The Art of Strengths Coaching

B is for Big Occasions Being An Opportunity To Keep Doing The Basics And Then Add The Brilliance  

How do you approach big occasions? Do you say either of the following?

I love big occasions. They give me the chance to be at my best. I tend to take the emotion out of the situation. I aim to keep doing the basics and then add the brilliance. 

I loath big occasions. They fill me with fear and I find it hard to do my best. I spend a lot of time worrying about the things I can’t control and whether or not I will get the right result.

Different people have different definitions for big occasions. Some define them as the ones that have big implications. The person may be going for a job interview, playing in a vital football match, pitching for a piece of business, singing before a world wide audience or whatever.

Some people take a different approach. They see the simple acts of daily living as big occasions. They aim to do their best to encourage a person, make a beautiful meal or create positive memories for people. These become almost spiritual acts.

Looking back, can you think of a big occasion when you aimed to do the basics and then add the brilliance? What did you do to translate these aims into action? What happened as a result of taking these steps?

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

The Big Occasion

Looking ahead, can you think of a big occasion when you want to do your best? Here are some of the different answers that people may give to that question.

The Big Occasion When
I Want To Do My Best Is:

Caring for people every day in the hospice … Interviewing for a life changing job … Auditioning for a Broadway musical … Defusing unexploded bombs … Mediating between warring parties … Playing in the Ryder Cup … Running in an Olympic Final.

Different people approach big occasions in different ways. The approach they take can have different consequences.

Some may feel passionately about their work, but they are also able to become quite analytical. Bearing in mind the things they can control, they focus on the real results they want to achieve. They then translate these into a clear picture of success.

Some people allow their passion to take over, however, and start worrying about the potential outcomes. They may focus on the things they can’t control or, alternatively, become obsessed by how their life will change if they achieve the prize.

Great workers set stimulating goals. Before doing so, however, they clarify what they can and can’t control in the situation. One Olympic finalist expressed these factors in the following way.

I can control my attitude and professionalism. I can prepare properly, both physically and psychologically. I can aim to be fully present and do my best on the day. 

I can’t control the weather conditions, the other athletes or whether or not I get an injury. I can do my best, however, to manage the things I can’t control.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Bearing in mind the things you can control, this invites you to do the following things. 

Describe the specific big occasion in the future when you want to do your best.

Describe the specific results you want to achieve in the situation.

The Basics

Great workers often feel passionately about the activities they are doing. They aim to channel this passion a positive way, however, rather than let it become debilitating.

They often try to take the emotion out of the situation and look at it in an analytical way. This sounds easier said than done, but it is often necessary in order to do good work.

How to take this step? Bearing in mind the results you are trying to achieve, it is to do the basics that are required to deliver the goods.

The Basics Involve Aiming:

To clarify the key strategies you can follow to give yourself the greatest chance of success.

To translate these into clear action plans, practice the basics and prepare properly to give yourself the greatest chance of success.

To then keep doing the basics and – when appropriate – add the brilliance to give yourself the greatest chance of success.

Different workers obviously follow different kinds of basics. An athlete, musician, scientist or educator, for example, will follow different habits. They often share the same aims, however, which is to be professional and deliver peak performance.

What do such basics look like? As mentioned, these differ from field to field. Below is one example.

This is a short extract from the train-the-trainer workshop called The Mentor As Trusted Advisor. These highlight some of the basics that the mentors can focus on when preparing for a mentoring session.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Imagine that you are clear on the results you want to achieve.

You can clarify the basics you can follow to give yourself the greatest chance of success.  

You can then develop good habits and keep doing the right things in the right way every day.

You can keep doing reality checks: a) To build on what is working; b) To tackle areas for improvement.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Bearing in mind what you can control, this invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific big occasion in the future when you want to do your best.

Describe the specific things you can do to get the basics right both before and during the big occasion.

The Brilliance

Great workers continually deliver high professional standards. Sometimes they go beyond this, however, and deliver peak performances.

The singer uses their talent to serve the song and gives a remarkable performance. The soccer player produces a piece of magic to score a memorable goal. The mediator stay calm under pressure. They then produce a breakthrough solution that ensures all parties get a win-win.

Great workers sometimes reach the goal by adding that touch of class. Sometimes this means doing something exceptional.

Sometimes, however, it means doing the simple things that give people pleasure. When working in an hospice, for example, it can be something as simple as giving a person a lovely cup of tea and listening while they talk.

BJ Miller highlights how such the little things can make the difference in his TED Talk called What really matters at the end of life. In it he describes the work of the Zen Hospice in San Francisco. You can discover about their work more via the following link.

https://www.zenhospice.org/

BJ describes his own near death experience and how he was helped to recover. He also describes how the little things mean a lot toward the end of life. Here is one example.

Kate just wants to know her dog Austin is lying at the foot of her bed, his cold muzzle against her dry skin, instead of more chemotherapy coursing through her veins – she’s done that.  

Sensuous, aesthetic gratification, where in a moment, in an instant, we are rewarded for just being. So much of it comes down to loving our time by way of the senses, by way of the body – the very thing doing the living and the dying. 

Looking back at his own recovery from being electrocuted, BJ recalls one experience that helped him to feel alive.

Beauty can be found anywhere. I spent a few months in a burn unit at St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston, New Jersey, where I got really great care at every turn, including good palliative care for my pain.  

And one night, it began to snow outside. I remember my nurses complaining about driving through it. And there was no window in my room, but it was great to just imagine it coming down all sticky.  

Next day, one of my nurses smuggled in a snowball for me. She brought it in to the unit. 

I cannot tell you the rapture I felt holding that in my hand, and the coldness dripping onto my burning skin; the miracle of it all, the fascination as I watched it melt and turn into water. 

In that moment, just being any part of this planet in this universe mattered more to me than whether I lived or died. That little snowball packed all the inspiration I needed to both try to live and be OK if I did not. In a hospital, that’s a stolen moment.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Imagine that you are preparing for a potential big occasion in the future.

You have already clarified the results you want to achieve and how you can keep doing the basics. Looking ahead, what else can you do to add that touch of class?

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

Describe the specific big occasion in the future when you want to do your best. 

Describe the specific things you can do to, if appropriate, add the brilliance.

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