The Art of Strengths Coaching

R is for Balancing Relentlessness, Relaxation And Results  

There are many ways to do fine work. One approach is to get the right balance between relentlessness and relaxation on the ways towards achieving the desired results.

Great workers start by clarifying the real results they want to achieve. They bear in mind what they can and can’t control in the situation, however, when clarifying these results.

They often aim to do their personal or professional best. Sometimes this will result in achieving peak performance. Sometimes it will also result in achieving certain prizes.

Such workers sometimes see the destination quickly. They go A, B … and then leap to … Z. They see, feel and experience what it will be like to reach the goal.

Sometimes this process takes longer. They may have a flash of intuition, but then they gather more information. They test the idea and let it incubate. Then, when they are ready, they clarify the picture of success.

Great workers clarify the strategy they want to follow to do their best to reach the goal. They then pursue this relentlessly. They keep doing the right things in the right way every day.

When appropriate, they also relax. Sometimes this means resting and revitalising themselves. Sometimes it means relaxing when actually performing. They are then more able to flow, focus and finish.

Looking back, can you think of a situation when you balanced being relentless and relaxed on the way towards achieving a goal? You may have done this when renovating a house, doing a creative project, playing a sport, working to find your ideal job or whatever.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation when you balanced relentlessness and relaxation on the way towards achieving the desired results.

Describe the specific things you did to balance relentlessness and relaxation.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result.

 

Imagine that you want to follow similar principles in the future. You have already clarified the picture of success. Let’s explore how you can work towards achieving the desired results.

Relentlessness

Great workers follow their chosen rhythm. This is often based on their successful style of working. They then follow this rhythm relentlessly to deliver the required results.

Sometimes they follow their strategy at full speed, whilst sometimes they may vary the pace. They may also build in times to relax, re-centre and refresh themselves on the journey. They then pick up the rhythm again to tackle their chosen task.

Peak performers have natural discipline in the areas where they are brilliant. They organise things to, as far as possible, create predictability. This gives them freedom to respond when the unexpected happens.

Such workers have elements of OCD. By this I mean Obsessive Compulsive Discipline rather than Disorder. They tend to be obsessively disciplined in the activities where they excel. Such people know how to use this obsession, however, rather than be used by it.

Imagine you have clarified your picture of success. Here are some questions it can be useful to explore. 

How can you follow your chosen rhythm to work towards achieving your goals?  

How can you, when appropriate, build in time to rest, re-centre and refresh yourself on the journey?

How can you then pick up your rhythm again and, in your own way, pursue this relentlessly?

Relaxation

Great workers know how to relax. As mentioned earlier, this sometimes means resting. On other occasions, however, it means relaxing when actually performing. They are then more able to flow, focus and finish.

Such workers develop an inner discipline that ensures they consistently perform superb work. They then move into another zone to deliver peak performances.

Many athletes, for example, relax before going into the arena. They aim to be calm, controlled and centred. Clicking into gear, they are then totally present and give their best to achieve the goals.

Great workers often separate the phases of being relentless and relaxed. Sometimes, however, they are able to combine both elements at once and go into a state of relaxed relentlessness. They then experience a sense of flow on the way towards reaching a goal.

What happens if things go awry? They then go back to basics and keep doing the right things in the right way. They keep doing these things until they feel ready to take the next step towards delivering the brilliance.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation in which you want to balance relentlessness and relaxation on the way towards achieving a goal?

You may want to follow this path when doing a creative project, performing in a sport or doing satisfying work. You may want to do it when building a business, leading a team or pursuing a dream.

Looking ahead, how can you clarify the real results you want to achieve? How can you settle on your chosen rhythm? How can you keep doing the right things in the right way every day? How can you then, when appropriate, relax to deliver the goods?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to balance relentlessness and relaxation on the way towards achieving the desired results.

Describe the specific things you can do to balance relentlessness and relaxation.

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result.

