I'm generally a positive person, even more so when I put on my coaching hat.
Coaches focus on what is working. When things are hovering around a two on a scale of one to ten, a coach might ask, "great, so how did you get to 2?" Something must be going right and if that something can be pulled out to the front and examined, you might just get some clarity on how to get to three, or even six.
So, when I opened the newspaper and saw that 2/3rds of Afghanistan is now in the hands of the Taliban, up from just over a half a year ago, I automatically looked for what is working.
And I found it. Two maps in the newspaper, one from 2007 and the other from 2008, showed the strength of the Taliban (strong, medium, low) by color codes. Two regions, or parts of regions, stood out. One is hardly in Afghanistan at all, a sliver of high mountain peaks sticking out to the northeast, with Tajikistan to the north and Pakistan to the south and a 76km border with China to the east. The other area is a small region called Jowzjan that borders Turkmenistan and is covered with low level lands.
What do these two very different areas have in common? In 2007 they had a medium level of Taliban presence and in 2008 they have a low level. They are the only two areas in which this happened. The others either stayed the same or increased their level of Taliban presence.
I wonder if these two areas couldn't teach us something about what works in keeping the Taliban at bay? Just a coaching perspective.