For the Ambitious & Anxious: Appreciative Inquiry.


Valuing; the act of recognizing the best in people or the world
around us; affirming past and present strengths, successes and
potentials; to perceive those things that give life (health, vitality,
excellence) to living systems.

By qualification I’m an economist and statistician… By profession I’m a tax accountant and real estate agent… By weekend I’m a tax student, an event planner and a party girl lol. The reason i decided to pursue a diverse path is because I’m a strong believer in diversity. I believe a person has the ability to be a JACK OF ALL TRADES BUT MASTER OF NONE. I love to learn something new each and everyday because I believe my brain was built to acquire as much knowledge as it can possibly hold. My motto in life is simple. IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING. – JC

She has always been hungry, exacting, forceful, go-getting, purposeful, demanding, exacting…Ambitious. Now, anyone whose ever wanted anything will testify that the space between wanting and having causes a lot of anxiety. Like I said, she has always been hungry, exacting, forceful, go-getting, purposeful, demanding, exacting…Anxious. I recognized that this was not a state unique to her, millennials have been labelled the most ambitious generation,  unsurprisingly they’ve also been labelled the most stressed out generation and ‘Generation Stress’ has been added to their multitude of titles. Thus, I  figured that she was not the only person who was afraid of being unfulfilled potential and when I came across the philosophy of appreciative inquiry I was quite anxious to share it!

When attempting to change, fix or better something, we usually start with the questions ‘What is going wrong? What are the problems and how can we eliminate them?’ Basically we look for the negatives. Conversely, the appreciative inquiry is a problem solving/ examining model that asks us to look for what’s going right and build on that!

We have all experienced amazing moments, moments when it all seems to come together. Moments we are really doing our best, performing at our peak and feeling pride in our accomplishments, thus when we’re feeling stuck when charting the map from point A to B, sometimes the answer lies in your previous successes. Karlin Sloan says “Your own stories hold the key to the best there is in you.”

Excited about my discovery, I went forth and asked the world what the world what their best stories were (oxymoronic I know!)


The response was overwhelming as people unknowingly conducted their own appreciative inquiries. Before you go ahead and do your own, go through these; (I hope they fill up with as much bubbliness and positivity as they do for me)

When I was about 14 I wrote that industries would be born to make room for my gifts. I tossed that diary and got buried in boarding school, passing grade twelve and fumbling my way into university. There was no course that matched anything I was good at or remotely interested in. I did university anyway and got many side gigs that increased my network, my perspective and skills. After my first degree I landed a job in marketing and the roles in that field kept coming. I’m currently a Marketing and Communications executive who studied Social Work and Psychology. Its a role that I’ve only been able to qualify for through diverse experiences, an open mind and stubborn faith in my ability to learn.
Its rewarding to see things people said would never amount to anything take me a step further in my journey. I am an artistic person who broke the stereotype and its great! Social media management was not a viable career, neither was writing but companies are expanding their marketing budgets to make room for both. That inspires me to keep going, because its true industries will be born to create room for every skill and gifting. – MS

I’ve been most amazed at my work when I felt most uninspired, when I was literally crawling to the final full-stop. I don’t know why this is, but this seems to be the pieces people love the most. Maybe it’s because I’m taking my time and I’m not rushing through it. Maybe it’s because when I feel uninspired the writer in me refuses to die….but I appreciate that from a place of no inspiration the words still connect beautifully. – LK

What amazes me the most about my work is the fact that with a little I can change someone’s life forever and give some hope.  – PHM

I have come to learn that customer service is not a department but an attitude, I am inspired to do more whenever a customer is happy and satisfied. Sometime ago, I worked on query from a customer who had purchased airtime from their account, the account was debited but the airtime did not reflect, I was able to help out with of course help from my other colleagues on the fastest way we could reverse the transaction and money was credited back. The customer was pleased at how quickly it was done. -KBD

My inspiration came from the feedback I got from my seniors and customers about my brilliant service. Gave me drive to want to do More. Being part of a team that required me to do certain things equally inspired me because then if I don’t put it my part of the job, the whole team suffers. – CC

I was most excited when everything I had planned worked out eventually, I found that planning ahead made my work much easier and having things in order allowed for me to help the organisation run smoothly. – MPOJK

Well, i feel inspired by reading the books I’ve already written. Sometimes i seem to get discouraged mid project. So i have to remind myself and i have done it before. Four times in fact. Lol. It’s gratifying.  – NM

So am in external audit. I have been inspired by the dedication of the people in my workplace. The drive to provide a value adding service to our clients as well as the learning experience from our clients. There’s never a point when I can say I know it all, Just every client is different in one way or another.  – EM

I have never worked so hard my entire life, but I have never cared about the work so much before either. I initially joined global health work when I saw first hand how our health systems as a country were failing and the lack of motivation and terrible work ethic that most health care workers had. This perspective is still strong but recently on a work visit, I met the most amazing people at a hospital in Mufulira, people so passionate and full of love I was so moved. In a country where there is really one perspective on health care systems and workers, its always good to see driven and innovative people managing to go above and beyond even with all the struggles that they may face. This will forever remain with me and has made me think that maybe what we need as a country might not be to have drastic change but to replicate the few things that are working well. – JM

I’m a civil servant (don’t lynch me), I’m most inspired when I see ideas turn into projects which then have a nation wide impact, it reminds how important what I do is. – MK

Am a photographic artist who prides her work that comes from a point of passion and am currently growing my brand Alice-Mulo. And because of it am now able to give back to the community, from great photographic art pieces. For me that inspires me to do better and it excites me when I think of how big a dream I have and the possibility of it becoming a reality amazes me. -AM

Funny I get inspired every time I complete a task – I’m absolutely serious. It’s normally immaterial whether I’m submitting it to anyone or publishing it somewhere. Which can be terrible cause I spend time admiring my own work. But for this purpose – when I figured out a method of executing my thesis. Obviously the possible innovation from how to get around this was intriguing. Its rather boring that people tend to stay on the sidelines in theses!. So I analysed it over and over, using all the bandwidth my head could spare – until the Eureka moment played out (while driving actually – so couldn’t run out shirtless!). – WN

The best feeling is when I meet someone ‘in real life’ and they tell me they loved an article or story I wrote. Some people don’t want to leave likes or comments on social media, but they can be quite ecstatic when I meet them. It’s so good to know that people are actually reading your work and enjoying it. Today, someone sent me a friend request after reading my story in the Caine Prize 2016 anthology. I found that he even had a post where he recommends mine, and other stories to his friends on Facebook. It’s the little things like that that inspire me. – BB

To the hungry, exacting, forceful, go-getting, purposeful, demanding, exacting… Ambitious, the next time you feel stuck, stagnant or uninspired, ask yourself;

When have I been inspired, excited, or amazed by my work? What are the details of that story? How did I feel physically and mentally? What was the impact on me?

I find inspiration from a lot of things and people but just to mention a few..I get my inspiration from every hard working and motivated woman on this planet like my mum and my good friends. These are a few people that drive me everyday by how ambitious they are. Not to be biased but I am a firm believer in women empowerment and so any woman that goes above and beyond is simply an inspiration to me. I derive pleasure in every single thing i do because i am passionate about my work, though it gets crazy to juggle sometimes, I remember why I do what I do and just how much it means to me and I’m right back on track. Wake up every single day reminding yourself why you are embarking on whatever journey you choose. – JC


Disclaimer: Don’t get me wrong, growth is or should be an all inclusive journey and cannot be achieved by solely looking to the past, this piece of writing serves to share but one path towards doing good and living better.

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