Developing Community

Developing Community

Welcoming Robyn Stratton-Berkessel as a featured guest blogger.  Robyn is a world renowned expert in Appreciative Inquiry and is known as the Positivity Strategist.  We are thrilled to have her here sharing her wisdom with you.

In her post, Take Action Despite your Fear, Susan shares how fear can get in the way of our own performance. Reading Susan’s insightful post triggered a lot of connections for me about fear. I’d like to build on her insights and link it to the key message of my recent TEDx talk… more about that later.

Fear of failure

Just to recall, Susan points out how fear of failure is self-sabotage that may prohibit us from taking action. She cites examples, ranging from early childhood when we were fearful of raising our hands to contribute our ideas in the classroom situation, to adulthood when the thought of public speaking can freak us out.

Fear of the unknown

Equally pervasive is another kind of fear, and it’s related. It’s fear of others or the unknown and is far more subtle; therefore, we may not be as aware of it, yet it does stand in the way of our personal leadership and our ability to lead others. In the workplace, fear of others and the unknown may be evidenced when a new person joins the team, a new leader is hired, or a new company takes over. These examples are about adapting to change.

Different perspectives

This fear comes from the need for self-preservation. We fear others who may not be like us, or who have different perspectives that we don’t yet understand. This fear absolutely gets in the way of building relationships, and slows down progress whatever the context. I love the two questions Susan poses in her post:

  • We all have fear, but will we let fear have us?
  • Will we let that feeling of fear prevent us from creating the community, the workplace, the life or even the world we want?

Positive emotions

In my TEDxNavesink Talk, I draw on one of my all time favorite quotes.

“You don’t fear people whose story you know.” Margaret Wheatley

The talk, entitled “Playful Inquiry – Try this Anywhere,” illustrates how positive emotions open us up to be more understanding, tolerant, and inclusive of others — thereby breaking down barriers to fearing others. Positivity leads to greater flourishing.

As a Positivity Strategist, reframing the negative emotion of fear is a development activity. This simile says it succinctly:

Life is like photography; we develop from the negatives. tweet this

Fear is a negative emotion, which serves us. And, we are learning from the science of positive psychology and research into positivity that positive emotions serve us better, as the compound effect of positivity can lead to lives of greater flourishing. Moreover, if we can build our positivity ratio to 3:1, we build resiliency — thereby enabling us to face fear and adversity by strengthening our positivity over time.

Developing community

Developing our capacity to include others and build relationships is as simple as starting with a simple, appreciative question.  As leaders in our communities, in our businesses, the invitation is to become more increasingly mindful of the emotional response our questions evoke. With such a level of awareness, collectively, over time we’ll lead others toward “creating the community, the workplace, the life or even the world we want.”


Robyn Stratton-Berkessel


Robyn can be found at Positivity Strategist.



photo credit: Editor B


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