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    C is for Balancing Clear Thinking Time, Creative Time and Cruise Control Time    

    There are many ways to manage your energy when doing fine work. One approach is to get the right balance between three kinds of time. These are clear thinking time, creative time and cruise control time. Let’s explore these ways of working.

    Clear Thinking Time

    When do you create clear thinking time? How do you get oxygen into your brain? How do you then use your imagination? Different people follow this path in different ways.

    They may aim:

    To get enough sleep … To compose themselves at the start of the day … To look ahead to the decisions and actions they need to take during the day … To organise their time in blocks so they can give full attention to what they are doing

    To have breaks so they can re-gather their energy … To build in time to reflect … To go for a walk, run or have another kind of break … To sometimes just let their mind wander and explore ideas … To then refocus and rehearse their next thing they are going to do.

    To buy time when making key decisions … To do their due diligence when making such decisions … To clarify the real results they want to achieve … To explore the possible choices and consequences … To make their decision and translate this into a clear action plan.

    Good leaders, for example, try to stay calm and buy time when making decisions. Kevin Cashman highlighted this approach in his book The Pause Principle.

    Below is an excerpt from Kevin’s website and a video of him talking about this approach. You can discover more via the following link.

    http://cashmanleadership.com/the-pause-principle-book/

    We live and lead in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world. But paradoxically, Kevin Cashman contends that leaders today must not merely act more quickly but pause more deeply.

    Rather than merely doing more, we must learn to pause and to do things differently in order to grow, achieve and innovate. All of these practices lead to purposeful change, and contribution, an essential part of a leader’s everyday life. 

    Different people use different models for making decisions during their clear thinking time. One approach is to use the 3C model for creative problem solving. This involves them focusing on clarity, creativity and concrete results by exploring the following questions.

    Clarity

    What is actually happening in the situation? What are the things I can and can’t control? What are my goals in the situation? What are the real results I want to achieve? What is the picture of success?

    Creativity

    What are the possible choices for going forwards? What are the consequence – the pluses and minuses – of each option? On a scale 0-10, what is the attractiveness of each option? Are there any other potential options? 

    Concrete Results 

    What is the option – or combination of options – that I want to follow? How can I translate this into a clear action plan? How can I build on the pluses and minimise the minuses of pursuing this option?

    Looking at your own life, how can you create times for clear thinking? How can you make good use of these times? What will be the benefits?

    If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe how you can create opportunities for clear thinking times in your life and work.

    Creative Time 

    When do you feel most creative? Are there any particular times of the day, for example, that are your prime times? These are the times of the day when you have most energy. How can you protect and make good use of these times?

    Energy is life. Sometimes we have lots of energy, sometimes we feel drained. Sometimes we need to rest and recover in order to become revitalised. Are you at your best in the morning, the afternoon, the evening or a combination of these times?

    Rollo May, the psychologist, believed people could become more effective by identifying and making good use of such times. It is important to catch the wave, otherwise it is gone forever. Writing in the first edition of The Ageless Spirit, he explained his own schedule for a day.

    I stay in my studio each day for four hours, but the last hour and a half isn’t worth very much. 

    It was hard for me to accept, but what can I do? All I can do is make the most of the creative time I’ve got. 

    So for two and a half hours I’m moving marvellously; the rest of the time I’m simply fiddling around. 

    But I find joy in fiddling too. I have to accept the fact that I’m not a God. I have to accept my destiny. 

    I have to accept the fact that I can only do creative work for a few hours a day, but that does not diminish one iota the joy I get from those two hours.

    How can you make the best use of your creative times? People who are introverts, for example, face particular challenges in open plan offices. They often do their best work when they can cut out distractions and concentrate on the job in hand.

    How to make this happen? One person I worked with did the exercise called My Perfect Professional Day. Starting by focusing on their prime times, they then sketched out how things would look on such a day.

    They set aside times of the day for focusing on their creative work, helping certain customers and doing the necessary chores. They explained their approach in the following way.

    I began by identifying my peaks and troughs during the day. My best time is between 8.00 and 11.30 in the morning.

