Positive Change – A motorcycle trip as a metaphor for Positive Change

September 29, 2017 by tjwylie

A 5-part series on Positive Change through the lens of a motorcycle trip

Part I – The Beginning – Leveraging Success

The trip began 7 days ago as I prepared to head to Golden, CO for the annual Corporation for Positive Change meeting.  For the trip, I decided to ride my motorcycle with my friend and CPC partner Frank van Erkel.  We rode to Golden and then decided to take the long-way back to Lexington, which made for 3100+ miles of road time. During the ride, I become aware that the trip was a metaphor for Positive Change and the way CPC works with our clients.

When we engage with a client, we spend time in the beginning researching previous success, organizational strengths and sources of energy along with aspirations.  In preparation for the ride, I researched not only the route and also what was possible from a physical and mental perspective – 400 miles or more of riding per day requires physical and mental stamina.  In reflecting on past rides, I asked what gave me energy and what made the rides most enjoyable plus what was my aspiration for this ride.  I quickly went through the appreciative inquiry 4-D cycle which is one of the tools of our positive change practice.  The first part being the identification of past successes, strengths and aspirations.

My experience taught me that the daily distance would be energetic as previous road trips of great distance had left me with energy.  Physically and mentally I was in good shape, so stamina would be ok plus the energy of the road would infuse more stamina.  Finally, my aspiration was to see the country, ride with my friend and spend some wind therapy reflecting on the year.  This gave me such energy and excitement that I was ready to go and began visualizing what the ideal trip would be like.  As I thought about, my last long road trip, I became more excited as the emotions and joy of the trip made the upcoming trip less challenging and seem more like a pleasure to be enjoyed.

When clients first engage with CPC, we spend hours exploring previous successes, positive experiences with similar initiatives, organizational strengths, periods of high energy along with times when goals were exceeded and the reasons for this.  From this positive inquiry, we are able to identify organizational success factors and behaviors that led to previous success, which allows us to leverage these experience for the current initiative.  A pleasant ripple effect of this type of inquiry is that it reminds the organization of the drivers of success while creating tremendous energy for the new initiative.  This energy is from the realization that previous opportunities have been embraced and implemented.  It reminds participants that focusing on positive outcomes and actions has a multiplier effect for future action and results.

Next, we explore the aspiration and inspiration for the initiative.  This will be addressed in Part II of the Series, look for it.

Ralph Weickel is President with Corporation for Positive Change, and Principal of European Center for Positive Change  & Performance Management.

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