The Art of Strengths Coaching

C is for People Who Focus On Compassion rather than Only On Cash

Different people have different philosophies of life. Some people focus on compassion. Some people focus only on cash. The things that people focus on often drives their actions.

People who are driven by compassion often talk about helping people. Starting from the heart, they aim to encourage and enable others to live fulfilling lives. They believe that compassion goes beyond sympathy and empathy. Compassion is caring in action.

People who are driven by cash often talk about money. They sometimes say that making big profits is necessary to care for people. Cash is needed, of course, but caring for others sometimes comes way down their list of priorities.

Different people show compassion in different ways. Some show it for their loved ones, friends and kindred spirits. Some show it for those they identify with, such as certain communities. Some show it for all human beings and future generations. Some show compassion for all living things and the planet.

Looking back on your life, can you think of a situation when you chose to focus on compassion rather than only on cash? You may have chosen to show generosity, encourage a person or do something practical to care for people or the planet.

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

Describe a specific situation in the past when you chose to focus on compassion rather than only on cash.

Describe the specific things you did then to focus on compassion.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of taking these steps.

Compassion can produce enormous benefits, both for ourselves and other people. Some people are wary of showing compassion because they feel that others may take advantage of their kindness. We may need to show compassion, however, if we are to survive as a species.

Karen Armstrong explored these themes in her TED talk that led to creating The Charter for Compassion. She believes it is vital to start from the heart and create hope, rather than spread division. Karen and others have underlined the following points.

Compassion is at the root of many religions and spiritual beliefs. So let’s revive the Golden Rule.

Always treat all other people with the respect that you would like them to treat you with. Do not cause pain to others that you would not like inflected on yourself.

Compassion can help to build a global community that helps to achieve the common good.

Below is a video in which Karen describes this approach. The Charter for Compassion includes the following messages. You can discover more on its website.

http://charterforcompassion.org/

We believe a compassionate world is a peaceful world.

We believe a compassionate world is possible when every man, woman and child treats others as they would wish to be treated – with dignity, equity and respect.  

We believe all human beings are born with the capacity for compassion, and it must be cultivated for human beings to survive and thrive. 

The Greater Good Center, based at the University of California, Berkeley, focuses on the science of living a meaningful life. Here are excerpts from part of its website that is devoted to compassion. You can discover more via the following link.

Greater Good

Compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism though the concepts are related.  

While empathy refers more generally to our ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help.

Scientific research into the measurable benefits of compassion is young. Preliminary findings suggest, however, that being compassionate can improve health, wellbeing, and relationships.  

Many scientists believe that compassion may even be vital to the survival of our species, and they’re finding that its advantages can be increased through targeted exercises and practice.

Compassion helps make caring parents: Brain scans show that when people experience compassion, their brains activate in neural systems known to support parental nurturance and other caregiving behaviors. 

Compassion helps make better spouses: Compassionate people are more optimistic and supportive when communicating with others.  

Employees who receive more compassion the workplace see themselves, their co-workers, and their organization in a more positive light, report feeling more positive emotions like joy and contentment, and are more committed to their jobs.

More compassionate societies – those that take care of their most vulnerable members, assist other nations in need, and have children who perform more acts of kindness – are the happier ones. 

Compassionate people are more socially adept, making them less vulnerable to loneliness.

People can choose to be compassionate or cruel in their actions and words. The choice they make has consequences, both for themselves and other people.

People who show compassion often have a history of being loved and being taught to respect other human beings. They believe in spreading happiness rather than hate. They want to plant seeds of hope that will encourage both present and future generations.

Such people are positive realists. They recognise the many challenges that we face as human beings. They believe in finding positive solutions, however, that will benefit both people and the planet.

They are strongly aware of systems theory, though they may call it something else. They may instead say something like: “You reap what you sow.”

Such people believe that what you put into a system – be it a relationship, organisation or planet – will strongly affect the future of that system. They therefore try to act with compassion rather than cruelty.

