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Episode 025: A Conversation on Appreciative Inquiry with Amanda Trosten-Bloom

a conversation on appreciative inquiry with amanda trosten-bloom

Join Sarah Noll Wilson and guest Amanda Trosten-Bloom as they define Appreciative Inquiry, explore the principles behind it, and discuss how it can be used as a powerful practice both in our workplaces and in our personal lives.

About our guest

Amanda Trosten-Bloom is a widely acclaimed consultant, master trainer, energizing speaker, and pioneer in the use of Appreciative Inquiry for high engagement, and whole system change. She builds results-oriented partnerships with organizational and community leaders in support of strategic planning, culture change, and organizational excellence. Working across sectors in business, nonprofit, government, and educational organizations, her clients have included: Hewlett-Packard; ACT; IHS; Hunter Douglas Window Fashions Division; Colorado Access; the National Security Administration; the Unitarian Universalist Association; Thornwell; the Temple Buell and Denver Foundations; the Cities of Boulder, Denver, and Longmont, CO; and several Colorado-based community colleges. Amanda is also co-author of four books, including The Power of Appreciative Inquiry, Appreciative Leadership, Appreciative Team Building, and the Encyclopedia of Positive Questions. She has written dozens of articles and book chapters and is featured on several recordings and podcasts.

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Episode Transcript

Sarah Noll Wilson 0:00
Hello, and welcome to this week’s episode of Conversations on Conversations, where each week we explore a topic to help us have more meaningful conversations with ourselves and with each other. I’m your host, Sarah Noll Wilson, and I am so thrilled to be back and to introduce you all to my dear friend, my dear mentor, my sage, the- you know, the person I’ve been able to apprentice with for a number of years, and that is Miss Amanda Trosten-Bloom. So let me tell you a little bit about her before we bring her onto the show. Amanda Trosten-Bloom is a widely acclaimed consultant, master trainer, energizing speaker, and pioneer in the use of appreciative inquiry for high engagement and whole system change. She builds result-oriented partnerships with organizational and community leaders in support of strategic planning, cultural change, and organizational excellence. Working across various business sectors, nonprofit, government, educational organization, her clients have included everyone from Hewlett-Packard, to ACT, to Hunter Douglas Window Fashion Division, to Colorado Access. Here’s other things you should know about Miss Amanda. She is also the co-author of four books, including “The Power of Appreciative Inquiry,” “Appreciative Leadership,” “Appreciative Team Building,” and “The Encyclopedia of Positive Questions,” all of which I own, have purchased, have shared, and recommended to anyone who’s interested in this work. But she’s also been featured on several podcast recordings, and has written dozens of articles and book chapters. Amanda, welcome to the show.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:44
Thank you, Sarah, thank you so much.

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:46
What else would you like people to know about you?

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:50
Well, I guess what I’d also like people to know about me, is I’m a resident of Golden, Colorado, married 33 years. My husband is a Unitarian Universalist minister, retired now. I have a beautiful 28 year old daughter who’s a music teacher and a really great pianist. And I’m, I’m just a happy person living a good life, right now.

Sarah Noll Wilson 2:23
That, you know, that feels like in short supply these days, sometimes, so I appreciate being in the presence of that, because some days the world feels really heavy, and it can be hard to find a lightness and joy when things feel hard. Now, so a little bit of background. You know, I was trying to do the math, Amanda. I think we’ve almost known each other for 10 years. I think it’s n- no, yeah, I think it’s nine years. I think I met you in 2013.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 2:52
Okay, your math is better than mine, and I was gonna guess it was a little longer than that. So I’m-

Sarah Noll Wilson 2:57
2012? 2012, 2013. I mean, a decade, which I hadn’t realized that.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 3:03
It’s a long time.

Sarah Noll Wilson 3:03
I don’t remember life before you, Amanda. But we, so the way that I became introduced to Amanda and her work, is when I was getting my master’s degree at Drake, I was introduced to this concept of appreciative inquiry, which we are going to spend some time talking about, just because it’s such a powerful tool-approach, value system way of living, way of thinking. And then we’ll dig into some some other areas that we’ve been chatting about. And I was interested in learning more about this practice for my organization that I was with at the time, ARAG Legal Insurance. So I had been introduced to Amanda’s work through reading a number of her books, and then found out that she was going to be speaking at a conference that I was eyeing, and was able to convince my boss to let me go up to Montreal, Canada. I don’t remember what the conference was, was it the ILA?

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 3:58
It was the ILA conference, yep.

Sarah Noll Wilson 4:00
Yeah, ‘kay. And, and not only did I participate in your session, and this, you know, I’m very open about my mental health, but I was actually navigating a panic attack before heading into there, because I was still when I was in the heat of my panic disorder. Anyway, long story short, I fangirled her, I went up to her afterwards, and I was like, I have all of your books, come work with us, and I want to learn everything I can. And for the last, you know, since that time, 10 years, have had the absolute pleasure and honor, and, and I do feel like I’ve been an apprentice of yours for so many various projects that we’ve worked on together, and being able to train with you, and just get to know you as the lovely human you are. And so, I’m so excited to introduce our audience to you and your deep wisdom, and your very thoughtful and poetic language and everything makes you, you you. So I’m so excited to have you here.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 5:01
Thank you, Sarah. It’s really a pleasure. And this has been a mutual admiration society since that conference as well, because you’ve been such a great partner, and thinking partner on some really interesting work. And I always love talking with you about things, because it always kind of brings out new insights. So, thank you for that.

Sarah Noll Wilson 5:22
Yeah. Well, one of the things, you know, I’ve talked about appreciative inquiry. And so just so people know where we’re headed, we won’t- you know, we do want to spend a little bit of time on that, but one of the things we actually want to explore in our space today, is just this idea of being really intentional with designing our life, and really intentional as we move on to new chapters of our life, whether that’s because of a transition, whether that’s because of aging, and, and just to have a conversation about something that impacts all of us. So let’s start. Let’s start with AI. Appreciative inquiry, because there are likely people who are listening to this, who maybe have heard of it, who may be familiar with it, but if I had to guess, there’s probably a fair amount of people who are “I’m not, I’m unfamiliar with that.” So, how would you describe appreciative inquiry to people who are unfamiliar?

