Exploring SALT visits and SALT behaviours....part 2

With SALT, we 'appreciate strengths'. Why do we appreciate STRENGTHS? Why don't we appreciate individuals for all of their traits, weak or strong? Are we failing to appreciate the full glory of our humanity by focusing on strengths?
A story.
When my children were growing up in England, I was one of the coaches in the local football team. Each year, for each year-group we selected the best players to make up 2 teams and that was it. Those best players became the players in the team. The rest fell by the wayside. That sounds like appreciating strengths.
Some years before I had been living in the United States and I became a coach in the local football team. But it was different. At the start of the year, we recruited as widely as possible and we had lots and lots of boys and girls who wanted to play football. And we made up as many teams as needed so that everyone could play. Then we went to a big meeting and made up as many leagues as we needed to let everyone play. Strengths were not an issue to become a member of our football club.
One year in the United States, I coached one of the good teams and that was similar to coaching in England. There were lots of strengths to appreciate. But the next year, I coached one of the lowest ability teams. In terms of football, there weren't many strengths to appreciate. But I did learn to rejoice and to appreciate the entire human being rather than the footballer. One week we only lost 6-0 and there was tremendous joy in our achievement.
At the end of the season, one of the parents gave me a book called 'Flow' by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I recommend it. If you want the story of the book in one line, it is 'If something is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.....just as long as you do it was well as you possibly can.' The book is an appreciation of commitment....to both weaknesses and strengths.
So why do we appreciate STRENGTHS?
Or perhaps another way to ask the same question is 'What is a strength?'

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Comment by Jean-Louis Lamboray on March 28, 2010 at 5:05pm
Dear Phil,

Why were you happy when your team only lost 6-0? Was it not because you were celebrating the team strengths, - their ability to grow, to adapt, to care for each other? At the same time, wasn’t your celebration intimately linked to the team's relative lack of skills at playing football?
For me, the A of SALT does not stand for Analysis. Analysis means separation, from the Greek luo. If in a SALT visit we use our analytic mind to isolate strengths, we keep behaving as experts. We just shift from analyzing weaknesses to analyzing strengths. When we have done this during SALT visits, it felt condescending. It didn't sound right.
Instead of analyzing strengths, let us connect with a naïve mind. No preconceived idea, no structure, no plan. At the end of the visit, if we have learned anything, let us state how our visit has transformed us personally and how we will adapt what we learned in our contexts. Then, strengths will emerge naturally, and the evocation of those strengths will be stimulating for both “sides”.
To take Myrna's analogy, "let us dance in the rain with both our strengths and weaknesses". And let us all dance together.
Comment by Myrna A. Maglahus on March 24, 2010 at 7:16pm
Hello Phil,

I would like to share with you a story. One night, I was having coffee with my sensei. And we were talking about the weather. And he wondered why many people like the sunshine. why many people associate sunshine with happiness or wonderful things. When in fact, rain is also important so the rice can grow, so we can have food on our table, so we can be healthy. And I totally agreed with him. I like the rain. I like the sound it makes on my umbrella. And when the rain is strong enough, we go outside to take our bathe. We dance and jump in the rain. So it is good. Just as good as the sunshine.

So, maybe consciously we focus on strenths. but we don't really neglect the weakness. It is there at the back of our heads, to remind us what strength is, so we can celebrate it more.

It is not logical for me, for instance, to look at a person and say that I appreciate him/her because she is respectful to her parents. It's like I'm dismissing the other sides of her because all I see is "she's respectful to her parents". It's like saying, "I appreciate you, but on a condition". Isn't it when someone appreciates, she appreciates. Period. Flaws and all.

Thank you Phil. I'm not very active on ning, (or in the internet for that matter) because sometimes I have difficutly (or sometimes just lazy) to express myself in english words. But you made me write something. Thank you.

Just so you know, I am from the Philippines, and we have plenty of rain. And yes, we dance in the rain.
Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on March 21, 2010 at 11:11pm
Dear Phil,

Results are tied to attitude. Appreciating a community or individuals strengths makes them feel valued. Realizing that that they are the ones who could make positive change, they go ahead and make a difference.

I met a young mum whose little daughter is autistic (she is cute as a button). She is in kindergarten and has good handwriting. The class teacher encouraged her and today the little girl has the most beautiful handwriting in her class. The proud mother shared with me, " the teacher makes my daughter sit with other kids who don't write as well. She is like a little peer educator!"


Comment by wiwin winarni on March 21, 2010 at 9:28pm
Dear Phil;

First of all thanks to Laurence who invited me to share my thought. Yesterday I shared SALT approach to 14 members of eight llocal NGOs under provincial aids commission. They were IDUs, gays, outreach workers, PLWHA and case managers. From them I learned that strengths is human basic instinct. This also God's hand to equip us living our life. This is naturally IN us as human, but still this need to be provoked so this become power to make changes.

I believe and witnessing my self by structured questions and systematic activities ; strengths could come up from every one. Strengths is climax of illumination of knowledge that need to be learned whilst doing and living our life. One again SALT enabling me explore it by series of structured questions as result of systematic way of thinking and working.

why do we appreciate strengths? because I learn and believe strengths is life itself. so when we appreciate strengths this actually appreciating life. Appreciating God indeed.

warm regards

Comment by rebeka sultana on March 19, 2010 at 9:26pm
HI Phil,

Very interesting topic.
I look up a thesaurus to see the meanings of strengths and it is power, force, might. And then I look for the meaning of 'weakness" it is flaw, fault, limitation,difficulty. Why do we look for strengths or appriciate strengths? I think we want to manifest the best in oneself through our conscious efforts. I think strengths is the potentials already bloomed and budding in one and our appreciations are like meditations to iluminate the potential to its highests possible degree.

By appreciating the strengths we recognize them, some times the person who has the strenth might not be aware of her/his this particular strength, then we appreciate for continuation of this positive flow ( strengths) and further building on it..............

so we keep on appreciating strengths. In other term it is the spirit, the eternal flow of oneself. Thats what came in my mind.



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