The Art of Strengths Coaching

G is for Generosity Being The Stimulation For Doing Good Work

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There are many motivations for doing good work. A person may be motivated by pursuing a cause, following their vocation or achieving a specific goal.

Some people are inspired by a sense of generosity. They want to help other people to live healthy and happy lives. Different people choose different ways to express generosity in their work.

A person may show kindness by working as a nurse, doctor or other caring professional. They may do practical things to provide people with the basic materials for life – such as food, water or housing. They may pass on wisdom that enables people to shape their future lives.

Looking back on your life, can you think of a situation when you were stimulated by generosity to do good work? You may have helped a person overcome a setback, created an environment in which people could grow or helped people in other ways.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe a time when you were stimulated by generosity to do good work. It then invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things that may stimulate you to do good work in the situation,

Describe the specific things you can do to do good work.

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

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Here are some people who have expressed generosity in action. You will, of course, find your own way of taking such steps.

Generosity In Action: Dr. V’s work
on giving people the gift of sight

Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy was known as Dr. V. His work led to millions of people being helped to enjoy the gift of sight.

The author Pavithra Mehta was related to Dr. V. She says his approach was both practical and profound. He believed that by healing others we were also healing ourselves. He described his philosophy as:

To give sight to all and to see all as one.

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Below is a film about his work called Infinite Vision. This was written and directed by Pavithra Krishnan, whilst the cinematography and editing was done by Ayla Gustafson.

Here is the official introduction to the film. You can discover more about Dr V’s legacy via the following link.

http://www.aravind.org/

An eye clinic with 11 beds. A country with 12 million blind and one doctor dedicated to a beautiful dream.

Infinite Vision is the story of Dr. V, the legendary eye surgeon from South India who made it his mission to restore sight to the blind and whose work has resulted in one of the world’s most extraordinary models of service delivery.

This film traces the inspiring life journey of a visionary dedicated to serving humanity, outlines the evolution of the Aravind model of eye care and affords glimpses into the spirituality that has guided both for over fifty years in service for sight. 

Generosity In Action: Rodrigo Arboleda’s
work on providing one laptop per child

Rodrigo is Chairman and CEO of the One Laptop Per Child Association. The organisation has so far distributed more than 2.7 million laptops. These have gone to children in 41 countries and in 21 languages, including many indigenous languages.

Here is some background from the organisation’s website. You can discover more about its superb work at:

http://one.laptop.org/

 Mission

OLPC’s mission is to empower the world’s poorest children through education.

We aim to provide each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop.

To this end, we have designed hardware, content and software for collaborative, joyful, and self-empowered learning.

With access to this type of tool, children are engaged in their own education, and learn, share, and create together.

They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future.

Learning is the basis for full human, social,
economic and democratic development

As the pace of change in the world increases dramatically, the urgency to prepare all children to be full citizens of the emerging world also increases dramatically.

No one can predict the world our children will inherit. The best preparation for children is to develop the passion for learning and the ability to learn how to learn.

The root cause of the rapid change, digital technology, also provides a solution. When every child has a connected laptop, they have in their hands the key to full development and participation.

Generosity In Action: Ellen MacArthur’s work on creating
a circular economy
for both present and future generations

Ellen became famous for her round-the-world yacht voyages. Whilst on the yacht she became increasingly aware of environmental challenges. This led to her exploring how human beings could live with just the resources available and cut out waste.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation now focuses on practical ways we can apply the Circular Economy. This is a gift we can give to future generations. Here is a more detailed introduction from the Foundation’s web site.

https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation works with education and business to accelerate the transition to a Circular Economy.

The circular economy is a generic term for an industrial economy that is, by design or intention, restorative and in which materials flows are of two types, biological nutrients, designed to re-enter the biosphere safely, and technical nutrients, which are designed to circulate at high quality without entering the biosphere.

A circular economy seeks to rebuild capital, whether this is financial, manufactured, human, social or natural.

This ensures enhanced flows of goods and services. The system diagram illustrates the continuous flow of technical and biological materials through the ‘value circle’.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation when a feeling of generosity may stimulate you to do good work?

You may want to help a person in a particular situation, create an environment in which people can grow, pass on knowledge that can help future generations or whatever.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe a situation when generosity may stimulate you to do good work. It then invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things that may stimulate you to do good work in the situation.

Describe the specific things you can do to do good work.

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

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    S is for Using Your Strengths To Serve Other People And Help Them Succeed  

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    There are many ways to encourage both present and future generations. One approach is to use your strengths to serve other people and help them to achieve success.

    Different people use their talents in different ways. A person may be good at showing kindness, teaching specific skills, building pioneering companies or doing other activities.

