Speaker: Focus on the positive to make the region better
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent February 14, 2013 11:29PM
W. Joye Hardiman
Updated: March 17, 2013 6:18PM
VALPARAISO — Focus on the positive.
That was W. Joye Hardiman’s method for how a diverse region works together to build a great region in a global economy.
Hardiman, an emeritus faculty member from Evergreen State College, spoke Thursday at Strongbow Inn as part of the Dare to Dream initiative sponsored by the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at Ivy Tech Community College Northwest.
Hardiman’s approach was appreciative inquiry, which focuses on positive qualities to leverage the future.
“Appreciative inquiry dwells on the successes,” she told a sold-out crowd of business, education and community leaders, adding that instead of focusing on a negative pathology, appreciative inquiry focuses on the positive.
“Change that negative thought. Change that thought that keeps us from moving forward in a positive way.”
Positive thinking, she said, stimulates creative vision. “When you’re looking for possibilities, the mind expands in a way that it doesn’t when you focus on the minutiae.”
She noted Fair Oaks Farms — the farms’ president and chief executive officer Gary Corbett was one of five speakers from the region — where waste from its cows are converted into methane to power the facility.
“The whole principle is to take that which we see as a negative and turn it into a positive,” Hardiman said.
Traditionally, folks see a problem and decide they need to solve it, and when people look at something through the lens of having a problem, they only see more problems.
“What is required is a paradigm shift from how we traditionally see things,” Hardiman said, adding if someone looks for what’s right, they will find it.
That includes seeing what’s good in people and celebrating it, as well as taking down the fences — or barriers — between communities, and understanding that as diverse as people are, they also share commonalities.
She talked about her uncle, who was going to run for city council in her hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. He was a dark-skinned African-American when racism was still rampant, and his wife, who had lighter skin, ran instead and won, and he supported her wholeheartedly.
Her uncle said, “We are not here to see through each other, we are here to see each other through,” a quote that drew applause from the audience.
“Sometimes, this work takes compromise,” Hardiman said. “We have to go from ego to we go.”