By: Patrick Williams, EdD, MCC
In his introduction to the Handbook of Positive Psychology (Snyder, C.R. and Lopez, S. editors, 2002), Martin Seligman stated:
“I believe that a psychology of positive human functioning will arise that achieves a scientific understanding and effective interventions to build thriving individuals, families and communities. You may think this is pure fantasy that psychology will never look beyond the victim, the underdog, and the remedial. But I want to suggest that the time is finally right. . . . I predict that Positive Psychology in this new century will come to understand and build those factors that allow individuals, communities, and societies to flourish.”
I believe that the timing could not be more crucial. Global warming of the human kind needs to erupt in surprising and multiple places on Earth. Didn't it surprise most experts when the Berlin wall came down? What metaphorical walls could come down if there were a mass movement of people-to-people and village-to-village peaceful actions with positive intentionality? All movements begin on a person-to-person basis. Maybe it's time for another peace movement catalyzed by the coach-approach to life and the science of Positive Psychology.
Starting a global conversation
For 18 years, I was a member of Rotary International (I travel too much now to be a member locally). During that time, I had the great experience of volunteering with projects in Mexico several times. Six exchange students also lived in our home for three to six month periods. Both of these experiences birthed great warmth in my life toward the Mexican culture. I began these experiences unfamiliar with our south of the boarder cousins. My involvement expanded my view of diversity and the importance of being curious and open-minded rather than judgmental and close-minded. Many other organizations sponsor similar cultural exchange programs. As a professional coach, I now wonder how professional coaches could begin to sponsor similar experiences with the coach-approach at the center.
I have enormous confidence in the positive impact that authentic coaching conversations could have on the world. What would it take to start a coaching conversation movement? Could we be local catalysts like the woman in Africa who is planting millions of trees? Maybe we could be the nationwide genesis for relational warming, like the young teenagers who started Cell Phones for Soldiers as a way for men and women in the armed services around the globe to communicate affordably with their families. Great movements start with little more than an idea, and personal passion.
What would it take to make coaching conversations a buzzword on YouTube, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and blogs everywhere? I believe people really want to feel more connected with others, which is evident in the explosive evolution of social media. In our digital, segmented, multi-cultural tribal world, we are still looking for genuine connectedness, real relationships. I believe people are curious about other cultures, and would rather experience others in a way that creates mutual respect, rather than hide behind prejudicial walls of unfamiliarity. We can end the negative emotions that are anchored in the unknown which prevent openness to learning.
I would like to know how we could start a Global Warming in People's Hearts message and spread this message around the globe. Let's get together and do something big to create an increase in global warming within the human family.