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 6:12
Well, I would describe it as a combination of a philosophy, a mindset, a set of organizational practices, that all revolve around the notion that human systems move in the direction of the things that they consistently study and talk about. The- I call it sometimes the textbook definition, at least, the definition that shows up in the textbook I’ve worked on, is that appreciative inquiry is the study of what gives life to human systems, when they’re at their best. And there’s a few parts of that, that I always like to lean into. Part of it is that it’s a study, as we said, human systems move in the direction of the things they study and talk about. It’s the study, it’s less about where we arrive, than about the process we used to get there. And it’s the study of what gives life, as opposed to just any old thing. We’re trying to really get to the bottom of, when things have been at their best, when people have been at their best, and the Buddhists would call it this sort of the basic goodness in a person or a human system. It’s the study of what gives life. It’s the study of what gives life to human systems. Which is important, because you go, you know, what- my computer wasn’t working earlier today, if I had sat back and started studying, and trying to remember a time when it was working, it probably wouldn’t have fixed the problem that I was dealing with, but if but human systems are organized differently than machines, that way, and we sometimes say that the problem solving to which we’re sort of habituated at this point, is really kind of an artifact of the Industrial Revolution, where really what we were doing was creating change methodologies that were worked on machines. And so finally-

Sarah Noll Wilson 8:14
Yeah, I mean-

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 8:14
I’m sorry, go ahead.

Sarah Noll Wilson 8:15
No, keep going.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 8:17
And so finally, then the last part of that definition, is that it’s the study of what gives life to human systems when they’re at their best, because acknowledging that human systems are not always at their best. We have our bad days, we have our bad times, you talked about one of those for you, but we learn things, if we go back, and look at who we were, and what we were doing when things were at their best, and we can sometimes transfer those things over to address or remediate some of the problems that we deal with on a daily basis, which are also sometimes of our own making. And so that’s how I would describe appreciative inquiry. And it’s, it’s used sometimes as a personal growth process for people. Parenting books have been written about it. And you’re, of course, mostly familiar with its organizational applications.

Sarah Noll Wilson 9:19
Yeah. And I think the, you know, the language that you said a number of times, because I- you know, I know that a number of people who are in our audience right now either come from the world of human resource management, you know, managing people, right, people leaders, is that idea of human systems. And you know, and I was so glad I got- it was, if you weren’t going to mention that a lot of our management practices, and a lot of our organizational practices literally comes from, right, the industrial revolution, of managing machines as effectively and efficiently as possible, and that isn’t how humans work. So even that language of human systems of understanding, and that, you know, just to reiterate what you said, that we move in the direction of what we study and we talk about with regularity- the thing that that I love so much about appreciative inquiry is the intentionality of where are we putting focus, and I do want to spend- I do want to spend a little bit of time, just because, you know, for those of you who are listening, this is a core practice to the work that we do. But, you know, it’s also some foundational philosophies, it’s really shaped, even if we aren’t doing the standard practice of it, some of the core philosophies. So let’s talk about the core principles, right, like the five core principles, and then, and there’s- you know, there’s the academic language around it, the constructionist principle, but talk to us about the different principles, and then we can talk about the 5D model.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 11:07
Absolutely. So the first thing I will say is that the, what you call the five core principles, were articulated in our colleague, David Cooperrider’s dissertation in 1984. And, and, but those have continued to evolve through the years. I think, in our book we talked about eight principles. I think Jackie Kelm lists ten of them. You know, so it’s still a work in progress, appreciative inquiry-

Sarah Noll Wilson 11:38
So you can, you can share whatever ones that are, like, you know, if we want to go into the eight that you feel, or whatever you think is most, because I, I think that-

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 11:45
I’ll share a few of them.

Sarah Noll Wilson 11:46
Okay, okay.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 11:48
So, you talked about the constructionist principle, which comes out of the field of social construction, which, basically it posits that knowledge and meaning is not- that it’s not fixed, that there isn’t such a thing as truth with a capital T. That we’re basically creating new meaning every time we enter into a conversation, every time we engage in a new relationship, we’re finding new ways to understand the world that we’re living in. And, and that we can reshape that world, or we can reshape our understanding of that world, by changing who we’re talking with, and what we’re talking about. And so that that is really quite pivotal to appreciative inquiry, because we’re all about language, and the language that we choose to use, the language we choose to create together, and the meaning that we choose to discover through the stories that we unearth. So that’s one of the, one of the principles. Another is, we call it the principle of simultaneity, which says basically, the moment that we ask a question that we’re creating a change. That change and questions are simultaneous, and that there really isn’t such a thing as a neutral question, because as soon as I’ve asked you a question, I’ve turned your attention to something which has changed you. So even if I were to ask you how’s the weather outside, you might look at your window, you know, you turn your attention to answer my question. So if- so with appreciative inquiry, what we’re about is changing the nature of the questions that we ask, in order to change people’s experience and understanding, and that that change happens right away. So that’s an important one. Another is what we call the positive principle, which is, basically suggests that we have- that human systems are organized, our brains are organized to respond to positive emotions. That- we know now neuroscience is telling us that the chemistry of our brain changes in the presence of positive emotions, just as it changes in the presence of negative emotions. That when negative emotions are present, it triggers the fight or flight response, which it inhibits our capacity to think clearly. It helps us get into trees or chase away that saber toothed tiger, but it doesn’t help us to make good, clear decisions about the here and now. Whereas in the presence of positive emotions, our- it broad- those broaden and build our brain’s capacity to make decisions, and to consider things that allows for innovation. Barbara Fredrickson’s work has has done so much to unleash what’s happening in the human brain in the presence of positive emotions. Another important principle is the anticipatory principle, which basically suggests that our images of the future have a lot to do with our actions in the here and now, and if we can change our images of the future, in particular if we can create positive images of the future, that those images will draw us towards them, sort of magnetically, and that the more positive the- those images, the more compelling they will be, and the greater the possibility for achieving something good, if not exactly the image you’ve created, but- what’s that expression that if we shoot for the stars, we may not get there, but we’ll at least have-

Sarah Noll Wilson 15:56
We’ll land on the moon.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 15:57
Land on the moon. So that’s another important principle. Another very important one that we have really been exploring, is the wholeness principle, the notion that more can be created by the whole. More and better can be created by the whole, than any individual or small group. And that, and that, and this taps into not just the notion of the whole system, but also the whole person. That when we really engage the whole person in a process like this, body, mind, spirit, heart, hands, people show up in different ways, and are able to achieve more extraordinary things than would otherwise be the case if they were just kind of hammering it on- hammering on it with their left brains. Another important principle that we talk about, is the principle of enactment, which I never quite- that term sounds kind of goofy when I say it, but what it says, is the best way to teach a system to behave differently, is to simply have it do it differently, to be the change that they’re trying to become. And in the process, they will learn to do things differently. So in an organizational setting, if you’re struggling with silos, to break the silos down, don’t try to figure out all the reasons why the silos are there, put people in a process that busts the silos up, and let them experience that different reality that way. And there is one more that I would add, and that is what we call the principle of free choice. And what that is about, is allowing people to choose to contribute in ways that are meaningful for them. And that what we find is when people have the opportunity to choose to contribute, they contribute more, and they- and if they’re contributing to the thing that they really care about, they’re gonna stretch and learn and grow, and all of those skills that they’ve acquired in the course of doing that, will get transferred over to everything else in their lives. It builds their self efficacy. So it builds their commitment and their capacity all at the same time. And, and it’s a magical way to create, create ripples in the system that continue to, to flow out forever.