    Jill Bolte Taylor is somebody who has specific strengths that she uses to help other people. Here is an excerpt from the introduction to her well-known TED talk.

    Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke.

    As it happened – as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding – she studied and remembered every moment. 

    This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.

    Jill went on to use her experience to help others. She published her book My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey.

    She also created several websites that help people to understand their brains and develop a sense of calm. You can discover more about her work via the following links.

    http://drjilltaylor.com/about.html

    http://mystrokeofinsight.com/

    If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you write the name of a person who you believe used their strengths to help others people. It then invites you to do the following things. 

    Describe the specific things the person did to take these steps.

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

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    Strengths

    Neil Hawkes is a gifted educator. In addition to being a head teacher, he has spent much of his life exploring the values that are admired in cultures around the world.

    He has found that these include values such as respect, compassion, responsibility, justice, happiness and honesty. He believes that these can provide the foundation for building a sustainable world.

    Neil has built on his strengths as an educator to help children, parents and teachers to build values-based schools. This approach has produced positive results in terms of children’s calmness, caring and academic results. Here is a video in which Neil explains the approach.

    So what is values-based education? Here is some more background from the web site.

    http://www.valuesbasededucation.com/

    What Values Are

    Values are principles that drive behaviour. They influence our actions and attitudes, and become our framework for living. They influence our relationship with ourselves and others.

    The wide range of positive human values encouraged in schools include patience, respect, fairness, tolerance, respect, compassion and collaboration.

    Like riding a bike, values are learned through a combination of practice and instruction. Students learn what values are, how to recognise them, and how people react to them, equipping them with invaluable social skills and emotional intelligence. 

    What Values Are Not

    Values education is not additional curriculum. It is not something teachers have to bolt on to an already full agenda. It is an approach that makes teaching the very full agenda easier.

    It is not a quick fix solution. Many people perceive values to be liberal and soft. In reality, they are exactly the opposite. They provide a clear awareness of acceptable behaviour, against which staff and students choices of behaviour are evaluated. Values help reduce the options for inappropriate behaviour.

    It is not something expected only of students. Effective teaching of values is measured not by students’ ability to define values, by its impact on their behaviour. For teaching of values to be effective, positive values need to be modelled by staff. A values-driven environment applies equally to staff and students alike.

    Neil has used is gifts to create inspiring environments in which people can grow. What are your strengths? You may be good at encouraging people, passing on certain skills, coaching sports, solving technical problems or whatever.

    There are many ways to clarify your strengths. Here are some of the questions it can be useful to explore.

    What are the deeply satisfying activities in which I deliver As rather than Bs or Cs? When do I feel in my element – at ease and yet able to excel? What are the activities that give me positive energy – even when I just think about them?

    What are the situations in which I quickly see patterns? What are the activities in which I see the destination quickly? When do I go ‘A, B … and then leap to … Z’? What are the activities I feel passionately about in which I can also deliver peak performance? 

    What are the activities in which I can make complicated things look simple? What are the situations in which I am calm, clear and deliver concrete results? What are the activities in which I enjoy the journey as much as reaching the goal?

    What are the activities in which I have natural self discipline? What are the activities in which I score highly on drive, detail and delivery? What are the activities in which I always do the basics and then add the brilliance?

    If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to clarify your strengths.

    If you have difficulty, try starting each sentence with “I can …” Then give an example of when you have translated that strength into action.

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    Service

    People often gain strength from finding something to serve. Rabindranath Tagore summed up this approach when he wrote:

    I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.

    Robert Greenleaf underlined this message in his book Servant Leadership. Below is an excerpt from the Greenleaf Organization website. You can discover more via the following link.

    https://www.greenleaf.org/what-is-servant-leadership/

    The servant-leader is servant first … It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. 

    That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions … 

    The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

    The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served.

    Such leaders often see themselves as serving something greater than themselves. This could be a purpose, mission or other kind of cause. Some see themselves as serving the vocation they aim to follow.

    They may want to serve the cause of civil rights, freedom, justice, building a better future or whatever. They often aim to build a more caring society.

    Many people want to give to others. They often start out by giving to everybody. At some point, however, they may realise there are certain kinds of people with whom they work best.

    This happened for me in my own work. During the 1960s I got the chance to work in therapeutic communities for young people. I wanted to encourage and enable people to achieve their picture of success.

    After awhile, however, I found that is approach worked best with people who were prepared to be positive and take responsibility for shaping their futures. This rule has held true in the work I have done since with people in education, sports, business and other fields.

    Imagine you want to use your strengths to help other people. Certainly you may want to employ these to help everybody, but there may also be certain kinds of people with whom you best. Bearing this in mind, try answering the following questions.

    Who are the kinds of people you want to help with whom you work best? What are the characteristics of these people? What is it that makes it satisfying to work with these people?

