by Maria Sirois

Just over a month ago, nearly 40 of us gathered to launch an Appreciative Inquiry Summit on behalf of WBI and those we serve, collaborate with, and inspire.
I want to bring you up to date on the progress we’ve made and the callouts (see below) that we are now making on behalf of all those who joined us in the 50+ pre-summit interviews and post-summit conversations.

Titled “The Power of One/The Power of Many: The Rising Spiral of Our Connected Community,” the summit was designed to provide an environment of inquiry in which we could cull from the best of what had been, in order to create an exciting future. In their recent blog post, Lori Tuominen and Phoebe Atkinson provided an opening framework for dialogue around our exploration of this theme and our summit day, with the goal of articulating the practical perspectives and steps that have emerged.

First, the initial question: We asked those in attendance to consider a time when they were part of a system and when they and the organization were at their best for and with each other. This question stems from WBI’s long-standing value of creating programs and services that not only answer a market need, but also create platforms for growth for those who participate in our programs. It is a question that emerges from the very foundation of wholeness, with an abiding assumption that, when we are at our best as a company, we elevate the growth of others—and, when others in this beautiful positive psychology application playground are at their best, they elevate our work, too. In other words, health, well-being, and success rest on the whole.

From this question and similar questions that were asked in the pre-summit interviews, we discerned areas of interest from our colleagues and friends that addressed our summit focus: the power of one/the power of many. Below, I address three of those areas, with information on how we will activate and prioritize related action items.

1. Technology of Connection: A formal, clear pathway for the exchange of information, wisdom, and research.

There appears to be a deep hunger across our international body of colleagues for robust pathways of gathering wisdom from each other, including who did what final project, who is using what applications and how they are working, who knows about this study, or who holds this area of expertise. WBI is seen as a potential platform for the kind of exchange that enables each of us to continue advancing in our own niche of positive psychology, and to know what our colleagues are up to on their journeys.

A fascinating portrayal of this longing was demonstrated by a subgroup at the summit that visualized WBI as the hub of a wheel, with each spoke providing information of a different kind to colleagues and friends. That image and framework has been core to WBI’s success to date. And … we recognize that the kind of exchange you most long for and that elevates your expertise, as well as that of our faculty and staff, must be represented not as a wheel but a fluid, evolving, adaptive framework in which sometimes you are driving information exchange and sometimes WBI is. This recognition will take time to manifest into a practical structure and flow.

To begin to address this, we have prioritized exploration into the viability of podcasts (thank you to the group that offered this creative idea!) in which friends and colleagues are interviewed, offering expertise, updating us on final projects, and identifying emerging areas of interest. A small subcommittee from the Summit Steering Committee began this exploration immediately.

2. The Story of WBI

A powerful moment occurred during the summit in which a relatively simple idea blossomed into a keystone for growth. One of our subgroups, as part of a dream challenge, drew the shape of an inverted triangle, with WBI at the base of the triangle—and the “I” representing both the Institute and the Individual. That simple graphic has catalyzed so much positive energy, inciting a verbal challenge to see how many “I” words are important to our mission and growth, such as inspiration, impact, integrity, etc. But, deeper than that, we began to see that, in order to support our sustainable, interrelated futures, it is time to write the story of WBI anew.

What had been a dream of Megan’s and Tal’s has become so much larger than what they first imagined. And, in this next phase, we want to be clear that WBI is centered on its core mission of delivering extraordinary programming on positive psychology application, and leveraging that “I” such that we all benefit.

As a priority, Megan has begun to draft the story of the next phase. More on that to come from her, but I can say now that this story, rooted in the core strengths of our past, looks to an extraordinary future of greater global ignition, robust networking between and among our audiences, and continued excellence in positive psychology application.

Moreover, an active blog conversation from this appreciative lens perspective has begun, helping us stay connected to you on the WBI site and on our Facebook page. You, in other words, are helping to write the next chapter of this story. Your interests, your questions, and your perspectives on the field are important, and we will be paying close attention to what you are excited about and what you know to be true.

3. Ignition of Global Impact

Our community reaches from Slovenia to South Africa, from Japan to Alaska, and so many places in between. We have programs in New England, Mexico, and California, and are in dialogue now with CIPP alumnus Henrique Bueno about bringing our work to Brazil. As a priority for 2018/2019, Henrique will be exploring offerings in Portuguese, borrowing from the wisdom of colleague Arlen Solodkin, who has successfully brought CiPP to Latin America through translations into Spanish.

While we continue reaching a global network through our online programs, we are also deeply interested in supporting our colleagues who are also teaching and training internationally. Currently, we have WBI-trained presenters at the Canadian Positive Psychology Association Conference, the European Positive Psychology Conference, and the World Positive Education Accelerator with IPEN, and many of you are actively teaching in your home countries and regions throughout the world. As we devote our energy to exploring this model of structures that potentiate more successful networking, we seek to empower this global network.

A Callout to You
Here are three specific requests of you at this time. We hope you’ll join us in this appreciative journey as we make these priorities real.

Podcasts: If you would like to engage with the subcommittee exploring this method of sharing news, expertise, and networking opportunities, please write to me.

The Technology of Connection: If you have wisdom or interest in examining successful models of networked organizations that have a fluid exchange of communication and leadership, I would love to hear from you.

The AI Journey: If you want to continue to be involved in this appreciative inquiry–based process on behalf of WBI, even if you are not sure how, please reach out.

Contact me at mariasirois1@gmail.com regarding any of these requests or any conversation about this journey moving forward.


MariaSirois Dr. Maria Sirois, PsyD, is the Vice President of Curriculum at Wholebeing Institute and an inspirational speaker, seminar leader, and author who has worked at the intersections of wellness, psychology, and spirituality for nearly 20 years. As a wellness guide, Maria has been invited to keynote throughout the country at conferences for wellness centers, hospitals, hospices, and philanthropy, business, academic, and corporate institutions, as well as for the general public. She has been called a “true teacher” and “an orator of great power and beauty.” She is the author of “A Short Course in Happiness After Loss (And Other Dark, Difficult Times)” and “Every Day Counts: Lessons in Love, Faith, and Resilience from Children Facing Illness”.