Sarah Noll Wilson 18:44
Yeah, it’s- I mean, there’s a lot to unpack, and there’s so many- I mean, we could talk about appreciative inquiry for 90 minutes, you know, we can go into deep with this. And, but I mean, a couple that have always really resonated for me, and were, it was a big shift, not only for myself personally, but also for the work, you know, organizationally. And you know, that idea of- going back to the first one, the constructionist principle, or, you know, the way I always like to think about it, is our words create our reality, and that the words we use, and every time- and I love, I really appreciate your language that we’re creating new meaning every time we enter into conversation differently, or with someone differently. And, you know, and especially as you think about the world we’re in, we think about the strain on relationships, when we think about the disagreements that are exist, the divisiveness, the even just lack of exposure to people’s experiences. You know, just how important it is to be intentional, and that’s one of the things that for me personally, is it’s a way of trying to show up more intentionally, because we spend so much of our time on autopilot, we spend so much of our conversation transactionally. We spend so- and this goes to, I mean, this isn’t just organizationally, but this is also personally, as well, like, we can be very surface level, we can be very transactional. And you know, and one of them that I think for me is, I feel like, you know, if I got a tattoo of, you know, like, things that have impacted me, is that idea that questions are faithful. You know, because so often, especially in our culture of, like, high hustle, high productivity, we get so focused on the plan, and we get so focused on the outcomes, that we don’t realize that the minute, the moment we ask ourselves a question, or the moment, we ask someone else a question, or they ask us a question, we’re changed. We’re fundamentally changed. And we miss these opportunities for connection, and learning, and new insights, and not realizing that, you know, that- just the act of asking a question. So then let’s be really thoughtful about the types of questions we’re asking. I guess, you know, what comes up for you as I share some- I mean, there’s more, there’s so much, I also want to talk about the wholeness. But I’ll wait on that for a second.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 21:27
Well, it- what’s so interesting, is this whole notion of the questions being faithful, was for me probably one of the most important takeaways this when I first became acquainted with appreciative inquiry. In our book, “Appreciative Leadership,” we talk about boosting your, your ask-to-tell ratio. And the truth is, I’m more of a teller than an asker. I’ve had to learn to be more of an asker. And I guess it’s one of the things you do, you teach what you need to learn more about.

Sarah Noll Wilson 22:05
Truth. Cheers to that.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 22:07
Yes, exactly. So I’m with you that the idea of asking questions not to guide people places, but to really open up the most possibilities. To help people consider and think about what’s happening in the deepest, most thoughtful, most generative way. We also talk about asking, talk about questions- generative questions. Those are the questions, not just positive questions, but generative questions. The questions that help create something new and good, that help lead you to a place that’s newer, or better, or more- that- full of more potential than would otherwise be the case.

Sarah Noll Wilson 23:00
Yeah. Yeah. And again, you know, I mean, I’m not sure when we’re going to air this, but at the time of recording this, I mean, there’s been a lot of heavy stuff, especially in the US, that’s happened. You know, whether it’s navigating the various shootings, whether it’s navigating the recent Roe versus Wade reversal, whether it’s navigate- I mean, just so much, right. This navigating the ongoing pandemic, and I know that, I mean, personally, I’ve really struggled with the amount of just sort of constant stress, to be able to step into the space of possibilities, you know. That there’s a- I miss a little bit of the ease, you know, and honestly, Nick and I’ve talked about, is like, well, did we have ease or were we pretending because we didn’t always see, right, you know, the realities in front of us. And- there’s Sally, she’s joining the chat. That’s all right.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 24:00
Hi, Sally.

Sarah Noll Wilson 24:01
She joins periodically. But, you know, when we were talking about the anticipatory principle, of just that, you know, the idea that images inspire action, and one of the things that one of the things that had come up for me, and this is a quote from the one of the first executive coaches I had worked with, Sharna Fay, she said, you know, the pain will push you till the vision pulls you.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 24:26
Oh, that’s nice.

Sarah Noll Wilson 24:28
Yeah. And so I, you know, I think about that for myself, and just the, you know, when things feel so heavy, how can I create some space to still be generative, how can I still create some space to consider possibilities, to think about the world that I have influence. How do I want to show up, and how do I, you know, what’s the impact that I want to make? And I love that addition of the wholeness principle, and I do, I always appreciate your language, that more and better can be created when we bring our whole selves, when we tap into the whole system, you know, which also just makes me think of, you know, how do we create truly psychologically safe cultures? How do we create truly inclusive cultures? How do we create truly psychologically safe relationships, where we can bring our whole selves to the table? I’m sort of rambling a bit. But that’s- this is just all the things that are percolating in my head as we chat.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 25:30
And that one, by the way, you know, you talked about some of the challenges that we’re faced with right now. Now is a hard time to be doing appreciative inquiry, to be thinking in terms of these principles. And what is true, is that I watched myself go down, down the rabbit hole of- there’s a hopeless feeling that’s associated with a lot of what’s happening right now. There’s a, there’s a hopeless, scary feeling, and, and it is very difficult to take constructive action in the face of that feeling. And it is very difficult to generate hope in the midst of that. And that is a lot of what the sort of the interplay of those principles is about is creating, creating the fertile ground in which images of hope, images of possibility, new ideas, new meaning, new, a new sense of understanding can be created. And the only way that we know to do that is to change those conversations, to help create new relationships, new authentic relationships. I have a colleague here in Denver, Lydia Prado, who says nothing changes people faster than a relationship. And that’s, that’s such a big deal right now in the world that we’re living in, where we sort of hunkered down and retreated into our bubbles. And it’s so hard to get out of those bubbles, and the only way I know, which I don’t practice enough, but the only way that I know to really create that authentic relationship, is by asking those questions that allow people to show you who they are, when they’re at their best. And I can love that. I can’t love everything, but I can love that. And that, and this. I can learn from it.

