The Art of Strengths Coaching

S is for Helping Other People To Shine      

Most people like to succeed. Some people, however, have an even stronger desire to help others to develop. They get a great kick from enabling people to succeed.

There are many ways to take this step. Edward Hallowell described one approach in his book Shine. Peter Benson also provided many practical tools on this theme in his book Sparks.

Edwards describes a meeting with a real shoeshine person at Logan Airport in Boston. He saw an elderly man sitting next to his metal walker. Approaching him, Edward asked where he could get his shoe shined. The man smiled, drew himself up and said:

I’m the shoeshine guy. Set you bags next to my walker here and step on up into my office. I am Dr. Shine.

While shining the shoes, the man asked Edward what he did for a living. Edward explained that his speciality was to help people to make the best of their abilities. The man responded in the following way.

Interesting. Would you believe it, that is my speciality too!

I get up every morning, and I look forward to helping people get into the right frame of mine so they can shine, no matter where they go or what they do. When I do that, I’m happy.

Every time you’re with a person, you’ve got a big chance. I say, don’t miss it. Don’t worry about putting out the fire before striking the match.

I always strike the match. I want to find that spark in the person, you get what I mean?

The man had been diagnosed with MS, but he wanted to keep working. Edward asked how he maintained his drive. The man replied in the following way.

When somebody is sitting up in that chair, all I think about is what he needs and that gives me energy. I love to find that spark.  

Edward goes on to describe how managers can enable their people to perform at their best. You can discover more about this approach, together with his work on ADHD, via the following link.

http://www.drhallowell.com/

Looking back, can you think of a situation in which you helped a person to shine? This could have been in a personal or professional situation.

You may have encouraged a loved one, friend, colleague or client. It could have been in a relationship, school, sports, entertainment or a work situation.

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 helped a person to shine.  

Describe the specific things you did to help them to shine. 

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

Imagine that a person has asked you to help them to build on their strengths. Different people focus on different things when helping people to take this step. Edward Hallowell described how Dr. Shine looked for the sparks in people.

Peter Benson had a similar approach. He urged parents and teachers to look for the sparks in children and teenagers. He wrote:

Children want to be known for their sparks.

A spark is something that gives your life meaning and purpose. It’s an interest, a passion, or a gift.

When you see these sparks in them, then affirm them. You shall know them by their sparks.  

Sparks are the hidden flames in kids that excite them and tap into their true passions.

Sparks come from the gut. They motivate and inspire. They’re authentic passions, talents, assets, skills, and dreams.

Sparks can be musical, athletic, intellectual, academic, or relational; from playing the violin to working with kids or senior citizens.

Sparks get kids going on a positive path, away from the conflicts and negative issues – violence, promiscuity, drugs, and alcohol – that give teens a bad name and attract so much negative energy.

Sparks can ignite a lifelong vocation or career, or balance other activities to create an emotionally satisfying, enriched life.

Below is a video of Peter talking at TED. He passed away in 2011 but his work lives on through his colleagues at the Search Institute. You can discover more at the official web site.

http://www.search-institute.org/

Many people are familiar with the idea of helping people to build on their strengths. One key aspect of helping a person to shine, however, is to make sure they put themselves into the right situation.

Different individuals flourish when doing different activities. A person may do their best work when they are:

Counselling people … Cultivating plants … Making engines work … Teaching particular skills … Creating customised furniture … Solving technical problems

Playing in a particular position in soccer … Cooking classic food … Selling to specific types of customers … Performing certain kinds of songs … Giving keynote speeches … Cooking Managing particular crises.

Sometimes a person may be brilliant in a specific activity, but not as good at something that seems related. They may be superb when coaching motivated people, for example, but have little patience with those who are high maintenance.

The key is to find the specific situation – the niche – in which the person has the ability to excel. You can then provide practical tools they can use to set specific goals, perform superb work and achieve their picture of success.

Here is an overview of some themes you may wish to explore with a person to help them to shine.

Looking ahead, can you think of a person that you would like to help to shine? You may want to encourage a loved one, friend or colleague at work. They must, of course, want you to help them.

How can you help them to build on their strengths and put themselves into the right situation? How can you encourage them to set specific goals and do superb work? How you enable them to, in their own way, shine?

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 would like to help a person to shine.

Describe the specific things you can do to help them to shine.

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

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