Easy methods to Flip Obstacles Into Alternatives

We see the world by way of pre-existing frames and these frames assist us interpret actuality. Frames present a spotlight, however they’ll additionally restrict our considering. The flexibility to vary how we body our experiences and beliefs about any given scenario is essential to artistic resilience. Reframing helps us to see our scenario from a unique perspective. The information stay the identical, however we will see issues in a brand new gentle. Once we shift our body of reference, we uncover new views and inventive insights.

1) pathways to artistic resilience, re-invention, and innovation, and
2) how Optimistic Psychology and Appreciative Inquiry created a revolution in private improvement, and organizational change.

The Stoic strategy to reframing a detrimental right into a optimistic

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into TriumphThe Stoics present us with historic knowledge for overcoming obstacles and adversities. To the Stoic, every part is a chance. The issues that check us make us who we’re.

Ryan Vacation, creator of The Impediment Is the Approach, [i]  quotes the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius:

The obstacle to motion advances motion. What stands in the best way turns into the best way.” In different phrases, Vacation says, “Irrespective of how dangerous or seemingly undesirable a scenario turns into—we all the time have the chance to follow advantage, to make use of the scenario as a possibility to be our greatest selves.

We will’t management hardship, however as Victor Frankl wrote in Man’s Seek for That means, we will all the time management how we reply. We will select to embrace virtues reminiscent of endurance, braveness, humility, resourcefulness, motive, justice, and creativity.

Benjamin Franklin, one other Stoic, observes

All nice victories, be they in politics, enterprise, artwork, or seduction, concerned resolving vexing issues with a potent cocktail of creativity, focus and daring. When you’ve a purpose, obstacles are instructing you the way to get the place you need to go – carving you a path. The issues which harm instruct.

Vacation says the Stoics had an train referred to as “turning the impediment the wrong way up” to coach their notion in order that the impediment could be considered a possibility. He describes this perceptual reframe as a two-part psychological shift: “Firstly, to see catastrophe rationally, to see the fact of the scenario, to not panic, or make rash selections. Secondly, to see alternative in each catastrophe, and remodel that detrimental scenario into an training, a talent set, a advantage or a fortune.”

We will see stoicism at work throughout COVID-19. The pandemic has been a significant market disruptor that has led to unprecedented ranges of innovation. As a result of lockdown, many companies turned this into a possibility to reinvent themselves, reimagine their enterprise mannequin, endure fast digitalization, and provide their providers on-line. BBC reported in Oct 2020 that Billionaires noticed fortunes rise by 27% through the pandemic.

Distinguishing between problem-solving and creativity

I need to pause for a second to tell apart between problem-solving and creativity.

Drawback-solving is about making the issue go away. You may put out fires all day lengthy and by no means create something. Creativity is about bringing one thing into being.

The pandemic has been a possibility to study all about our issues, a lot of them hidden till Covid-19 uncovered them. We now see how interconnected we’re. We’ve skilled the constraints and fragility of our programs, particularly our healthcare, provide chains and social security nets. We will, and should, select a greater future.

Use Optimistic Psychology to focus in your strengths and persevere

Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-beingResearch in Optimistic Psychology present we enhance our capability to persevere after we can reframe our failures or setbacks as studying alternatives or as concepts for progress. Once we view setbacks as offering helpful info in order that we will overcome obstacles, we’re much less inclined to surrender and persist towards our purpose. [ii] We develop our artistic resilience after we study to reframe.

Optimistic Psychology is itself a reframe. It’s a motion based by Martin Seligman who was pissed off with the standard mannequin of psychology which focuses on fixing deficits. A lot consideration is paid to psychological sickness, irregular psychology, trauma, struggling, and ache. Seligman reframed the main focus of what can go incorrect with us by asking what might go proper?

The purpose of Optimistic Psychology is to determine, examine, and improve the human strengths and virtues that make life value residing. Fairly than attempting to repair deficits, optimistic psychologists emphasize that individuals ought to focus and construct upon what they’re doing properly. Optimistic Psychology has develop into a motion devoted to understanding and fostering happiness, wellbeing, exceptionalism, strengths, and flourishing. To flourish is to be creatively resilient.