Sarah Noll Wilson 27:59
It’s- yeah, it, you know- when it feels like hits keep on coming, or, for some, right, for some people, certainly feeling like, the hits never stopped, and, you know, and there’s, you know, psychologically, our brain can go into that protection of learned helplessness, of like, well, what can I do, and I, and I found the same thing to be true of- you know, and actually, my therapist and I, we were just talking about this, that for me, one way I recharge, is through authentic connected conversations that are really meaningful, even if it’s with somebody who I don’t necessarily have a prior relationship with. And the way that we can do that, is again, showing up much more intentionally, seeing and being our whole selves as much as we can, and as much as we’re comfortable. And asking just deeper questions, like, and I will say, anecdotally, one thing that we see, and we saw this before the pandemic, but we’re really seeing it now, is there’s such a craving for connection, and intimacy, you know, because there was or still is isolation, because we have had to go into this mental and physical and emotional protection. You know, and not just for, not just for the pandemic, but you know, the racial injustice, the financial challenges, right, the movement of work for- I mean, like, the list goes, and then, you know, add in severe weather conditions, I mean, like, the list piles up, and when you give people the space to really connect deeply with someone else, it’s all- even if it’s for five minutes, even if it’s just the five minute exercise, I was just working with a group last week, and it’s a simple listening exercise, and they were- and I said, How many of you feel more connected to your person? Like, we’re like best friends now. And it- yeah, and I said it was six minutes. That’s it, when we’re intentional. And so, you know, so this idea of, of showing up more intentionally in our lives, isn’t just to be purposeful, but it’s to, you know, make change. It’s to shift perspectives, it’s to recharge those of us who may be really struggling. You know, I’m smiling a little bit. Last night I had a conversation with a woman who I’m going to have on the show, and I want to make sure I get her last name, her first name is Jacquette, and her last name is Timmons. And we’ve never met each other, and I’m exhausted, because I’m still dealing with, you know, long- like, some lingering effects of COVID, and fatigued, and we were planning on a half an hour chat. And I get on, and she just had this best laugh, and then just started asking, like, great- and I just stopped and I went, oh man, I think your laughter is medicine right now. But then we started to ask each other really meaningful questions about, not just, you know, what do you do, but how did you get there? And what do you love to do? And if someone is talking, what would I hear that would let me know that I need to make this connection? And next thing, you know, we were 90 minutes later, and I’m on the couch going hey, it’s 6:30, and felt lighter and more hopeful. And, and you know, and that’s exactly what you’re talking about, whether that’s the world we’re in, whether that’s in bringing people together organizationally, whether that’s bringing people together personally. Yeah, I would just- I would love to hear what’s coming up for you as we’re chatting about this.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 31:38
I’m just enjoying listening to your examples, and seeing how, how you’ve integrated all of this both that which we have shared, and that which you’ve acquired in other places, into this really interesting way of seeing the world and experiencing the world.

Sarah Noll Wilson 32:00
Well, I’ll tell you what, here’s one of my favorite stories that I think that I think you’ll appreciate. It was- it was an experiment I ran a long time ago, about the idea of questions are faithful, is, we were at Disney- have I ever told you this story before?

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 32:16
I don’t think so.

Sarah Noll Wilson 32:16
I don’t know if I have. Like this is such a good example of being intentional. And we were at we were at Disney with my my sister in her family. And at the time my youngest nephew, at the time, he was the youngest, at the time. I think he was five. And, you know, my sister, she likes some rides, but not necessarily big thrill rides, that’s just not her thing. And I remember she leaned down and she asked him a question. She said, “You don’t- you don’t want to go on this ride, do you, buddy?” And of course, his reaction was “No, I’ll just hang out with you.” Right? And I became so fascinated, like, well that’s, that’s an interesting reaction to the question, of course. So then, so then me, being my curious experimenter, the next ride, I said, “What do you think’s gonna be really exciting about this ride?”

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 32:18

Sarah Noll Wilson 32:21
And then sure enough, I was like, “You want to go on it?” “Yeah. Like, there’s gonna be dips and whatever.” And, and you know, and the whole point of the reason we started this show, was how do we have different conversations with ourselves, and just, like, highlighting that, that principle of the questions are faithful. Think about what questions are you asking? What questions are you asking of other people? And how is that impacting the results of- not the results, that sounds so, you know, business, but how is it impacting you? And how might we ask it differently?

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 33:32
Right, right, right. I love your example, because it tapped into the whole experience of your young nephew, because I- some of my best I would say teaching moments happened as my daughter was growing up, and I was kind of cutting my teeth on appreciative inquiry, trying to practice it as a parent. And watching what happened for her in the presence of different kinds of, of questions. And I can, I’d like to share a similar story here.

Sarah Noll Wilson 34:11
Yeah, please do.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 34:11
For years we have the habit at the end of a vacation, of timeout, what was, what were the best, the highlights of this vacation, and what what were the best moments? And it got boring for her, but there was one vacation that we took, we went to the Big Island of Hawaii and that vacation was really a hard vacation, for a whole variety of reasons. I had started describing it as the vacation from hell, because it was- there were record rains, and it poured the whole time that we were there, with, like, very few exceptions. It poured, we were right on a really busy road that made a lot of noise while the- while people were driving through the rain, my daughter got sick, she had a high fever, she couldn’t leave the house, we were in a house- a house that was, it was humid, it was close, and we were just stuck in the house because she had this fever. And there was more, it was, oh, we were supposed to go on a helicopter ride to watch the volcano do its thing, and it got canceled because of the rain, and I had to come home early. I mean, it was, it was a- it was a bad vacation. Hannah Joy heard me one day talking about it, and she said, Mom, I keep hearing you describe this as a terrible vacation. But, you know, what about before I got sick, we went to that really cool magic show at Tahau. And then there was that one hour when it stopped raining, and we went down to the Captain Cook Cove, and you got in the water and you swam with the dolphins. And then when we were stuck in the house while I was sick, we were reading Lord of the- reread Lord of the Rings, we got to the end of that, of that book of Lord of the Rings, and the geckos were just hanging out, and she went on and on, and I thought, oh my god, this was the same vacation that I was on. And as I heard her describe it, it was really quite lovely. And had I gone to the trouble of asking that question about what were the highlights of that vacation, and had I asked it of myself, I might have come up with other stuff, even. I didn’t bother to ask, I was so busy reacting to it. And that, that healing that took place when I heard her describing all those things, is part of what can happen when we recast, and experience a different way. Going back to that first- that first interview that you went through when we were at the ILA conference, was on resilience. And one of the women in the group said, I told the story of something that up until now I have considered to be a failure, and then I realized that it was an opportunity for me to grow, and learn, and build my resilience. And it was the same episode, but it looked different, because the question was different. So, I, I’m sorry, I went on a little long with that one.

