The Art of Strengths Coaching

D is for Having The Desire And Discipline To Reach The Destination And Not Being Distracted By Dramas  

Great workers demonstrate the desire and discipline required to reach their chosen destination. They do not get distracted by dramas.

They buy time to think when faced by situations that could potentially derail their efforts. They then go through the following steps.

They refocus on the destination. 

They find a way to deal with the potential drama.

They resume following their disciplines on the way towards reaching the destination.

Different people take these steps in different ways. The first step, however, is to clarify their chosen destination. Let’s explore how to make this happen. 

Defining The Destination

Imagine that you want to achieve a particular goal. The first step is to clarify the real results you want to achieve. It is then to translate these into a clear picture of success.

Different people want to reach different kinds of destinations. Some individuals aim to achieve a specific goal. They may aim to a personal or professional target that for them embodies their picture of success.

Some individuals aim to follow certain principles. They believe that, providing they do this properly, they will be more likely to achieve their aims. Doing their best to follow their principles in their daily life then becomes the actual destination.

Here are some examples of how different people define the real results they want to achieve. They then do their best to achieve these aims.

Good trusted advisors, for example, aim to pass on knowledge that helps other people to achieve their goals. Some set goals by clarifying the actual words they would like the person to be saying after a session. Here is an example of such an approach.

The Destination

The actual words I would like the person
to be saying after the session are these.

“I enjoyed the session. I got lots of practical tools that I can use in my work. I feel more able to shape my future and achieve success. 

“The trusted advisor made me feel welcome and I was able to explore all the topics on my agenda. I felt that they understood my challenges and my goals. They helped me to focus on the real results I wanted to achieve. 

“I liked the way that they helped me to understand how I had tackled similar challenges successfully in the past. This gave me confidence that I could tackle the present challenges successfully.  

“Looking at the first topic I wanted to explore, the trusted advisor outlined the possible options I could pursue going forwards. They also outlined the pluses and minuses of each option.

“When appropriate, they asked if it was okay for them to share their ideas. They then outlined some possible options that I had not considered. This was extremely helpful.

“I liked the way they invited me to take a little time to reflect and consider the route I wanted to take. Once I had done this, they provided lots of practical tips and tools that I could use to pursue this route.

“We worked through each topic on my agenda. We then concluded the session by clarifying my actions plans for going forwards. I believe in these action plans and feel that taking these steps will give me the greatest chance of success.”

Great performers in sports also focus on their chosen destination. Sports is often considered a results business, but the athlete is not always in control of the outcome. Bearing this in mind, they focus on controlling the controllables. They then translate these into a clear picture of success.

The athlete can control the way they prepare for an event. They can also aim to do their best on the day. They cannot control the weather or the opposition. They can, however, do their best to manage these challenges.

Bearing these factors in mind, they clarify the real results they want to achieve. Here is an example of what their goals may look like when preparing for an event.

The Destination

The real results I want to achieve are: 

To prepare myself properly – both physically and psychologically – to do my best on the day.

To be fully present, click into action and do my best on the day. 

To keep following my chosen principles and perform superbly on the day.

To buy time when faced by challenges, consider my options and pursue my chosen strategies for doing my best on the day.

To keep following my principles and, when looking back, to be able to say: “I gave everything and did my best on the day.”

Imagine that you want to achieve a specific goal. You may want to run a workshop, build a business, improve your health, renovate a house, lead a team to success or whatever.

What are the real results you want to achieve? What is your picture of success? What are the actual words you would like to be saying afterwards? What would you like other people to be saying? What will be happening that will show you have reached your destination?

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

Describe in headline terms the specific goal you want to achieve. 

Describe the real results you want to achieve. This can include the specific things that will be happening that will show you have done your best to achieve the goal.

The Desire

Imagine that you have set a specific goal. Bearing in mind the work involved, how strong is your motivation to do what is required to deliver the goods? Rate this on a scale 0 – 10.

This is a crucial step. Many people set goals but do not think of the work involved in reaching the destination. Then, when the difficulties kick in, they stop working to reach the goals.