    Different people give different answers to these questions. Here are some that they have given.

    The kinds of people I want to help
    with whom I work best are those:

    Who have a positive attitude … Who are experiencing a trauma … Who want to recover from an addiction … Who are prepared to put in the hours required to learn a particular skill … Who want to do satisfying work … Who have the heart of a humanist and the savvy of a business person.

    Who want to build positive environments in which people grow … Who want to achieve their personal best in sports … Who want to build pioneering businesses … Who are decision makers in organisations … Who are committed to constant improvement … Who want to build a better world.

    If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Bearing in mind your strengths, describe the kinds of people you would like to help with whom you work best.

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    Success

    How can you use your talents to help people to reach their goals? Different people obviously have different pictures of success.

    Some may aim to be healthy, happy and find a sense of peace. Some may aim to do satisfying work, pass on knowledge and leave a positive legacy. Some may aim to achieve other personal or professional goals.

    Different people choose different ways to use their strengths to help other people. Let’s consider some examples.

    Michael Unger, for example, has spent much of his life helping children, parents and teachers to learn about resilience. In the video below he describes factors that have been shown to predict resilience across cultures and contexts.

    He is the author of a regular blog in Psychology Today. This is called Nurturing Resilience: Raising children to be competent and caring. You can discover more via the following link.

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/nurturing-resilience

    Kathleen Taylor has spent more than 20 years working as a counsellor in hospices. When asked about her work, she says she loves her job.

    Why? She enables people to tackle this final chapter. At the same time, she learns from them about what does and does not matter in life.

    When facing death, a person is able to be who they really are. They become courageous and honest. They find joy in the smallest moments.

    They are authentic and able to be their true self. 

    They talk about things they have never expressed before.

    They look back on and make sense of the body of work in their life.

    Kathleen says that, whilst there are many stages in our lives, three stand out.

    When we are young we are fearless and set our course.

    When we are in mid-life we question and maybe readjust our course. 

    When we are at the end of our life we find answers about our course.

    Kathleen says that we can take a hint from people who are living their last days. She says:

    I would like to hope it is never too soon to learn these lessons.

    Maybe we can take some of these steps earlier in our lives. We can be who we truly are and express our uniqueness.

    Here is a TEDx talk in which she talks about her work. You can discover more via her website.

    http://www.kathleen-taylor.com/

    The Elders are an independent group of global leaders working together for peace and human rights. Here is an excerpt from their website. You can discover more via the following link.

    http://www.theelders.org/about

    The Elders represent an independent voice, not bound by the interests of any nation, government or institution. 

    We are committed to promoting the shared interests of humanity, and the universal human rights we all share.

    We believe that in any conflict, it is important to listen to everyone – no matter how unpalatable or unpopular this may be.

    We aim to act boldly, speaking difficult truths and tackling taboos. 

    We don’t claim to have all the answers, and stress that every individual can make a difference and create positive change in their society. 

    You will have your own approach to helping people. If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

    Describe the specific things you can do to use your strengths to serve people and help them to achieve their picture of success.

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

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      L is Learning From Great Leaders

      How can you develop your leadership skills? One approach is to attend courses and read many books on leadership.

      Another approach is to watch and interview great leaders. It is to ask them specific Read more

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        W is for People Developing By Having Warm Hearts, Wise Heads and Working Hands    

        There are many models for developing as a person. One approach is to develop a warm heart, wise head and working hands. Let’s explore this approach.

        People who have warm hearts often have a Read more

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          M is for Doing Something That Matters

          There are many ways to do something that matters. Here are two approaches.

          You can do things that you believe matter. You may aim to encourage a person, show kindness, pass on knowledge, coach Read more

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            C is for Concentrating On Your Core Values  

            Can you recall a situation when you concentrated on your core values to do creative work or tackle a challenge? This could have been in your personal or professional life.

            You may have been Read more

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              S is for Balancing Stability and Stimulation

              People can develop by getting the right balance between stability and stimulation. The same rule holds true for systems such as teams, organisations or societies.

              People enjoy having a sense of security and following Read more

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                F is for Finding Out About A Person By Asking Follow Up Questions  

                Imagine you are going to have a conversation with somebody or you are interviewing them for a role.

                The first thing you say or the question you ask will set the tone for Read more

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                  C is for Being Confident Your Team Has The Clarity And Competence To Deliver The Concrete Results

                  Can you recall a time when you felt confident about a team you led? You may have been leading a team in education, medicine, sports, business or another field.

                  What made you confident that Read more

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                    S is for Focusing On Security, Strengths And Success

                    There are many models for helping people to grow. One approach is based on how people live and work well together. It is to focus on security, strengths and success.

                    The model can be Read more

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