Take an appreciative strategy to problem-solving

One of the profound insights into administration practices occurred within the ’80s when David Cooperidder was conducting a examine at Cleveland Clinic. By reversing the deficit-problem analytic strategies of the day, and experimenting with an appreciative inquiry to search out out what works, and what provides life to the group, he found an untapped supply of energy and vitality inside workers. Appreciative Inquiry not solely served to catalyze an enormous momentum at Cleveland Clinic but additionally sparked an period of unprecedented progress for the corporate.

What’s Appreciative Inquiry (AI)?

Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in ChangeAppreciative inquiry is a strengths-based, optimistic strategy to management improvement and organizational change. The goal is to construct – or rebuild – organizations round what works, slightly than attempting to repair what doesn’t. AI is a co-creative course of that empowers teams to search out what’s working, create a great imaginative and prescient for the group, and design a approach to get there collectively. AI can be utilized by people, groups, organizations, or on the societal degree.

Appreciative Inquiry is a constructive inquiry course of that searches for every part that “provides life” to organizations, communities, and bigger human programs when they’re most alive, efficient, artistic and wholesome of their interconnected ecology of relationships. To understand, fairly merely, means to worth and to acknowledge that which has worth – it’s a method of understanding and valuing the very best in life… Appreciative Inquiry has a optimistic bias – towards the great, the higher, the distinctive, and the attainable.

— David Cooperrider

I’m fascinated by how Cooperrider got here up with the thought for Appreciative Inquiry. His spouse Nancy, who was finding out artwork appreciation on the time, subscribed to the notion that “in every bit of artwork there’s magnificence.” He puzzled why we don’t have “enterprise appreciation” and got here to consider that as an alternative of asking “What’s incorrect,” we should always ask, “What’s proper, and what’s going properly?”

Cooperrider believes that like artwork, each group has magnificence and is an expression of spirit. If we will uncover and give attention to that magnificence and that spirit, we will envision a way forward for the place we need to be, and we might be extra prone to succeed. [iii]

Specializing in issues (a deficit bias) creates inertia that clouds our capability to feed strengths and gasoline alternatives. We’re higher capable of meet our challenges creatively by defining and utilizing our strengths, as an alternative of spending a lot time defining our deficits. Appreciating what works fuels optimistic vitality, pleasure and creativity.

Evaluating problem-solving to Appreciative Inquiry

Conventional problem-solving Appreciative strategy
Deal with what’s incorrect; seek for root causes of failures Deal with what works; seek for root causes of success
Obstacles handled as limitations Obstacles handled as ramps into new territory
In the event you search for issues, you’ll discover (and create) extra issues In the event you search for successes, you’ll discover (and create) extra successes
Can result in blaming Can result in larger creativity
De-energizing Energizing


AI has develop into a worldwide motion that contributes to transformational change in people and organizations. AI is a contributor to the strengths revolution in administration and the emergence of optimistic psychology.

Appreciative inquiry includes 5 levels

  1. Outline – What’s the subject of inquiry? – It is very important outline the general focus of the inquiry (what the system needs extra of). Definition is used to make clear the realm of labor to be thought-about. Regardless of being the place to begin of the cycle, it’s a current addition – the 5Ds had been initially the 4Ds, together with uncover, dream, design and future. Definition defines the challenge’s goal, content material, and what must be achieved. On this section, the guiding query is, “What generative subject can we need to give attention to collectively?”
  2. Uncover – Appreciating the very best of ‘what’s’ – Discovery is predicated on a dialogue, as a method of discovering ‘what works’. It rediscovers and remembers the group or group’s successes, strengths and intervals of excellence.
  3. Dream – Imagining ‘what could possibly be’ –  Imagining makes use of previous achievements and successes recognized within the discovery section to think about new potentialities and envisage a most well-liked future. It permits individuals to determine their goals for a group or group; having found ‘what’s greatest’. They’ve the prospect to challenge it into their needs, hopes and aspirations for the long run
  4. Design – Figuring out ‘what needs to be’ – Design brings collectively the tales from discovery with the creativeness and creativity from dream. We name it bringing the ‘greatest of what’s’ along with ‘what may be’, to create ‘what needs to be – the best’.
  5. Ship/Future – Creating ‘what might be’ – The fifth stage within the 5Ds course of identifies how the design is delivered, and the way it’s embedded into teams, communities and organizations. In early appreciative inquiry improvement, it was referred to as ‘supply’, based mostly on extra conventional organizational improvement follow. The time period ‘future’ is extra prevalent now. [iv]