Good decision makers recognise that with every choice there are consequences. Bearing this in mind, they consider the pluses and minuses involved. They then rate their desire to do what is required to achieve the picture of success.

Looking at your own rating, make sure it is at least 8/10. You can then focus on what you can to do maintain or improve the rating. This includes finding ways to encourage yourself on the journey, especially when things get tough.

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

Describe the specific goal you want to achieve.

Describe the specific rating you would give yourself – on a scale 0-10 – regarding your desire to do what is required to achieve the goal.

Describe the specific things you can do to maintain or improve the rating.

The Discipline

Many people have the desire to do something, but then comes the work. This calls for following daily disciplines.

The athlete gets up at 5.00 am to go running. The person who wants to lose weight gets into the habit of eating healthy food. The artist follows their chosen rituals to perform creative work.

Great workers clarify the strategies they can follow to achieve their picture of success. They translate these into daily disciplines they can take to reach their goals. How to make this happen?

Twyla Tharp, the choreographer, recommends following certain rituals. Even in her 60s she started her day at 5.30 am and walked out of her flat onto the Manhattan Street. She hailed a cab that took her to the gym for a two-hour workout.

Twyla believes that it is vital to start the day properly. Writing in her book The Creative Habit, she explains:

Being creative is an everyday thing, a job with its own routine.

The routine is as much part of the creative process as the lightning bolt of inspiration (perhaps more). And it is available to everyone. 

If creativity is a habit, then the best creativity is a result of good work habits.

Imagine that you want to follow certain disciplines to reach your goal. There are two main approaches to making this happen. These are: 

You can build on your previous successful patterns.

You can develop new successful patterns.

Let’s start by focusing on the first theme. This is based on the organic approach. People already have the seeds of development within them. Everybody has followed successful patterns, even if only for a few minutes.

Imagine that you want to behave in a certain way to reach a specific goal. The organic approach invites you to explore the following questions.

When have you have behaved in this way in the past?

What were you doing right then? What were the principles you followed? How did you translate these into behaviour?

How can you follow these principles again in the future? How can you translate these into behaviour?

The organic approach builds on what you know works. It says that you already have strengths and successful patterns within you. It is simply a matter of finding and following these in the future.

“That sounds okay,” somebody may say. “But what about when you need to learn a completely new habit?”

It is then possible to learn from the approach outlined by James Clear. He believes it is important to focus on the following themes.

Reminder: You can remind yourself to adopt the new habit.

Routine: You can develop a routine in which you follow the new habit. 

Reward: You can reward yourself for following the new habit.

James describes this approach in his article The 3 R’s of Habit Change: How to Start New Habits That Actually Stick. Below is an excerpt from his article. You can discover more via the following link.

http://jamesclear.com/three-steps-habit-change

Your life today is essentially the sum of your habits.

How in shape or out of shape you are? A result of your habits.

How happy or unhappy you are? A result of your habits. 

How successful or unsuccessful you are? A result of your habits. 

What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray.

But what if you want to improve? What if you want to form new habits? How would you go about it? 

Turns out, there’s a helpful framework that can make it easier to stick to new habits so that you can improve your health, your work, and your life in general. Let’s talk about that framework now…

The 3 R’s of Habit Change

Every habit you have — good or bad — follows the same 3-step pattern.

Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior) 

Routine (the behavior itself; the action you take) 

Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior). 

Let’s return to the goal you want to achieve. What are the disciplines you can follow to work towards delivering your goal? How can you develop a daily rhythm in which you follow these habits?

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

Describe the specific goal you want to achieve.

Describe the specific disciplines you can follow to do your best to achieve the goal.

Dealing With Dramas

Great workers focus on controlling the controllables. They do not get distracted by dramas. They do not become victims of their own emotional ups or downs. They channel their feelings into working towards achieving the goals.

They do not, when working in organisations, get caught up in turf wars or game playing. They do not get side tracked by individuals who choose to be dramatic or have serial problems.

Great workers keep focusing on the results to achieve rather than the running commentary. Such distracting noises may come from their own negative scripting or from observer critics who have their own agendas.

They keep following the required disciplines when tackling challenges. They do this when, for example, taking penalties in a shoot-out, presenting to a big audience or dealing with a crisis.

