Appreciative Inquiry: Why I Choose to See the World through Rose-Colored Glasses

Rose-Colored Glasses by rnjtc1, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  rnjtc1


I hit a bump in the road last week, while traveling on my personal Connected Coaching journey. It was actually a bit more than a bump… Maybe I took a wrong turn somewhere and got a lost for a little while. Ok, let’s be honest here. I think I may have skidded off the road entirely, ended up in a ditch, and needed someone to pull me out! Regardless, thanks to an amazing community of leaders and learners, I think I’ve found my way back.  🙂

I was really upset when I ended up in that ditch. I felt like I was the only one there, while everyone else was cruising merrily down the Connected Coaching highway. I was sure I was the only one who didn’t “get it.” I wanted to shut down. I started thinking that maybe Connected Coaching wasn’t for me. Holy cow – Is this similar to what my students feel like when they face struggles in their learning??? It was amazing how quickly my confidence was shaken. I was much like the students I teach – so wired for grades, performance, and success that “failure” of any kind became unacceptable and debilitating.

I lost sight of an important fact: In any learning experience, some bumps, wrong turns, and yes, even ditches can and will happen.

Time for some reflection… But instead of asking, “What went wrong?” I’ve chosen to don some “rose-colored glasses” and take an Appreciative Inquiry approach. This is new for me, and is precisely why I ended up in the Appreciative Inquiry Ditch!! In fact, I did some research on seeing the world through rose-colored glasses, and found some interesting benefits

So what went RIGHT, you ask? What an outstanding Appreciative Inquiry question! Here are the great things that happen when you end up in a ditch:

  • You figure out how you got there. Once you’ve assessed the immediate damage, you look back and try to figure out what happened. You thought you were cruising along just fine, and didn’t realize there was something important you needed to know to stay on track.
  • You cry out for help. I did this, in the form of a post on our Connected Coaches Ning page. I placed a “911” call to my learning community, and sure enough, someone came to my rescue with some resources to help.
  • You find courage, support, and validation from your community. In addition to the resources I received, I also heard from folks who said they had felt the same way. I wasn’t alone! Some others held me up, and encouraged me, or thanked me for putting my thoughts out there.
  • You might help others out of their ditches. Hence this post… If nothing else, I want you to know that once you get pulled out of that ditch, you’re better for it. You’re stronger, smarter, and better prepared for the road ahead.

More than ever, I want to strengthen my ability to use Appreciate Inquiry, whether with the teams I coach, or the students I teach. We can’t afford to focus on or wallow in our failures. Negativity is debilitating. Appreciating the positive aspects of our “ditch experiences” will help us to grow and use our strengths to move forward with confidence down the learning highway.

9 thoughts on “Appreciative Inquiry: Why I Choose to See the World through Rose-Colored Glasses

  1. Patti,

    First off, I want to say how grateful I am to have been on this CC journey with you! I often times find myself looking to your posts and reflections for inspiration, understanding, and a new perspective! It dawned on me as I read that I had not shared this with you and as I read that the super star of our e-course had fell in the inquiry ditch I thought no better time than now to share how your work through this has inspired me to keep going and gotten me out of a couple ditches along the way!

    I love how you connect this learning journey back to your students and realized a new way of seeing their perspective! I too have made this connection several times but have realized in the end how much more self-sufficient I am because of the model of the cc course, rather than the answers being there, I was met with only more questions but the questions coming from an appreciative place seemed to always point me in the right direction, even if I zoomed way off the map a time or two! As we take the turn into the final stretch with our teams your post has definitely helped to refocus me and remind me that we are all on this journey together and a road trip is always more fun with someone in the passenger seat helping to guide us and even help dj our trip along the way! While I know we have a specific destination we need to get to, and I am confident all our teams with get there it is also important to remember that it is often times the journey where the real learning and growth begins, the destination is often times just an added bonus to all we have learned along the way!

    Thank you for sharing!

    Beth Sanders

  2. Thanks, Beth, for taking the time to share this. Your encouragement is always well-timed and so sincere! I’m so glad we ended up in this together. 🙂

  3. Patti,
    I absolutely LOVED learning with you! I can’t believe you are so far away–we will never have our night out on the town!

    You are a rock star. You put your whole heart into your learning, and you throw defeat and challenges to the wind. You were an inspiration to me throughout the course, and you always had something thoughtful that pushed my own thinking forward. Your school community must adore you, as I know your PLPeeps do!

    I hope we can continue our connection, as I see you as one of the best colleagues I know with so many good ideas.

    We all hit the roadblocks, and I think being part of the PLP coaching community allows us to share openly and honestly. We aren’t called out for what we do not know–rather, we are encouraged to share our questions, challenges and wonderings. I am certain our students do feel like us when they hit roadblocks and shut down. I know that our CC skills will help us to turn on the positive dispositions to help them get unstuck, just like our PLP community helped us get unstuck.

    It has been a pleasure learning with you!

  4. Sarah – One of these days… There will be a conference – something – and we WILL meet!! I refuse to lose touch – You are a kindred spirit!

    I love the passion for learning in our group. It energizes me, and you were a large part of that. I was grateful every time you took the mic in our sessions and were willing to share. You have wonderful insights!

    I really do feel like we need to have some Elluminate or Google hangout reunions for this group… I’ll bring the wine!

  5. Patti,
    That learning can be difficult, that adopting a new paradigm is more than challenging, that members of community are there for us, and that asking “what went right” can reframe and open more possibilities–

    For those insights and for your sharing, thank you! Sounds as if you were truly wayfinding–

    We are, as those you coach, be it your students or your colleagues, will be — glad that you’re out of the ditch and asking “what went right”!

    I’m thinking, this journey into connected coaching is a life long one- hope you’ll continue to be a fellow traveler–

  6. Thanks, Lani. You did an amazing job helping the connected coaches to form a tight-knit, trusting learning community. Our closeness is in large part thanks to your protocols and activities, and the relationships built will last long beyond the course calendar. I’m grateful to have learned so much from your gentle, insightful nature! I’d be honored to continue traveling with you… 🙂

  7. Patti!

    I agree with Sarah, you are a rock star! Thank you so much for you insight and for sharing the bumpy ride as well. I can’t really imagine you could land in any ditch and with your energy you surely bounced right back up. I appreciate how you take the mike during our seminars on Tuesdays and how you always seem to have some insight and reflections to share with the rest of us! I will not miss the late night seminars, but I will miss your voice!

  8. What a wonderful way to turn around that ditch experience! I love it. Thanks for making your doubts so transparent. I think the road ahead is clearer for all of us as a result.

  9. Thanks so much, Anne. The trusting atmosphere in our learning community made me feel safe to put it out there… I’m fortunate to have been part of such a dynamic, caring group of educators!

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