Finally, and most importantly, appreciation is engaged, and an appreciative culture is forged, by establishing a positive image of the future within a society. We grow to appreciate and invest in our society and its inhabitants by imbuing it with optimism. We invest it with a sense of hope about its own future and the valuable role potentially it plays in our society. “[A]ffirmation of the positive future is the single most important act that a system can engage in if its real aim is to bring to fruition a new and better future.” (Cooperrider, 1990, p. 119)
Effective, generative leaders, therefore, must be “not only concerned with what is but also with what might be.” (Frost and Egri, 1990, p. 305) As McAdams and his associates (McAdams, Hart and Maruna, 1998, p. 26) have noted: “To believe in the (human) species is to place hope and trust in the future of the human enterprise. Generativity requires a fundamental faith in humankind and hope for the future.” We come to appreciate our own role and that of other people in the organization regarding the contributions we make jointly in helping the organization to realize these images, purposes and values. An appreciative perspective is always leaning into the future. While we appreciate that which has been successful in the past (Generativity Three), we don’t dwell with nostalgia on the past, but instead continually trace the implications of acquired wisdom and past successes regarding our vision of the future (the bridge between Generativity Three and Four).
As we noted previously, a society without hope is a society in which children are ignored and personal survival replaces any concern for other people or community enrichment. We honor nothing, because there is no future to honor us. We do not seek to extend ourselves beyond our own lives, because there is nothing worth extending ourselves into when envisioning the future. It is only when we have a clear vision of the future that we care deeply about other people and our community. This is the central message of this set of essays– appreciation as well as the spirited and soulful nature of deep caring are critical to generativity at all levels and in all ways of enactment..
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