Jeremy Rifkin outlines a similar approach in his book The Empathic Civilisation. He believes it is vital to recognise that our actions have consequences on the whole system.

This calls for extending our empathy to the entire human family and the biosphere. Taking this step will increase our chances of surviving as a species.

Here is a video in which Jeremy explains this approach. You can discover more via the following link.

http://empathiccivilization.com/

The Together View of Life rather
than The Tribal View of Life

People who are compassionate often take the together view of life rather than the tribal view of life. They see differences as an asset that, channelled properly, can be used to help others.

They believe in focusing on what people have in common – rather than continually looking for conflict – to achieve concrete results.

They believe that people can combine their strengths to tackle the challenges we face across the world.  

They believe that people can work well together to create sustainable systems that create ongoing success for people and the planet.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking to the future, can you think of a situation in which you may want to focus on compassion rather than focus only on cash?

How can you demonstrate caring in action? If appropriate, how can you encourage and enable people to live fulfilling lives? What may be the benefits of taking this approach?

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

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may choose to focus on compassion rather than only on cash.

Describe the specific things you did then to focus on compassion. 

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of taking these steps.

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    A is for Attention, Application And Achievement  

    There are many models for doing fine work. One approach is to focus on attention, application and achievement.

    “Attention is everything,” we are told. “What we focus on, we become.” Everything is food and the things we focus on can affect our personal and professional lives.

    Winifred Gallagher describes this approach in her book Rapt: Attention and The Focused Life. She writes:

    Living the focused life is not about trying to feel happy all the time…rather, it’s about treating your mind as you would a private garden and being as careful as possible about what you introduce and allow to grow there.

    Over time, a commitment to challenging, focused work and leisure produces not only better daily experience, but also a more complex, interesting person: the long-range benefit of the focused life.

    The first step is to pay attention to what you are doing. The second step is to apply yourself in the appropriate way to achieve your goals.

    This can mean different things in different situations. Sometimes it can mean being relentless. Sometimes it can mean relaxing. Frequently it means following the key strategies that will give you the greatest chance of success.

    The third step is to follow good habits. It is to keep doing the right things in the right way. It is to keep doing your best on the way towards achieving your picture of success.

    Looking back on your life, when have you taken these steps in your own way? You may have been following a passion, doing a stimulating project or simply enjoying the moment.

    What did you do right then to pay attention? How did you apply yourself in the appropriate way? What happened as a result of taking these steps?

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

    Describe a specific situation in the past when you chose to pay attention to what you wanted to do, applied yourself in the appropriate way and achieved your aim.

    Describe the specific things you did to go through these steps.

    Describe the specific things that happened as a result of going through these steps.

    Attention

    Looking at your own life, what are the things to which you pay attention? Do you pursue your passions or put these to the back of the queue? Do you focus on finding positive solutions or simply worry about negative problems?

    Do you build on what you can control or worry about what you can’t control? Do you aim to make things happen or hope that things will work out?

    Great workers, for example, pay full attention to the activity they are pursuing, the piece of work they are doing or the person they are trying to help. They are fully engaged in working towards what they are trying to achieve.

    How do people learn to pay attention? For some people the roots go back to their early years. They were encouraged by their parents or teachers to pursue their interests, gather information and see patterns. They developed the skill of learning how to learn.

    They threw themselves into playing music, painting, model making or other activities. Sometimes they went into a state of deep play. Such people went through a process of absorption, adventure and achievement.

    Maria Montessori, the educator, said that children often learn by becoming totally absorbed in an activity. They then enjoy the adventure of learning. Finally they reach the goal and experience a sense of achievement.

    Some people learn that it is okay to follow their passions, develop persistence and get positive results. Later on in life they apply these transferable skills to other activities. They sometimes go on to build on their strengths, do satisfying work and achieve their picture of success.