Appreciative Inquiry in a Pandemic: An Unbelievable Pairing

Because the pandemic wears on and many people really feel we’re in a type of purgatory, some have requested “Isn’t it an oxymoron to be appreciative whereas experiencing unprecedented states of angst and disruption?” David Cooperrider and Ronald Fry reply:[v]

What we want to underscore right here is that AI isn’t about being or considering positively or negatively. Its name is to transcend this polarity. It’s not about optimistic versus detrimental human expertise, however the option to inquire into what’s life. The duty of AI is the penetrating seek for what provides life, what fuels developmental potential, and what has deep which means—even within the midst of the tragic.

In so many instances of disruption, there’s all the time the radically elevated potential to summon our higher humanity. That’s the reason the very best in human programs can burst forth simply as life, even a blade of grass can bust out throughout, even after a heavy cement freeway has been positioned over it. Resilience, even amid tragedy, CAN develop. It’s not a noun, not a factor, however a verb; one thing that may be constructed and cast within the crucible of crises.

Leveraging the 80/20 ratio

Cooperrider and Fry’s current analysis has proven that disruption can result in nice strides ahead in organizations. Take into consideration how so many organizations through the pandemic swiftly pivoted their choices and enabled their workforce to work remotely.

They argue that having a strengths-based focus can result in even larger change than focussing on deficits. As a substitute of focusing 80% on what’s not working and 20% on strengths, it is very important put this 80/20 rule in reverse to harness the transformative energy of the “positivity ratio.”

Gallup and others have, for years, documented the almost unchanged 80-20 ratio the place the bias in administration is to miss strengths in deference to an assumption that individuals and organizations will develop quickest or furthest by repairing or specializing in weaknesses. It’s a pervasive assumption in parenting, within the deficit-based media, in diagnostic medication, in political discourse, and in administration and bureaucracies all over the place. Therefore the unconventional nature of the optimistic strengths motion: it’s about finding out what occurs when the 80-20 rule is reversed. [vi]

AI can be utilized in on a regular basis practices reminiscent of bettering {our relationships}, bettering emotional and psychological well being, growing our strengths and contributing to the wellbeing of others. From an organizational perspective, it may be used for a variety of adjustments from rising and strengthening collaboration and staff constructing, to co-creating and designing improvements and large-scale tradition change.


To develop into creatively resilient, make a behavior out of reframing conditions in ways in which invite new views and encourage artistic options, particularly now when circumstances are difficult. Search for the silver lining in any detrimental scenario, and discover methods to show  your insights into motion.

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[i] Excerpted from The Impediment is the Approach, by Ryan Vacation

[ii] VIA Professional Strengths profile. VIA Institute on Character. 2011

[iii] Cooperrider, D.L. and Avital, M. (Ed.) Constructive Discourse and Human Group (Advances in Appreciative Inquiry, Vol. 1), Emerald Group Publishing Restricted.

[iv] 5-D Cycle of Appreciative Inquiry, AI Commons, retrieved March 12, 2021,

[v]  Cooperrider, D. L., & Fry, R. (2020). Appreciative Inquiry in a Pandemic: An Unbelievable Pairing. The Journal of Utilized Behavioral Science, 56(3), 266–271.

[vi] Cooperrider, D.L. (2012). The focus impact of strengths: How the entire system ”AI” summit brings out the very best in human enterprise. Organizational Dynamics, 41, 106-117.


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