events. Truly incredible transformational women." We started off as 8 in a house in Connecticut, women who not only grow people for a living but are all individually reknowned and masterful in their areas of expertise. We figured we can really pack a punch globally if we got together to create transformative change.
So keep watching because we're working on some truly transformational things. I'll keep you posted!
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And lastly but never least for those of you who want to explore diversity and cross cultural issues in the workplace, ICCO (The International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations) are hosting an international symposium in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, October 11 - 13th, 2007 on Leveraging Cultural Differences.
Participants will explore the idea of effectively operating in different cultural contexts is the integration and transformation of cultural knowledge, self/other awareness, and sensitivity to differences. The three cross-cultural contexts are interdependent and need to operate simultaneously. Appreciate how to leverage these three to move your organization forward.
Registration is capped at 30 attendees, so register as soon as possible to ensure a place in this cutting-edge event. Click here for more information or to register