WOW Help Build a Creative Climate [Yes! And. Blog 157]

“A candle loses nothing when it lights another candle.”

Thomas Jefferson. 3rd President of the USA.


Making Your Organisation Better

Julia Kalenberg

How appreciating what others do can change your life and build a creative climate

Hi. Wouldn’t it be great if this year were a WOW year for you? This article could help you achieve that. For only the third time I am going to use another author to write my blog because I thought this article contained a simple and memorable way to improve the creative climate in your life and organisation..

Julia Kalenberg, a Solution Focus practitioner from Switzerland, writes it, though I have made a few small edits. Here is what she says:

Looking at what already works and what is already there instead of looking for what’s missing can change your life and the life of others. If you look at resources instead of problems, you help others grow and create a totally different atmosphere in teams.

When I was at the SOLWorld Conference in Oxford in September 2012, I experienced the wonderful effect of a real and authentic “Wow”. When people appreciate what other people do it creates a positive atmosphere that is ideal for development and growth. Coming back from Oxford I thought about what WOW could stand for and decided it can stand for WHO OR WHAT.

The WOW Formula

  • Who or what really impressed me today?
  • Who or what am I really grateful for today?
  • Who or what would need a nice word today?
  • Who or what will I really be thankful for tonight and why?

Different Levels of WOW

The WOW formula works on different levels personal and interpersonal.

It works for yourself and your relations with others. Think of a person or something that really made you happy today and why it had this effect. Revisit the situation and create an inner smile. Let other people share your inner smile by telling them what you admire about them. Spread compliments, give free compliments and thus create a ripple effect.

If you look at positive behaviour and characteristics that you would like to see more of in other people (e.g. your children), then treat them as if they already were like that or acted like that. Probably you help this person to grow.

J.W. von Goethe once said, “Treat people as they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being“.

It may sound incredible, but this also works for yourself. Let’s call it the “act-as-if-effect”. If you act, for example as if you are more self-confident, it helps you to become more self-confident.

(I see the use of WOW with others as a virtuous circle. As you use it you grow others and as they grow, you grow yourself. JB)

The WOW Effect

WOW is like a magnifying glass, it looks at what is already there, what is already working and thus it enhances positive things, thoughts and behaviour. The effects of letting WOW guide you through life might be:

  • WOW creates positive energy in your body because your smile moves your face muscles and thereby even makes a change in chemical substances of your body. Your own smile already makes YOU feel better
  • WOW creates a smile with a ripple effect. With a little smile on your face you feel better. And you make other people smile because real and authentic smiling is contagious. If you give free compliments too, you go one step beyond and make people even happier. And when they feel o.k. they might even follow your example and give away smiles and free compliments too
  • WOW can raise your level of happiness. The famous American psychologist, Martin Seligman, created the “Three Blessings exercise” which is very effective. I have been doing it for two years now and it really works. Seligman says, “Every evening think of three positive things that you have experienced during the day. Write them down. The next morning, read these three things again and thus create a positive start to the new day.”

Small Action

Maybe you are not used to smiling or giving free compliments (yet) because of your cultural background or your education. Maybe you yourself have received very little free compliments until now. Maybe you feel too shy for that.

There are many good reasons to try this approach. You cannot lose anything. As my friend John Sproson once reminded me, “A candle loses nothing when it lights another candle”. Just try, begin and give it a go. Don’t wait for other people to begin; take the first step. Do it for a while and watch out for possible positive effects.

Who might you use the WOW approach on today?

To Close

Thanks to Julia for her WOW approach. Bringing it back to creative leadership, today, I was reading a synopsis of research on building a creative climate in organisations[1]. One factor that stood out in the context of this article was “Positive interpersonal exchange.”

How good might WOW be at developing that in your team or organisation?


Thanks to Julia for permission to use her work. If you would like to contact her, her details are:

Julia Kalenberg

Training ▪ Consulting ▪ Coaching

Brunnacker 21

CH-3086 Zimmerwald. Switzerland.

Phone/Fax: +41 31 819 35 61


Have a terrific week.


John Brooker I Yes! And. Think Innovatively.

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[1] Hülsheger, U. R., Anderson, N., & Salgado, J. F. (2009). Team-level predictors of innovation at work: A comprehensive meta-analysis spanning three decades of research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 1128–1145.