Just as asking life-affirming questions and using bold, provocative language lead to transformation in organizations, those behaviors can initiate equally dramatic results in one's personal life. The principles of Appreciative Inquiry hold true in any context: the questions we ask point us in the direction of the things we will find. If we seek people, situations, and behaviors that are positive, we certainly will find them - in abundance. In contrast, when we find negative things, most likely it is because we are looking for them, intentionally or otherwise. And their numbers will be legion.

To see how easy it is to change our behavior by the perspectives we choose, try this quick exercise. Think of an upcoming social engagement or event about which you feel ambivalent. Now jot down all the reasons why your going would be a really bad idea. Your list is likely to cause you to decline the invitation immediately! Next, write down all the reasons why you would love to attend. Without a doubt, that list will make you wonder why you ever considered skipping the event!

The point is, the way we talk to ourselves (and others) creates our reality, which means that we get to choose how to experience the situations with which we are faced. Do we want to go down a life-affirming path, or an energy-draining path? Our behavior will follow the images we envision based on the words we select and the questions we ask. Each of us has total control over our language. By the questions we pose, we can guide others to go in positive or negative directions as well.

Here are a dozen suggestions for affirmative self-talk that can dramatically affect your perspective:

  1. What are my most exceptional qualities?
  2. How do I feel when I am most alive and energized?
  3. In what ways do I inspire others?
  4. What is the kindest thing I can do for myself today?
  5. What opportunities are presented in this seemingly negative situation?
  6. If someone else were in my situation, what is the most uplifting advice I could provide?
  7. What strengths have made me successful in my personal relationships?
  8. What is the most inspiring thing I have seen or heard today?
  9. How can I incorporate those things I am most passionate about into my everyday life?
  10. What do I value most about the talents I have been given?
  11. What am I most proud of achieving in my life up until now?
  12. If my friends were recommending me for a job for which I am fully qualified, what would they say?

Pat Lynch, Ph.D., is President of Business Alignment Strategies, Inc., a consulting firm that helps clients optimize business results by aligning people, programs, and processes with organizational goals. You may contact Pat or call (562) 985-0333.

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