Sarah Noll Wilson 35:02
No, do not, don’t, don’t, we are very pro-exploring, rambling, navigating, ’cause that is just how our brains work sometimes. And yeah, you know, well, one of the principles that we didn’t talk about, that is part of what you’re hitting on, is the poetic principle, right? That what we focus on grows, and this isn’t, you know, this isn’t about hyper-positivity, this isn’t toxic positivity, this isn’t minimizing the reality, I always think of it as it’s opening up the curtain to make sure we see the full picture. And that can be really hard when we’re in it, you know, it can be really hard. And, and, you know, and there are times when it’s absolutely necessary and appropriate for us to be present with what is right now. And, and to be able to, again, intentionally find those opportunities to- it’s not about focusing on one or the other, but like opening up the curtain so we can see the full stage, right, you know, the, if we only focus on, you know, the negative, we can miss out on- there, there are benefits, and there are positives, and there are- and again, and I’m, you know, somebody who has sort of struggled with that lately, that I used to be, you know, and I think that’s something else, not that we’re necessarily experts to talk about it, but when our resiliency is low, when we are dealing with prolonged exposure to chronic stress, when there’s constant uncertainty, when there’s constant- it is really hard for the brain to consider possibilities. It’s just hard, ’cause we’re in survival mode all the time.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 39:23
Right, right.

Sarah Noll Wilson 39:23
And that can get, I mean, it can get exhausting, and, you know, just like, small moments of shift can be really necessary. You know, I feel necessary, like where I’m at now, it feels necessary for my well being to cultivate moments of joy. It feels necessary for my health to be really intentional about seeking out and reconnecting and anchoring with my purpose. Right? It’s not, it’s not just a, well, this would be nice to have because I’ll feel better. I recognize that if I don’t do that, like, things are going to be even harder for me, from a mental health perspective.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 40:03
And you’re not unique. I mean, the research backs you up, every buddy from Marty Seligman, to Barbara Fredrickson, to several organizational folks, are finding that that positive imbalance, that positive imbalance in our inner experience, in our inner dialogue, in our emotions, is, it- it’s necessary, it is necessary. It predicts performance, it allows us to recover from negative experiences. And, and, and sometimes, in order to create that positive imbalance, we have to be intentional about asking different questions that will allow us to see different things, that we couldn’t see if we didn’t ask those questions.

Sarah Noll Wilson 40:59
So, you know, I would like to, if you’re open to it, I do want to give a little bit of time for, because people might be thinking, well, these principles are great, and I can kind of understand how they look, but is there a structure? Is there a way for us to to explore this? And because I do think that, again, like anything, it’s a, it’s, it feels so transactional to say it’s a tool in your tool belt, but it is, it’s a, it’s a practice you can have, that can be really valuable of exploring, and being really intentional about when have I been at my best, what does this look like, you know, even just recently, I was having some conversations with my husband, and just, you know, reflecting on, you know, when- what are things that have brought us joy before that we can tap into, you know, and imagining of there are things of outside of my control that I can’t, you know, that I can’t dream away, right? There’s the reality we’re in, but given the circumstances, like, what is the ideal of how I want to show up in this moment? So let’s talk about that kind of the core 4D, or 5D model depending on like, how you describe it. Because for- so, for people who are listening, it will feel formulaic or tactical, but it’s quite powerful and intentional in the design, and is, again, something that- and we’ll talk about and explore like how you can apply this personally, organizationally, and what that looks like, again, so that we can show up much more intentionally in the conversations we’re having with ourselves and others. So, Miss Teacher, take it away.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 42:44
Well, let’s- in our book, we talk about the 4D cycle, but as you mentioned, the 5D cycle is also recognized by a lot of folks. So let me talk about 5D instead of 4. The- imagine a circle with arrows moving all the way around it, from one phase to the next. And even when we get to that fifth D, that it would point back to that first D, when it’s all over with. If you would envision that. So the first D is about defining. Defining what it is that you want to study, we talk about that as choosing a change agenda, selecting topics that will be meaningful, to generative topics that will help you to learn about about something that will bring you to the the the outcome that you’re seeking. So that- the definition is the first phase. The second is discovery. And it’s about going through interviews, conversations that allow you to discover and appreciate the best of what has been. We do this a lot through exploration of- we sometimes call a peak experience, or high point questions. Recall a time when such and such, and so and so, was at its best, and we get an opportunity to think about that, and then to think about, at the same time, what were sort of the contributing conditions? What were the root causes of success we might use in a corporate setting? So, in the discovery phase we’re apprec- understanding and appreciating the best of what has been, and out of that we identify what we would call the positive core of whatever it is that we’re studying. That whole positive core is sitting in the middle of the 5D, the 5D’s, and not everybody talks about that part, but we feel it’s pretty vital in terms of grounding you, and giving you something to build upon, going forward. So the third D, then, is dreaming. That you’ve gone from appreciating the best of what’s been, and really understanding who you are, the system is at its best, and what’s uniquely good there, to envisioning what might be. And this is where the image theory part of appreciative inquiry really shows up, we encourage people to go through really explicit visualization activities, and to enact the- those futures that they’ve imagined. Because the act of enactment, as we talked about in the in the, in the principles conversation, that act of enactment actually anchors the image in our bodies, and our minds, that gives us, we can remember that feeling or that image that’s in our body, long after we’ve forgotten the words on a vision statement, for example. So, that- the third phase is dreaming, the fourth is design. And that’s about deciding, determining what will be. In the design phase, we’re building a bridge between the best of the past, and what we’re trying to become. And we’re trying to harness, or leverage our strengths in service of the future we’ve envisioned, and we’re doing that by really making deliberate choices about systems, and structures, and policies, and practices, and habits, deliberate choices that will enable us to be more of who we are at our best, on a more everyday and ordinary basis. And finally, that last phase, we call it destiny in our book, it’s sometimes called delivery. Delivery is a little more corporate, some people like it better there, and that’s the phase where we’re basically taking action. The design phase is bigger picture. It’s building the skeleton, and the destiny phase is where we’re actually doing it. We’re, we’re doing it, and we’re also in the destiny phase, we’re taking inventory of sort of improvisational changes that have happened along the way, the simultaneity principle tells you that the moment you ask a question, things are gonna change. And what happens in the long term appreciative inquiry process, as the one that you’ve experienced, the ones you’ve experienced, is that things start to change long before you’ve gotten to the destiny phase. Relationships change, conversations change, people begin to adopt practices that they’ve recalled. You know, once you remember what you did, when you did it, right, you don’t usually shove it back in the drawer that quickly, it’s knowledge has been transferred across the system, people start learning things and doing things. So in that destiny phase, we’re taking inventory of what’s already happened, we’re trying to build people’s appreciative muscles so that they can launch back into discovery, definition and discovery, as they’re implementing some of these changes. And, and we’re also, in that phase we’re a lot about self organization, if we’re in an organizational setting. We’re allowing people to stand up and follow their feet, to work on the things that they really care about in the system. We’re allowing them, per that free choice principle, to choose where they want to contribute, in order to bring about the visions that they’ve, that they’ve had. So that’s an overview of that 5D process. And it can be, as you said, it can be applied it, can be- this can be, like, a one hour conversation with yourself or, or your kid, it can be a process that a team can use in our team building book, we have a self managed process for team building that- it uses the 4 or 5D cycle at its root, or it can be the basis for years-long work in an organizational or a community setting.