    I dip around that time, but then pick up again from 14.00 onwards. Previously I used to berate myself for having low energy during the downtimes. But then I learned to follow these natural rhythms.

    I am now protective of those prime times, but I did face a dilemma. My desk is located in an open plan office and it is difficult to concentrate with so many interruptions.

    So now I get into the office at 7.30 am and leave a note about my whereabouts in case of emergency. Then I spend the couple of hours by myself doing creative work in a relatively secluded part of the building where I can concentrate.

    Sometimes I am interrupted by urgent requests, but frequently it is my most productive part of the day.

    Around 9.30 I go for a breath of fresh air and then spend the rest of the morning with my colleagues. I try to meet them in the informal coffee area rather than in a meeting room. That is unless we are going to have a more formal meeting.

    The afternoon is mainly devoted to visiting customers, where I tend to move into a trusted advisor role. It is stimulating to look at the challenges they face and how our company can help them to succeed.

    After finishing with the customers I set aside time to catch up with emails and make sure that everything is in place for the following day. I then go home and spend the evening with my family.

    Different people use different methods for making use of their creative times. Some organise their diary so they can work without interruption. Some who enjoy meeting customers set up visits for these times when they have most energy.

    You will, of course, have your own approach to capitalising on these times. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the specific things you can do to safeguard and make good use of your creative times.

    Cruise Control Time 

    When do you feel in cruise control? When do you do things almost automatically but are able to do the required work?

    Cruise control can be useful, because sometimes you have to conserve your energy. At the same time, it is vital to respect the task in hand and deliver the required professional standards.

    Peak performers often follow a daily rhythm that has elements of cruise control. They follow certain rituals that enable them to click into action and follow good habits.

    Some professions involve following a daily rhythm but also paying full attention at critical moments. Nurses and doctors need to show compassion towards patients, for example, even when following a daily routine.

    Looking at your own life, what are the times of the day that you go into cruise control? What are the kinds of jobs that you do during this time? You may do routine work, administration or other necessary chores.

    Are there certain rituals you follow to get yourself into the mood to do such work? You may lock yourself away, go through lists and get a kick from crossing off each item. If appropriate, you may drink coffee, play music or do other things to encourage yourself when doing the tasks.

    Imagine that you get interrupted. How do you switch into being fully concentrated? If appropriate, how do you buy time to do some clear thinking? How do you then do everything possible to reach your chosen goals?

    Great workers try to balance their clear thinking times, creative times and cruise control times. Making this happen can enable them to make good decisions. They then aim to do good work and achieve their picture of success.

    If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on these themes. This invites you to describe the specific things you can do to make good use of your cruise control times.

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      P Is for People Who Adopt The Psychology Of Being The Pursuer rather than The Pursued

      People often show hunger when they are pursuing a prize for the first time. Something can happen to their energy, however, if they win the prize and have to defend it. They sometimes Read more

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        I is for Improving By Tackling Inspiring Challenges Or Intimidating Challenges

        There are many ways to develop. One approach is to improve by tackling inspiring or intimidating challenges.

        Looking back, when have you grown by tackling an uplifting challenge? You may have followed your passion Read more

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          H is for The Hope Giver’s Way

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            S is for The Second Empathy

            Sometimes it can be helpful to show both the first and second empathy. What does this mean?

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              M is for Marvellous Performances  

              There are many models for doing fine work. One approach is to maintain good habits and sometimes add the magic on the way towards producing marvellous performances.

              Good habits form the basis. People who Read more

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                S is for Helping Other People To Shine      

                Most people like to succeed. Some people, however, have an even stronger desire to help others to develop. They get a great kick from enabling people to succeed.

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                  M is for Mood Music

                  There are many ways to describe what people do to influence a culture or environment. They may, for example, speak and behave in ways that set the tone. This creates a certain kind of Read more

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                    W is for Balancing Your Work Time And Wandering Time

                    There are many approaches to doing fine work. One approach is to get the right balance between your work time and wandering time.

                    You may become deeply engaged in your work, for example, Read more

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