The Art of Strengths Coaching

S is for Doing The Solid Stuff And The Shiny Stuff  

There are many models for doing fine work. One approach is to do the solid stuff and then the shiny stuff on the way towards achieving success.

There are different names for this approach. It may be called doing the basics and then adding the brilliance; doing the grunt work and then the great work; doing the things that are necessary to do and then the things that are nice to do.

The Democratic Party focused on doing the solid stuff during the 2008 and 2012 US Presidential campaigns. It built on the Democratic leaning States such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The Democrats seemed to take these States for granted during the 2016. Certainly there were many reasons for its defeat, but one was that it put less resources into its so-called Blue Wall.

Carrying those previously solid States would have secured victory. Instead the party spent lots of time in States such as North Carolina and Arizona.

Peak performers start by doing the solid stuff. This may mean getting physically fit, creating the right infrastructure or producing the right foundation. Building on this base, they then add the more spectacular things when necessary.

Great organisations, for example, build on the positive people who behave in a professional way. They spend lots of time encouraging these people, because they provide the base. Such organisations spend little time indulging people who are not prepared to behave in a professional way.

Looking back, can you think of a situation when you did the solid stuff and then added the shiny stuff? You may have done this when renovating a house, moving into a new job, turning around your finances, leading a team 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 did the solid stuff and then did the shiny stuff on the way towards achieving success.

Describe the specific things you did to take these steps.

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

The Solid Stuff

Looking to the future, can you think of a project where you will need to do the solid stuff and then the shiny stuff to achieve success? What can you do to make this happen?

John Wooden, the basketball coach, stressed the importance of getting the basics right when building his teams. During his early career began developing what later became known as his famous Pyramid of Success.

This consisted of guiding principles that athletes could follow both on and off the court. The base of the Pyramid consists of phrases such as: Industriousness; Friendship: Loyalty; Cooperation; Enthusiasm. Behind each of these words is an explanation.

The word Industriousness, for example, is explained in detail. This includes the phrases:

In plain language, I mean you have to work – and work hard. There is no substitute for hard work. None. Worthwhile things come only from real work.

There are several levels to the Pyramid of Success. It culminates in the principle of Competitive Greatness. This is explained as:

Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day. 

Here is a TED talk in which John talks about his definition of success. You can discover more at the website dedicated to his work.

http://www.coachwooden.com/

John reinforced the Pyramid of Success by using certain maxims to remind people of their responsibilities. These included:

Be true to yourself … Help others … There is a no substitute for hard work and careful planning … Make friendship a fine art … Make each day your masterpiece … Be more interested in character than reputation.

The litmus test was that the approach worked. His teams left a legacy of winning titles, even though he did not talk about winning. Many players, commentators and others were touched by his work. Bill Walton, a former player, said:

(He) has a heart, brain and soul that have enabled him to inspire others to reach levels of success and peace of mind that they might never have dreamed possible on their own. 

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

Describe a specific project you would like to do in the future.

Describe the specific things you can do to perform the solid stuff when doing this project.  

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

The Shiny Stuff

Many people are drawn towards a particular type of work because they are attracted by the shiny stuff. They enjoy the idea of publishing a book, running a restaurant, performing on stage, winning medals in sport or whatever.

After investigating the particular work further, however, they find that it involves lots of grunt work as well as great work. This can test whether they have the attitude, aptitude and application required to do superb work in the specific activity.

Great workers often enjoy doing both the solid stuff and the shiny stuff in their chosen field. They see a meaning in what they are doing – such as following certain daily disciplines – because this is contributing towards achieving the big picture.

Different people will have different views regarding the favourite aspects of their work. On some occasions, however, the shiny part is when:

They can do the specific activities they find most stimulating.

They can apply their strengths and perform superb work.

They can sometimes produce something special.

Some people also like to show off their skills and get appreciation from an audience. This response feeds their desire to keep doing the shiny stuff.

Looking at your own work, what is the shiny stuff? It may be, for example:

Serving delicious meals … Doing customised carpentry … Writing articles … Caring for sick animals … Finding solutions to technical problems … Doing one-to-one coaching … Designing buildings … Practising surgery … Singing on stage.

Looking ahead, imagine that you are doing your chosen project. What would be your equivalent of doing the shiny stuff? How can you use your strengths to do superb work? How can you reach your goal and then add that touch of class?

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

Describe a specific project you would like to do in the future. 

Describe the specific things you can do to perform the shiny stuff when doing this project.  

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

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