Sarah Noll Wilson 49:42
Yeah, I mean that’s what I, that’s what I appreciate about it, is that it’s so applicable. And just to, you know, for people who it’s the first time they’re hearing it, I mean just to- there’s Sally again, but just to- she’s so excited about this appreciative inquiry chat. You know, when Sally’s at her best, she’s- No, but to- like, you know, so what it looks like, you know, again, in its simplest form, is so what are we focused on? You know, so look at my, my current situation, part of what I’m focused on, is moving more with ease and peace in my life. That’s like, what I want to study. And so thinking about, well, so when have I been at my best doing that? So things I’ve discovered as I’ve been reflecting, is I have a greater mindfulness practice. I have a gratitude practice, I am intentionally connecting with people. I’m resting, right? And then dreaming about, so, who do I- who do I want to be? Or who do we want to be in this situation? And then that designing of, okay, so what will be? What are the, what are the things I need to start putting in place? And then that destiny, or that delivery, is okay, so now, like kind of- wow, that’s Roscoe, folks. You know, here’s, it’s so funny, some people would like edit that out, but, again, this is life, and life happens, and sometimes your dogs bark, and this is all part of the experience, and, you know, oddly enough, is bringing me a little bit of joy, because they’ve literally been asleep all day. And they’ve just decided to wake up now. But- okay.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 51:16
They’re having fun.

Sarah Noll Wilson 51:17
Yeah, they are having fun. So, that idea of like, who have I been when I’ve been at my best in this situation? Who do I want to be? What do I need to do, and then what will I do? And it’s, and it’s, and it’s as simple as that. And it can be, it can be as- and, you know, for leaders listening to this, this can be a really powerful coaching tool, right? Somebody comes to you with a challenge, and you go, okay, well, let’s talk about a time when you felt really good about how you handled it. What was that situation? What were you doing? What was the conditions? What did you do differently that time? Think about, you know, what would be the ideal situation? You know, I remember you and I had a situation, where I was struggling with my CEO at the time, was really frustrated from the standpoint of feeling, like, verbally he was committing to the work, but he wasn’t actually doing the work, and he wasn’t living the values, and you know, and I was just so focused on being frustrated. And I remember we were at a restaurant that doesn’t exist anymore, Legends, and I was having their fantastic fries with ranch. And you said- and the question you asked me, was essentially a dreaming question of, like, what would you- what would it look like differently for you to feel better? And I hadn’t even considered that, because I was focused being frustrated. And that, you know, so then I was like, okay. So knowing that, you know, what do you- what do you want to do with that information. And, I mean, this is all to say, you know, again, like, there’s- we’re kind of dancing between all the layers with this, of like, how you can apply this tool, but it really is an incredibly powerful just way of thinking or processing that you can have available. And again, I’m going- I am going to- I do want to focus personally a bit, just because I know, I know people are struggling. And I know that they’re struggling with the transitions they’re in, they’re struggling with, like, navigating everything. And one of the things when I had first reached out to you about coming on the show, you were sharing with me the transition you’re in, and just how you’re trying to be really intentional about navigating into what does this next chapter of my life look like? What does this next chapter of my career look like? So I would love to give some good space to just show people, and to also just unpack together, you know, what does it look like? Or what can it look like? Not- there’s not one way, but what can it look like for us to think, again, I just keep using the word intentionally, I think you use discernment, right? Like, just how do we- how do we show up in a way that is intentionally moving us forward? So talk to us about, you know, where- so where are you at? So for people who are like, I’ve just met her, she sounds really brilliant. What else about- you know, know about her, but you are in a transition right now, personally.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 54:01
I am, I am. And I don’t actually know where I’m transitioning to, which is part of the, the, the sort of opportunity and challenge that I’m looking at, at the moment. So a little context here, my husband turned 80 in the middle of May, and I’m turning 65 in a few weeks. And the last number of years have- for the first time in our, in our marriage, our- that 15 year age difference is beginning to be much more evident for us. The- it’s, it’s, we’ve joked, you know, the threshold for getting old keeps going out a little further, and the time seems to be getting a year older, and so when he turned 65, and I was 50 years old, well, 65, no big deal. You know, yeah, that’s the traditional retirement age, but that’s Barry, and he’s great. And he kept- he was going, and 77, he was okay, and 75. Well, he hit 80, and it’s like, it sort of stopped both of us in our tracks, which is not to say that he’s ill. He’s not, he’s very vital. But he’s clearly on the elder end of life right now. And I see him, I see him, I can see that, I can see that now. And so the last, I’d say, five to 10 years have been a lot focused on, well, okay, he’s this age, but I’m this age, and I don’t want to miss- I don’t want to miss big 55, or 60, or 65, I’m not ready to sign up for that other life that is more age appropriate for him. But now I missed this place of I can kind of see where I’m going. Which is an interesting thing. You know, people who have had chronic illnesses that are- not chronic, but who’ve had a really a bad diagnosis, they talk about how it sort of wakes them up. That, you know, if they know that, if they know that, if they know there’s an endpoint, it changes their relationship with, with how they spend their time in the here and now. And we don’t always know there’s an endpoint. I mean, yes, life is a terminal condition, but we don’t always know it in our bones. But what has been true is that I’m coming to know it. You know, when we had our anniversary this year, I was thinking, okay, you know, I don’t think we’re gonna have another 20. Maybe 15, if we’re lucky, probably more like 10 to 15 is what we’re looking at. And what do we want to do with that time? So there’s this whole thing with my marriage. And then there’s this whole evolution that’s happening with appreciative inquiry. Where, you know, when I came into it, it was very, very new, it was very, very edgy. It was a lot of academic papers, with a thin book of appreciative inquiry that Sue Annis Hammond wrote, that was really quite wonderful, because it was the only book that was out there that said anything about how to do it, which was- Yeah, yeah. So there’s this whole evolution around appreciative inquiry, and how to make it as meaningful and relevant in the face of things like systemic racism. And for example, the, you know, some of these big issues, the big, hairy, audacious issues that are out there, how to make it really meaningful in those settings. And so there’s that. I have two wonderful partners, who I love working with, but they’re doing some interesting, interesting work that’s different than the work that I’m doing. And, and I’m just kind of feeling like it, it’s time to take inventory, and just sort of decide. So I, in a, on September 1, through December 31, I’m taking a four month sabbatical. And it’s thinking time. It’s thinking time. And part of that is modeled after, you know, it’s really interesting. As I’ve asked myself what I’ve been learning through this whole COVID thing, my gosh, when we all got blocked down, and everything went away for a period of time. There were a few months there where I didn’t know whether I would work again. It was, there was something really cool about that. There was something- there was a presence to that time.

Sarah Noll Wilson 59:41
Everything got unplugged. Like, everything got unplugged.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 59:44
Everything got unplugged.

