Research supports the mindshift from focusing on needs, to focusing on strengths when we desire a change in behavior. For example, research suggests that positive affective states are necessary when engaging in problem solving and creative thinking, two necessary ingredients to ensure change and implementation.
Further, research shows that working from a place of strengths or assets, rather than identifying needs or weaknesses, allows learners to experience greater openness for change and growth.
The mindshift, of working from a place of strength, came easily in my interactions with children and families; so why not in my work with adult learners? In other words, a quick look at my efforts to plan, personalize, and ensure change in practice reveals a strong emphasis on identifying adult learner NEEDS. Perhaps, however, I should have been focusing on strengths. But how? What steps can I take to be more strength-based?
To help me work from a place of strength, I enlisted the advice of my colleague, Tina Ughrin (@), of Smile Minded Smartworks, LLC. Together, we have begun to rework traditional “needs assessments” that are often used in planning professional development workshops, college courses, and coaching sessions.
We call our twist on this tradition, “Asset and Opportunity Assessments.”
To help spark the mindshift of working from a place of strength with adult learners, we offer several examples in an IF/THEN format. See the table below for six different examples of assessing assets and opportunities.
We encourage you to use these strength-based strategies the next time you are presenting a keynote, conducting a conference breakout session, facilitating a professional development workshop, and/or coaching adult learners.
As you continue to work from a place of strength, you may face resistance. You may also find that some adult learners have difficulty identifying strengths. Try doing this THRIVE activity in this instance. And, I encourage you to read this blog about what we can control and how to respond to pushed down practices.