The inception of the International Network on Personal Meaning (INPM) was as audacious as the start-up of a new business venture, with nothing more than a dream and passion. In those early days, fearless of obstacles and failures, I forged ahead with all I had and got my hands dirty in many aspects of the fledging organization just to keep the dream alive.
That was back in 1998. Now, after 18 years of struggle, I feel gratified that I have accomplished more than I expected. I am now very pleased to pass on the torch, with the knowledge that INPM is financially in the black and enjoying an international reputation.
Introducing New Board Members
My days as a social entrepreneur are over. We now have a new Board. In our recent two-day Board Retreat on October 27 and 28, as shown in this photo, we had productive strategic planning with long-term implications.
The bios of the new Board members can be found on www.meaning.ca/contact.htm. Their names and portfolios are as follows:
- Luis A. Marrero: Member of the Executive Committee, Editor of Positive Living Newsletter, Deputy Chair of the Board
- Gordon Medlock: Member of the Executive Committee, Editor of the International Journal of Existential Psychology and Psychotherapy, and Chair of the Publication Committee (INPM Press)
- Lilian C. J. Wong: Member of the Executive Committee, Treasurer, and Chair of the Committee on Education, Professional Development, and Certification
- Daniel Jordan: Chair of the Website Committee, Chair of Marketing and Fundraising
- Chieh Hsu: Chair of the Membership Committee, Taiwanese Member Representative
- Ryan Marcoux: Co-Chair of the Membership Committee, Graduate Student Representative
*Brent Potter has withdrawn his candidacy as President-Elect due to personal reasons.
Following a management team model, the new Board will take a more active role in the management of INPM. In taking up the fresh opportunities and challenges ahead of us, we still maintain our mission and identity.
Who Are We? Our Origin and Identity
Without attaching ourselves to any existing psychological associations and without the backing of any university, INPM should have been aborted long time ago. Yet, with a deep conviction in the worthiness of our mission and the correctness of our path, we have steadfastly stayed our course.
From the very beginning, I instinctively knew that the concept of meaningfulness was a uniquely human phenomenon so complex and so profound that no school of psychology had a corner on the truth. Although INPM was rooted in Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy, I still believed that we need to integrate the positive psychology of meaning research as well as insights from other branches of psychology as shown in Figure 1.
In short, we have always seen ourselves as a central hub, serving several allied associations and, at the same time, playing the critical role of analyzing and synthetizing knowledge from all sources of research. Such integrative knowledge of meaning has been INPM’s main contribution and needs to be more clearly articulated and widely distributed through publications.
Hopefully, we will also serve as a big tent, welcoming individuals from other associations to join us in our never-ending task of creative synthesis, if they share our mission of advancing the role of meaning in healing and well-being in an integrative and interdisciplinary way.
Not surprisingly, our path has not been a popular one. Even though people can recognize the importance of integrative knowledge, most psychologists prefer to belong to an established school or “tribe” for their professional identify.
Aware of the problem of “tribalism,” the new Board will actively seek closer partnership with allied associations, as our integrative “brand” has become more attractive to both researchers and practitioners.
What We Have Accomplished
On a shoestring budget, we have already successfully organized eight Biennial International Meaning Conferences (see Table 1). We have also established a good reputation of being the only international congress totally devoted to meaning-oriented research and practices.
Through our conferences and publications, we have developed integrative meaning-oriented counselling and therapy, which has gained increasing attention. We now dominate the first page of Google’s search engine in many key terms from existential positive psychology and logotherapy to integrative meaning therapy.
In addition, we have played a leadership role in integrative second wave positive psychology (PP2.0) (Wong, 2011; Ivtzan, Lomas, Hefferon, & Worth, 2016; also see lecture by Wong, 2015). Table 2 shows brief comparison between PP1.0 and PP2.
Since the first International Meaning Conference, we have been organizing meaning summits to promote the integration between existential psychology and positive psychology by inviting leaders from both camps to dialogue. See my recent report on our meaning summits. Such efforts have attracted more following and morphed into the PP2.0 movement. The scope of the impact of this movement can be seen in my two recent papers on positive organization and existential positive interventions as well as a number of blog publications (e.g., Bucks New University, IPEN).
What Lies Ahead Under the New Management
We are most grateful to have Luis Marrero for his energy and experience in organizing our regular Board meetings and helping to prioritize the INPM strategic action plan in the next two years. An important part of this strategic plan is to increase membership engagement and create several revenue streams so that INPM will be financially viable in the forthcoming years. More news about this progress will be reported in future newsletter.
At present, we are moving forwards in three major ways: (1) Working on a major overhaul of www.meaning.ca so that it will be more searchable, navigable, and interactive, (2) Developing certificate courses on working with meaning in life issues for all professionals, and (3) Developing a Second Wave Positive Psychology (PP2.0) summit meeting to chart this new terrain and explore action plans. Readers, please see the announcement on Meaning Conference 2016 regarding the PP2.0 Summit.
I want to conclude this report with an invitation to all our readers to renew your membership and thus become part of the action.