Sarah Noll Wilson 59:46
For some of us.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 59:47
Yeah, yeah. And then, and then I started winding back up and trying to figure out how to work in that new environment, and I- on some level, I think we’re all working harder, now, than we were before. COVID started because we worked so hard to get it going again, and then, and then that’s the new habit, the new norm. So I’m gonna take this four months to just stop and think and decide, okay, assuming I’m coming back, which I think I probably am, assuming I’m coming back, what do I want that new back to look like? And what would be that really good balance that would allow me to be both, you know, more- have more space and time in my marriage, but also what are the other things I want to be doing besides working? Where else would I like my time to be spent, what are some of those things, that old saying about- you never thought- wanted on your tombstone to say I wished I’d worked more. So what do I, what do I want to be doing in addition to the good work that I’m doing, and what kind of space and time is needed for that? And, and so that’s the, that’s the plan. I’ve got four months. And then my partners and I have scheduled a day long retreat in mid January to talk about what we’ve all learned, you know, I hope they’ll want me back. If that’s what I want, I think they will, but I, you know, they, they’re going to make some discoveries while I’m off and away also. And, and I’m so looking forward to this. I really am. And, and the timing sort of interesting, because, of course, the economy is just going to hell in a handbasket. So there’s a little bit of-

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:01:57
We forgot to like, add that to the list of things.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:01:59
There’s a little bit of fear involved about, you know, will there be work when I, if I want to come back? Will there be work to come back to? And the fear has not been enough to cause me to want to do anything differently. So I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do with that time.

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:02:20
I love it. You need to come back and catch us up in January or February when you have that clarity. And ,you know, and, you know, and something you and I, you know, talked about, is not everyone may have the resources, right, to be able to take this kind of time. But we all can carve out moments to think and reflect and to, you know, and to not- I mean, again, I just go back to that autopilot. Like, you know, the pandemic definitely sort of disrupted all norms, all rituals on some level, and- which I don’t think is a bad thing, because it’s an opportunity for us to, obviously I would prefer to have not had to take this, or- but we have this opportunity to create something new, you know, like, potentially, like, some, you know, like some of us have that, that opportunity. And if you’re in leadership, you have an opportunity to rethink, how do we do it differently. And when you think about even your relationships, I think that the thing that has been the clearest for people, is that nobody’s the same now. You know, I was talking with my therapist, and we were joking, I said- I don’t remember who said it, but I’m like, at a cellular level, I am, you know, like, we are different. We are fundamentally different. And we’re rethinking everything, we’re rethinking work, and our energy, and our time, and our relationships. And I don’t think that that’s a bad thing. I don’t, you know, I don’t think that that’s a bad thing.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:03:58
Right, but it’s unfortunately a little too easy to go back to sleep, you know? That- I was thinking while you were talking, when I was talking about those, that first month or two in in 2019 when we weren’t leaving our houses except to take a walk. And I was thinking about how I could see the stars at night, that I couldn’t see, hadn’t seen for years because the ozone levels went down in Denver. And that, and that driving was so peaceful, because when I did go someplace, there were no cars, like there was no rush hour. there was- and there was this own, like, sort of sadness when that went away.

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:04:52
When things started to pick up?

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:04:53
When that picked up, and there’s been that also with you know, the downtime.

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:05:02
You know, hearing you talk about, you know, the quietness, and, you know, and again, like I recognize not everyone had that experience. But I, I’ve really vividly remember feeling a strong sense of loss the night before I was going to get my first vaccination, because-

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:05:23
Oh, yeah.

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:05:24
-because I, we had made this transition to virtual, and in partnership with Nick, and we, you know, we were doing some really cool stuff with it, and we had the whole studio set up. And I remember sitting in my chair, being really like, on one hand, excited, you know, wanting to have the protection so I could see my family, but on the other hand, just sad, as- and I thought, man, this sucks that we’re, there’s things we’ve developed and created together during this time that have been really energizing, and fun. And then I, then I had this moment of, why can’t we continue to do it? Right? Like, why can’t we? Why can’t we continue to do that? And again, making that, making that intentional choice, which is why as a company, that’s when we decided it will be virtual first, but not virtual only. And, you know, even even now, we still, you know, it’s probably like 50/50, you know, we do 50 virtual and, you know, 50% in person, and I’m actually really okay with that. And, you know, but it takes, it takes the ability to take a step back and reflect and go, so what do I want? Like, what do I like about it? I mean, that’s essentially what happened in a really quick way, was, like, wow, I’m really feeling sad. What did I, what did I love about that? Well, I love that I got to collaborate with Nick, and I love that Teresa got to participate in sessions that she wouldn’t normally, and I loved all this, and then I was like, dreaming about- well, so not that I necessarily ask the questions, because I feel like I’m, that’s such a kind of core practice now, it happened so quickly, of what it looked like? Like, what would it look like for us to do more of this? And so then it was okay, like, what do we need to make happen in order to, to make that happen? And now that’s just the norm. Like, we don’t even question that now. It’s not weird if nobody questions, oh, do you do virtual? It’s like, no, you know that we do, and we do it really well, and that’s, that’s part of our experience. But I mean, that’s, uh, you know, again, it goes to the- when we can make the time, even if it’s just five minute walk, a ten minute walk-

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:07:26
A pause.

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:07:27
A pause. Yeah. Just the power of that. And I think, in- again, in the times that we’re in, we need to cultivate those pauses more, so that we can move forward perhaps with more energy than we came into it.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:07:47
Right. Right. And so that we can- and so that we can make space for things that need quiet. You know, even if it’s just a minute of quiet, make space for the things that are not going to show up unless we give them the quiet.

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:08:10
I love that. Just that space for things to emerge. Amanda, as- this has been a treat. It’s always, it’s always a gift when we can be together.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:08:20
Yes, it is.

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:08:22
There is a question that we ask everyone. I don’t think I prepared you for this, so I’ll give you a moment.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:08:27
You did, you, you did.

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:08:27
Did I? Okay, so you’re ready? You’re ready for the question?

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:08:30
I’m ready for the question, and it took me no time at all to come up with the answer.

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:08:35
Almost always people are just like this is it. Okay, so the question that we ask everyone, and I always invite our audience to think about for themselves, is what was the conversation that happened with yourself or with someone else that was transformative?

