Action vs. Activity
Positive Questions for Professional Development: Setting the Stage

Professional Development from Inspiration, Not Desperation

I've been thinking a lot lately about positive questions and their connection to professional development. Last week I talked about the power of positive priming and how brain research shows that when we have negative expectations for learning and development, we are less likely to learn from our experiences. I also discussed positive questioning and how reframing the questions we focus our brains on can lead us to better solutions and more effective planning. 

What I've been noticing lately is how much of our professional development seems to be deficit-based. For many people, professional development only occurs when there is a "lack"--they lack a skill management thinks they need to have or there's a performance issue that companies decide to tackle through training. Training also seems to occur at times of crisis--we seek to develop our skills when we are worried about losing our jobs, or maybe we've lost them already. 

What would happen if we looked at professional development as an asset-based, positive activity? What if, instead of looking for professional development based on what we lack, we approached it as a way to build upon our strengths, to grow and expand? What if we looked at how to create the most supportive and inspirational development environment for ourselves so that we found ways to have more of what we want and need to grow personally and professionally? What if professional development came from inspiration, not desperation? 

This week I plan to do a series of posts on the idea of using positive questioning to frame our professional development experiences, both individually and as organizations. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this--experiences you've had in using positive questioning for professional development, ideas on how you think it could change how we do professional development, etc. Let me know what you think. Conversation is the heart of learning!


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This is helpful for me in thinking about my customers. The learning professionals who are the users of my tools are often eager self-motivated life-long learners. They have to inspire people who only learn when they have to.

Hmmm. I know the idea of playing with pictures is appealing to people partially for this reason. But as you point out, there is more to this. Looking forward to watching how you unpack the ideas.

Thanks, Christine--I'm actually deep in the process of writing these posts right now and excited to see what others think. I agree that a lot of us are self-motivated learners, so we've already found the positive core in all of this. But I'm wondering how re-framing learning with positive questions for people who feel less motivated might work. And completely agree about the visuals. I may do a separate post on that after I get some of the question stuff out there.

What an innovative approach to PD!

Thanks, Kristi! I hope you'll check out the posts this week and let me know what you think about how this could work!

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