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O'Connor & Hall

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The Founder's Dream of O'Connor & Hall

My dream started with me digging deep into my inner-self and questioning my vision, the direction of the organization and the decisions that would need to be made in order to make the vision a reality…I decided to move from a reactive state to a more creative state. The decisions I made to lead the organization forced me to leave the normal state and enter the fundamental state of leadership. In other words, I was doing things I knew how to do (normal state, comfort centered) and decided to overcome my fears of failure, fears of the unknown by not allowing my behavior and decisions to be externally directed (Quinn, 2005). By externally directed I mean “...driven by our own perceptions and fears of what we think other people do or will think” (Quinn, 2004, p.24). In addition, to clarify, the fundamental state of leadership is “...a more creative state. In that state we become results centered, internally directed, other-focused, and externally open” (Quinn, 2004, p.25). In fact, one could say “The fundamental state of leadership (FSL) is an alternative psychological condition. Entering the FSL alters awareness, perception, emotions, and behaviors. It also alters relationships and leads to extraordinary patterns of performance” (Quinn, 2004, p.22). I needed the trust and respect of my staff and that would require more than mere words...I had to show my commitment through my actions. So, to prove I was serious about the welfare of the organization and the vision I had shared with my staff…I walked the talk and entered the FSL.

In my dream the employees noticed the transformation I had made into the FSL. Knowing positive emotions equate to human flourishing and increase the number of potential behavioral options important to survival…I dreamed for every negative emotion that drags us down my staff would agree to provide 3 positive emotions to lift us up. I knew I had to be patient because it is better to gently create the attitude (change our mindsets and biochemistry) of kind, be curious, be open, be appreciative, but above all be real (Fredrickson, 2009).

Now that I was transformed (leading by example) and my staff was positively motivated…I dreamed I applied a new approach that involved the four key stages (Discovery, Dream, Design, Destiny) of the Appreciative Inquiry “4-D” Cycle with my staff. Thus, allowing for some story- telling and deep listening. In doing so (applying the four questions), my organization made the connection (the spirit of the whole) with this new approach because the employees participated in the process. Therefore, by putting their voices on the table the employees recommitted themselves to work for a better future and should bring a whole system of positive change for moving our organization towards its highest potential (Barros & Cooperrider, 2000).

I am almost ready to wake up from my dream, because the organization I am leading has been built on trust, openness and the employees have a connection to the organization. However, my dream organization that I lead also develops and grooms its personnel into the future leaders of the organization. Therefore, in my dream I want to “...create environments in which employees are able to make the most of their talents have more productive work units with less employee turnover” (Foster & Lloyd, 2007, p.32). Also, in my dream, I have my employees indoctrinated into understanding the importance of collaboration. Why? Collaboration is important because it (collaboration) plays an important role with innovation. In addition, “Collaborative behavior is a fundamental aspect of close relationships” (Cole & Teboul, 2004, p.135). According to Sloan & Drath (2003) “...relationships are understood as tools that leaders use to link themselves to others and express their leadership” (p.17). In my dream I understand that if there are no followers (others) there are no relationships and if there are no relationships there is no link. Therefore, if there is no link there is no avenue for a leader to express their leadership and thus, the death of an organization. The thought of the death of my organization stirs me, but before I wake up I have one final thought as the leader of this organization. Keep in mind, everyone knows dreams don’t always make sense or can have a weird ending. Anyways, in my dream I keep hearing a voice saying the same thing over and over again. Then, my alarm clock goes off and I am startled having been awaken from my dream. However, I am left remembering that one last thought of my dream and I smile as I drive to work. That one last thought propels me to make my dreams come true. That one last thought is…”What result do I want to create?”


Barros, I.O. & Cooperrider, D.L. (2000). A story of nutrimental in brazil: How wholeness, appreciation, and inquiry bring out the best in human organization. Organization Development Journal, 18, 22-28.

Cole, T. & Teboul, J. C. B. (2004). Non-zero-sum collaboration, reciprocity, and the preference for similarity: Developing an adaptive model of close relational functioning. Personal Relationships, 11(2), 135-160.

Foster, S.L. & Lloyd, P.J. (2007). Positive psychology principles applied to consulting psychology at the individual and group level. Consulting Psychology Journal, 59, 30-40.

Fredrickson, B. (2009). The timeliness of dr. fredrickson's book, “positivity”. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,

Quinn, R.E. (2005). Moments of greatness: Entering the fundamental state of leadership. Harvard Business Review, 83, 74-83.

Quinn, R.E. (2004). Building the bridge as you walk on it. Leader to Leader, 34, 21-26.

Sloane, J., & Drath. W. (2003). How to connect for competitive advantage. Leadership in Action, 23(5), 15–18.

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