    People who follow their passion and pay attention sometimes go into a state of flow. They flow, focus, finish and, as a by-product, gain a sense of fulfilment. This can provide the platform for achieving peak performance.

    Looking to the future, can you think of a situation in which you want to be good at paying attention. You may want to do this when enjoying an experience, pursuing an activity or working to reach a specific goal.

    What can you do to pay attention? How can you build in time for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation? How can you then do your best in the situation?

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

    Describe the specific situation in which you want to pay attention. 

    Describe the specific things you can do to pay attention in this situation.

    Application

    Great workers have one thing in common. They are prepared to apply themselves in the appropriate way to achieve their goal. They take the following steps to make sure they are pursuing the most effective strategies.

    They clarify the real results to achieve and translate these into a clear picture of success.

    They clarify the key principles they want to follow to achieve the picture of success. 

    They translate these principles into practise and keep working towards achieving the picture of success.

    Great workers pay attention to following their chosen principles rather than being captivated by the prize. Certainly they start by clarifying the picture of success, but then they focus on doing the right things in the right way every day.

    Bill Walsh, the legendary coach of the San Francisco 49ers, took this approach. He believed it was vital for everybody in an organisation to deliver certain Standards of Performance. This was more important than striving to win.

    He believed that, providing people consistently delivered the Standards of Performance, the score took care of itself. Did it work? Despite not focusing on winning, his team was hailed as a dynasty.

    He took over the team in 1979 and it took two seasons to turn around the ailing team. The 49ers then won the Super Bowl three times – in 1981, 1984 and 1988 – before Bill retired.

    Interviewed for the book The Score Takes Care of Itself, by Steve Jamison and Craig Walsh, Bill said that his aim was to create an environment of excellence.

    He aimed to build a top-notch organisation, rather than one that was toxic. This called for hiring great people and moving on those who chose not to meet the required standards. Bill explained:

    I came to the San Francisco 49ers with an overriding priority and specific goal – to implement what I call the Standard of Performance. 

    It was a way of doing things, a leadership philosophy that has as much to do with core values, principles, and ideals as with blocking, tackling, and passing: more to do with the mental than with the physical.

    While I prized preparation, planning, precision, and poise, I also knew that organizational ethics were crucial to ultimate ongoing success.

    It began with this fundamental leadership assertion: Regardless of your specific job, it is vital to our team that you do that job at the highest possible level in all its various aspects, both mental and physical (i.e., good talent with bad attitude equals bad talent). 

    There are also the basic characteristics of attitude and action – the new organizational ethos – I tried to teach our team, to put into our DNA.

    Of course, for this to happen the person in charge – whether the head coach, CEO, manager, or assembly line foreman – must exhibit the principles. 

    This called for commitment to details. These included people having a positive attitude, being prompt, showing good sportsmanship, treating fans with respect and always exhibiting professional behaviour.

    Bill believed that leaders must develop the right strategy for delivering success. People could then follow the strategy, do superb work and achieve success. He said:

    The motto of the Boy Scouts, ‘Be prepared,’ became my modus operandi, and to be prepared I had to factor in every contingency: good weather, bad weather, and everything in between. I kept asking and answering this question: ‘What do I do if…?’ 

    You must envision the future deeply and in detail – creatively – so that the unforeseeable becomes foreseeable. Then you write the script for the foreseeable … 

    Of course, there’s always something you can’t anticipate, but you strive to greatly reduce the number of those foreseeables.

    Bill followed the 80-20 rule. The 49ers focused on maximising the 80% they could control in a game. There may be 20% they couldn’t control, such as a referee’s call, a bad bounce or fortune.

    The team aimed to prepare and perform properly because this vastly increased the chances of success. People were expected to practice relentlessly until their execution at the highest level was automatic – routine perfection. Bill said:

    Maintenance workers, ticket takers, parking lot attendants, and anyone receiving a pay check with the emblem of the San Francisco 49ers on it were instructed as to the requirements of their own job’s Standard of Performance and expected to measure up.

