The Art of Strengths Coaching

P is for Pursuing A Relatively Predictable Path Towards Achieving Positive Results

During the past 50 years I have been given the chance to study many great workers. These have included people working in psychotherapy, education, sports, business and other fields.

When watching these people in action at first it appeared they had only one thing common. This was their ability to make complicated things simple. But then other patterns began to emerge.

These came to the fore when I had the opportunity to interview such people before they did a piece of work. One characteristic that stood out was their confidence about the path they aimed to follow.

Great workers kept reiterating this theme, whatever their chosen field. They might be running a therapy session, coaching a sports team, taking over a business or whatever. Here is a summary of what such a person might say about their approach to doing a piece of work.

I do everything possible to create predictability and increase the chances of success. This involves doing my due diligence.

I clarify the results to achieve and the strategies most likely to succeed. Rating the chances of success on a scale 0 to 10, I clarify what I can do to increase the rating. 

I do lots of preparation. This involves rehearsing the strategies I want to follow and the potential challenges along the way. I then relax and rest.

I follow certain rituals on the day of the work. Clicking into action, I then follow the strategies. I stay alert and keep checking that things are going okay. I then do my best to achieve success.

Since then I have watched many such people in action. Here are some of the patterns that have emerged.

Great workers build on their strengths and manage the consequences of any weaknesses. They also demonstrate the following characteristics.

They are passionate about their work and explore many possibilities that can achieve positive results.

They prepare massively before doing a specific piece of work and plan how to do their best to achieve positive results.  

They then pursue what they see as a relatively predictable path – including dealing with the unexpected – that will increase the chances of achieving positive results.

Looking at your own life, can you think of a situation when have you taken similar steps in your own way? You may have been aiming to apply for a job, take over a team, compete in a sports event, make a difficult transition or whatever.

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

Describe a specific situation in the past when you aimed to pursue a relatively predictable path towards achieving positive results. 

Describe the specific things you did to take these steps.  

Describe the specific things that happened as a result.

Great workers aim to set things up to succeed and create as much predictability as possible. They are then more able to deal with unpredictability when it happens. This predictability, however, must be based on what works. How to take this step?

Bearing in mind the piece of work they are going to do, they start by studying success. They aim to study what works and do what works. As the saying goes, they stand on the shoulders of giants. Passionate about they chosen field, they continually explore how to deliver positive results.

Great workers build on their own strengths and prepare properly before doing a piece of work. They clarify the real results to achieve. They then clarify the strategies they will follow – including planning for the unexpected – on the way towards delivering the desired positive results.

Such workers do their due diligence before committing to doing a piece of work. Imagine, for example, that you have been invited to run a workshop for a company. Before the session, you will aim to meet with the key stakeholders and some of the participants:

To clarify the real results what they want to achieve from the workshop.

To clarify the key topics they want to explore and the challenges they face.

To clarify the actual words they want to be saying after the workshop – such as:  

“That was valuable … We got many practical tools we can use in our daily work … We now feel more equipped to do superb work and achieve our picture of success.”

Clear contracting is crucial. In addition to agreeing on the results to achieve, you will make clear contracts about your role and the role of the participants in the workshop.

Your role will be to encourage people and provide practical tools that will enable them to achieve success. The role of the participants will be to encourage each other, take the ideas they like and use these in their own ways to achieve success.

Looking ahead to the workshop, you can clarify the key strategies you can follow to achieve the desired results. Exploring these in depth, you can rate the probability of success. You can also consider how to improve the chances of delivering the goods.

You can use variations of this approach whether you are planning to run a workshop, take a role in a company, build your own business or whatever. It can be useful to try completing the following exercise.

The Picture Of Success 

The real results to achieve are:

*

*

*

The Strategies 

The key strategies I can follow to give
myself the greatest chance of success are: 

* 

* 

*

The Success Rating

Bearing in mind the things I can control, I
believe the chances of achieving success are:

____ / 10 

The specific things I can do to
maintain or improve this rating are:

* 

* 

*

Great workers rehearse the work they are going to do. This is the path taken by athletes, actors, dancers and others who must translate ideas into physical actions. They keep working until they feel prepared for the performance.

Some people do mental rehearsal. There are many approaches to taking this step. Below is one framework. This involves relaxing and working through the following stages.

Great workers often have a ritual they follow before launching into the actual work. They then click into action, are fully present and pursue their chosen strategies.

They stay fully alert, however, and use their antennae to be aware of what is happening. They keep doing reality checks about: a) What is working; b) What can be done better and how. They then implement these ideas.

Great workers buy time if things start going astray. They then go into classic problem solving mode by focusing on clarity, creativity. They work through the following stages and then commit to pursuing their chosen way forwards.

Great workers try to create as much predictability as possible. They are then more able to deal with unexpected events. They perform superb work, stay alert and do their best to achieve the desired positive results.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation when you may want to take some of these steps in your own way? This could be in your personal or professional life.

How can you clarify the picture of success? How can you clarify what is most likely to work? How can you pursue your chosen strategies? How can you deal with unexpected events? How can you do your best to achieve the desired positive results?

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 aim to pursue a relatively predictable path towards achieving positive results.

Describe the specific things you can do then to take these steps.  

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result.

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