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:08:51
And ironically, it was the conversation that was inspired by the very first appreciative interview that I ever participated in. I was in a workshop, I was being introduced to appreciative inquiry. And, and one of the first questions on that core, on those four core questions, was describe the peak experience or high point in your professional life. A time when you felt engaged, alive, inspired, and really proud of yourself in your work. And so context here, I, I was being asked this question. I was, I had had, at that point, a successful independent consulting practice for about eight years at that point. And when I was asked that question, I couldn’t find a moment. So within those eight years that I was, that I could answer, and I went back, and I went back, and back, and back, and I actually returned to an episode from my, from my mid 20s, when I had helped, I had worked with a bunch of people to create an organization development internship program in the Philadelphia area. It hadn’t existed, I was new to OD at that point. And it was this really high point for me, about being able to bring my skills, and partner with these very senior practitioners. And I, and I love that the way that we kind of came and went and traded, you know, traded our, traded our gifts, and our strengths, and built off each other, and I learned things, and I got to meet new people, and we created something really important that made a difference for several people. A really big difference for several people coming after us. I just was so proud of that experience. Well, you know, that’s supposed to make you feel so excited, that you feel like you can do anything. What that question did was it, it stopped me up short, because I thought I have been on my own for eight years, I can do anything I want to do, and why is it that I had to go back 15 years in order to be able to answer this question? And that really bugged me. And that, that stayed with me for the rest of the workshop. And then I had a five hour drive from that there to get home. And about an hour and a half into it, I started putting myself into the 4D cycle, though I didn’t really know what it was at the time. I thought, well, that, what was it that I loved about that experience? And I started thinking about there was this sense of purpose, the sense of community, the sense that I had unique gifts that were really going to make a difference there, the sense of trying something new, and doing something that had never been done. I mean, there was a long list, and I thought, well, what would it take for everything to look like that? And I started reinventing my consulting practice. As I came over the La Veta Pass, I started going through every project that I was working on, and thinking, okay, how could I, how could I create more of that here, and here, and here, and here. And there was one project that I was work- that had been called in on, that I was supposed to go in that Monday morning and review the agenda for a retreat that was coming up a week later, it was with a company called Hunter Douglas Window Fashion Devision. And, and I, I had been with them for three years. And so when I went in to them on Monday morning and said, you know, I know we had this agreement to do this a certain way, but I just, I wanted to try something different. And they let me do it. And so I brought into that retreat some of what I had learned in those two days, and they loved it. And, and long story short, that company, that organization got so, they got so energized by the appreciative inquiry work that they ended up launching a process that went on for a couple of years, two to three years thereafter. That was the place where I learned how to do AI. And that became from that point forward my answer to the peak experience question.

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:14:06
I love that.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:14:08
Until I found my next peak experience a few years after that. But that, it was like that was the moment where everything that I had wanted, I had a sense of purpose, I was doing something big, hairy, hadn’t been done before. I was stretching, I was learning, I was, I was co creating with people, my strengths were feeding in with other people’s strengths, and we were doing- the whole list of what had been so important for me, in that one project, it transferred over and it was there. So.

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:14:39
I love that. I don’t, I never, I didn’t know that story. I mean, I’m familiar with your Hunter Douglas stuff just from our conversations, and your book, but I really love- I love that, that that question of what’s your peak experience, and you realizing I don’t have it. So what does that mean? And what does that look like? And how do I-

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:14:57
I need to have it. I want to have it.

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:14:58
I need to have it, and I want to create more of that. I mean, even that is a question for people who are listening, of just reflect on that question and see what comes up for you. And how do you make more of that, in the work that you have?

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:15:09
It’s actually, it’s what you did with the COVID thing.

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:15:14
Yeah. It has been an absolute honor and treat. For people who are interested in learning more about the work, you do and how they can connect with you, what’s the best way for people to reach out?

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:15:27
They can reach out, they can go to our website, which is Rocky Mountain Positive Change dot org. All one word. They can also reach me by email, Amanda at Positive Change dot org, I would love to talk with anybody who is intrigued about any aspect of what we’ve discussed today.

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:15:46
Yeah, and we’ll put all that information in the show notes. And, and for those of you who are listening, we always love to give away resources when we have the opportunity to, so if you shoot us a message at podcast at Sarah Noll Wilson dot com, the first, we’ll say the first five to ten people who reach out, we’ll connect you with one of Amanda’s great books. I love all of them-

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:16:07
Oh, that’s great.

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:16:09
-and I particularly love, I love the team building one, but the the questions, even just your “Encyclopedia of Positive Questions” is such a provocative one because it just shows you what a generative question can look like. So if you’re interested in a copy of Amanda’s book, shoot us a message, be sure to connect with her. Amanda as always, thank you for being so generative, thank you for being you know, the word didn’t come up today. Juicy. I mean, that’s usually like, that’s a, you know, it’s an Amanda-ism that I think about from our training, but just a wholehearted thank you for being just beautifully and brilliantly you. So, thank you.

Amanda Trosten-Bloom 1:16:48
Thank you. Thank you, Sarah, so much. And thank you for taking time for us to visit today. It was a treat.

Sarah Noll Wilson 1:16:56
Thank you. Our guest this week has been my dear friend and mentor, Amanda Trosten-Bloom. And, you know, one of the things that I’m holding on to, is just that idea of how can I create more moments of pause, to let the space for what needs to be thought about, happen? Because that’s something that I definitely struggle with. And we would love to hear from you. What resonated? What are you curious about? What are you doing differently as a result of our conversation together? And you can connect with us at anytime at podcast at Sarah Noll Wilson dot com. You can also connect with me on social media, my DMs are always open. And just as a reminder, if you do reach out to us and shoot us an email, we will send copies of her books to the first 10 people who connect with us. And if you’d like to learn more about the work that we do, and how we could support your team have conversations that matter, you can check us out at at Sarah Noll Wilson dot com. Also, if you haven’t yet, check out my book, “Don’t Feed the Elephants!” wherever books are sold. And if you like the show and you want to support us, please consider becoming a patron. You can go to Patreon dot com backslash Conversations on Conversations, where your financial support will not only sustain the financial stability of the show, and support the amazing team we have, you’ll also receive some pretty great benefits. And if you haven’t already, please rate, subscribe, and leave a review for the show. The more reviews we get, the more we’re able to interview and bring on amazing guests like Amanda Trosten-Bloom. Thank you to our incredible team, as always, who makes this podcast possible. I am the one in front of the microphone and the screen, but I am not the one who makes this all happen. So a big shout out to our producer, Nick Wilson, our sound editor Drew Noll, our transcriptionist, Olivia Reinert, and our marketing consultant, Kaitlyn Summitt-Nelson, as well as a big thank you to the rest of the SNoWco crew that makes all of this happen. And a final, big, big thanks to Amanda Trosten-Bloom for joining us, for sharing so vulnerably, for giving us wisdom and insight, and some really practical tips we can use to have more meaningful conversations with ourselves and with others. This has been Conversations on Conversations. Thank you so much for listening and giving us your time and attention, and remember, when we can change the conversations we have with ourselves and with others, I really do believe we can change the world. So thank you all, please make sure you rest, rehydrate, and we’ll see you again next week.

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