    The 49ers became known for winning games in the last few minutes. Why? Bill explained to Steve Jamison and Craig Walsh:

    Have you noticed that great players and great companies don’t suddenly start hunching up, grimacing, and trying to ‘hit the ball harder’ at a critical point?

    Rather, they are in a mode, a zone in which they’re performing and depending on their ‘game,’ which they’ve mastered over many months and years of intelligently directed hard work. 

    By focusing strictly on my Standard of Performance, the 49ers were able to play the bigger games very well because it was basically business as usual – no ‘try harder’ mentality was used. 

    In fact, I believed it was counter-productive. Consequently, the San Francisco 49ers could function under tremendous stress and the forces that work on individuals in competitive situations.

    The team dealt with pressure situations by continuing to do the basics. They could then add the brilliance.

    Bill demonstrated a characteristic shown by many great leaders. They actually do what they say they are going to do. He was true to his philosophy and principles. The key was to ensure that people delivered the Standards of Performance. The score would then take care of itself.

    Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking to the future, can you think of a situation in which you want to apply yourself in an appropriate way?

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

    Describe the specific situation in which you want to apply yourself in an appropriate way. 

    Describe the specific things you can do to apply yourself in an appropriate way in the situation.

    Achievement

    Looking to the future, can you think of a situation in which you want to do your best to achieve your chosen aim? You may want to simply enjoy an experience, do a stimulating project or reach a specific goal.

    You will have your own way of pursing your aim, but here are some suggestions. It can be useful to plan ahead and set aside a block of time when you can do your personal best:

    To be positively engaged in the activity.  

    To follow your chosen principles. 

    To work towards achieving the picture of success.

    Whichever approach you use, it will involve paying attention. Bearing this in mind, let’s return to Winifred’s book Rapt. Below are excerpts from the book in which she describes the value of taking this step.

    My interest in attention goes back to childhood, when I ran the usual experiments on its effects on behaviour. I saw that by focusing on one thing, you could ignore another.

    If you concentrated on some enjoyable activity, you could make time simultaneously race and stand still. Staying focused on a goal over time might not guarantee you’d achieve it but was a crucial step in that direction.

    A psychological theory – your life consists of what you focus on – is one thing in your mind or on paper, and is something else again when you test-drive it over rough terrain.

    Today’s world ensures that we are bombarded by sounds, sights and the media pumping out masses of information. We can also be affected by working in open plan offices or listening to people who continually want to talk about problems.

    How to deal with such input? Winifred believes that attention can help us in these situations. She writes:

    By helping you to focus on some things and filter out others attention distills the universe into your universe. 

    Paying rapt attention, whether it is to a trout stream or a novel, a do-it-yourself project or a prayer, increases your capacity for concentration, expands your inner boundaries, and lifts your spirits, but more important, it simply makes you feel that life is worth living.

    Let’s return to the theme of achievement. Looking to the future, can you think of a specific situation in which you may want achieve a particular aim?

    How can you pay attention to achieving the goal? How can you apply yourself in the most appropriate way? How can you do your best to achieve your picture of success?

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

    Describe the specific situation in which you want to do your best to achieve your chosen aim.

    Describe the specific things you can do to do your best to achieve your chosen aim in the situation.

    Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of taking these steps.

     

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      E is for Excellent Teams Getting The Right Balance Of Entrepreneurs, Experts and Eager Beavers    

      There are many models for building fine teams. One approach is to get the right balance of entrepreneurs, experts and eager beavers. This is an approach that I have seen work in pioneering companies.

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        G is for The Guiding Principles Of Gratitude, Giving And Good Work    

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          M is for Mission Holders

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            P is for Prepare As Though You Have Everything To Win; Perform As Though You Have Nothing To Lose  

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              R is for Balancing Relentlessness, Relaxation And Results  

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              Great workers start by clarifying the Read more

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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 Read more

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

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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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