A First-Hand Report on the Power of Appreciative Inquiry (Guest Blog)

What can you ask yourself today about your past, present, and future, that can put you back in touch with the best in you?”
~ Mei Huang

Mei Huang Mines for Strengths

Mei Huang Mines for Strengths

A Guest Blog Filed by Mei Huang, M. Ed. CCC

 She sat up front in both sessions of my College of Executive Coaching Appreciative Inquiry class and as we worked through the 5D process of Design, Discover, Dream, Design and Destiny, I could see that AI was making sense to Mei on a deep level.

It turns out I was right, Mei later told me that she had been using AI style techniques in her work as a mental health counsellor for ten years and knew from her experience “how potent and uplifting using AI can be.”

I was moved by the power of using AI and how it could shift my clients’ experience from hopeless to hopeful, powerless to empowered, and fearful to confident,” explains Mei Huang, M. Ed. CCC.

I asked Mei to share some stories of how she has been able to “dig for gold” to find the “strengths, values, solutions, dreams, and courage” that her clients didn’t know they had once she got back home to her office in Fredericton, Canada.   Here are 3 stories of transformation using AI that Mei shared.

[Tweet “#AI “What can u ask yourself that will put u in touch with the best in u?””]

Past: The “Gold Mine” of Strengths

“How did you manage that?” I asked the 39-year-old single mother of two who came to me after recently having lost a loved one. This was our second session; grief had taken a toll on her. Physically and emotionally weakened, I could see how scared and frustrated she was about “not being stronger.”

In the previous session, this client briefly mentioned having gone through an extremely difficult break-up from her abusive ex-husband two years prior. I decided this was the time that we start “digging for gold” from that past experience. We spent the next 10 minutes discussing how she managed to leave her abusive husband of 10 years, zeroing in on the strengths and values that carried her through.

I asked, “Can the same strengths and values help her face this new challenge?” As always, the answer readily surfaced from within her. Before long, her eyes lighted up and dark clouds lifted from her face, replaced by an expression of confidence and determination. The rest of the session was a breeze discussing concrete actions she could take to better prepare for her return to work.

Present: The “Mirror” of What is Working

“What are you doing that you think is helping you feel a little better?” I asked my severely depressed client who had reported feeling a tiny bit better. It turned out that he was getting out for a 10-minute walk 3-4 times a week. This was not on the list of things we discussed in our previous session, some of which he also managed to do. I knew this was the moment for us to look into the “mirror” and really see what was working for the client. So we looked and looked with admiration and appreciation. And we talked about how to do more of what was working.

At the end of the session, I asked the client what he liked the most about our work that day. He said that he liked that we had focused on the “little steps” and that he felt “satisfied” and “confident” about taking them.

Future: The Land of Possibilities

Sometime, past experiences leave the client hopelessly stuck in a present that seems impossible to change. When I invited my Monday evening client to imagine what it would look like when she traveled into the future and was enjoying the kind of relationships she longed for with her siblings, happy images just popped out of her: talking on the phone regularly, visiting each other, even taking vacations together.

“What would you notice yourself doing more when that happens?” She was a little surprised by her own answer: “I would be calling them more often and asking them to do the same for me.” The images she saw in her mind that day seemed to have given her a boost of energy and some new actions to think about. More importantly, she realized that she really did want that kind of relationship with her siblings, and it would be worth the effort to do everything in her power to make it happen.

All of us can tap into the power of AI. What can you ask yourself today about your past, present, and future, that can put you back in touch with the best in you?

Mei Huang, M. Ed. CCC

Canadian Certified Counselor


Want to learn about your Strengths and how they can be a gold mine for you? Schedule a Free StrengthsFinder assessment at Dr. Lynn’s Calendar

If you would like a practical way to begin mirroring what is working, check out this blog post Why SHOULD You Focus on the Positive?

Curious about this idea of how an “image in our mind” can spur you into action? Read about the power of imaging and how it even moved a man out of homelessness here.


Dr. Lynn K. Jones

Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Board Certified Coach and an Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach based in Santa Barbara, California and a sought after coach and consultant for organizations and individuals across the US. Her doctoral work completed at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concerned organizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values using a process of Appreciative Inquiry. She coaches individuals on achieving their reflected best selves. A MSW@USC faculty member, Dr. Lynn K. Jones, MSW, DSW, CSWM, teaches Human Behavior and Social Environment and Leadership to social work students at the University of Southern California.

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