Appreciative Inquiry: You’re Great, We’re All Great.

http://saraferguson.carbonmade.comThe New York Times reports that some psychologists believe we are raising a narcissistic generation.


The psychologists point to the love songs young people sing to themselves today.  Instead of “we” and “us” the lyrics are studded with “I” and “me”, as in “I’m bringing sexy back” and “It’s blazin’, you watch me in amazement.” This raises a red flag: a self-centered attitude and narcissism blunts effective emotional intelligence and can get in the way of great performance.

This topic made me think about appreciative inquiry. Does it encourage narcissism, an inflated sense of self-importance and a preoccupation with self? Appreciative inquiry does focus attention away from the problems in one’s life onto what works.

But, in my experience, that is almost always in the context of other people: what works for me in the office, in the family and in other life relationships. It’s a “we” analysis.  Though the idea of Appreciative Inquiry starts at the self, it also deliberately assesses where we are with perspective towards those we work with, live with and our other relationships.

And the process of selecting what works, at its foundation, also acknowledges that some other things don’t work. That’s the opposite of narcissism.  The purpose of appreciative inquiry is to build on what works to become the best we can be in all aspects of life. This is profoundly different from what Rivers Cuomo claims in, “I’m the greatest man that ever lived.”  This type of statement takes into no account the benefit of the community and support around us.

To read the Times story, click here. Remember to sign up for my weekly blog notice to see the topic for conversation!



Dr. Lynn K. Jones

Certified Personal and Executive Coach


  1. Alejandra O. on May 27, 2011 at 5:37 am

    This reminded me about what Stephen R. Covey says In the 7 habits of Effective People audio CD. He says that we are highly interdependent people and that it is much more mature to combine one’s own effort and the effort of others to accomplish a goal.
    He says that to accomplish this we must first become independent to a very high degree by building character.

    I don’t see any development of character by this lyrics. According to the article this songs are creating hate, loneliness and depression as well.


  2. lynnkjones on May 27, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Such a good point, Alejandra! An all about me perspective does not allow for any character building or the interdependent collaboration that we know is required of excellent leadership efforts!

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