Great workers do their diligence before embarking on a project. They anticipate the potential dramas they may encounter on the journey. They then explore the follow themes.

How can I prevent these potential dramas happening?

How can I deal with any dramas if, despite my best efforts, they do happen?

Great workers stay calm if the dramas do happen. Buying time to think, they then often use the Three C Model for finding solutions to challenges. They work through the following steps.

Clarity

What is actually happening? What can I control in the situation? Looking ahead, what are the real results I want to achieve? What is the picture of success?

Creativity 

What are the possible options for going forwards? What are the pluses and minuses of each option? Are there any other possible creative solutions? What are the key strategies I can follow to give myself the greatest chance of success?

Concrete Results 

What is the route – or combination of routes – I want to follow? How can I translate this into a clear action plan? How can I do my best to achieve the picture of success?

Settling on their action plan, they become totally engaged and go into the arena. They then flow, focus and finish. They do whatever is required to deliver the results.

Great teams follow a similar pattern. They encourage people to channel their feelings into refocusing on the destination, desire and the discipline that is required. They do not get diverted by dramas that take energy away from achieving the goal.

Let’s return to your life and work. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. It invites you to do the following things. 

Describe the potential dramas you may encounter on the way towards achieving the goal. 

Describe the specific things you can do to prevent some of these dramas happening. 

Describe the specific things you can do to deal with some of these dramas if, despite your best efforts, they do happen.  

Reaching The Destination

Imagine that you are aiming to reach a goal. You feel motivated and keep following the required disciplines. You also deal with any dramas along the way.

How can you do your best to reach the destination?  Finishing is a key skill in life. The motto is: “Flow, focus, finish and, as a by-product, find fulfilment.”

Sounds easy in theory, but how does it work in practice? One approach is to find and follow your successful pattern for finishing. This involves taking the following steps.

Describe a situation in the past when you finished successfully. You may have passed an exam, renovated a house, performed at your best till the end of an event or completed a project.

Describe what you did right then – the principles you followed – to finish successfully.  

Describe the specific things you can do to follow these principles – plus maybe add other skills – to do your best to finish successfully in the future.

You will have your own way of finishing, but here are some suggestions. It can be useful to do some of the following things.

To set aside time to tackle the challenge. 

To break down the challenge into achievable tasks that you can complete to gain a sense of satisfaction.  

To organise your time in blocks so you can concentrate fully on the task.

To make good use of your prime times – the times of the day when you have most energy – and also build in time for rest and recovery.

To keep doing the right things in the right way every day.

To encourage yourself on the journey and, when hitting difficulties, lift your eyes to focus on the picture of success.

To keep working hard and then flow, focus and finish.

Finishing is just another name for beginning. Soon it will be time to find another challenge to tackle, another dream to pursue. You can then again follow your successful pattern for finishing.

Great teams often follow similar steps to enable their people to finish successfully. They encourage people:

To keep following the key strategies and perform superb work. 

To anticipate and manage potential challenges.

To keep working hard and do their best to achieve the picture of success.

Everybody has dreams and some translate these into reality. Such people consider the full implications of the task. Choosing to go forward, they commit themselves fully.

Embarking on the journey, they show the desire and discipline required to reach their destination. They demonstrate the qualities described by T. E. Lawrence, who wrote:

All men dream; but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act out their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.

Imagine that you want to do your best to reach your chosen destination. If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things. 

Describe the specific goal you want to achieve. 

Describe the specific things you can do to do your best to reach your chosen destination.

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    S is for Focusing On Stimulation, Specific Goals And Success  

    There are many ways to feel alive. One approach is to focus on stimulation, specific goals and success. Following these steps can help people to enjoy a sense of satisfaction.

    Looking back, can you think of a time when you followed these steps in your own way? This could have been in your personal or professional life.

    You may have been encouraging a person, tending your garden or doing a creative project. You may have been cooking a meal, playing a sport, tackling a challenge, solving a complex problem or doing another activity.

    Did you actively do something to find the stimulation? Or did the stimulation come from outside in the form of an uplifting experience or challenge? How did you translate this feeling into setting a specific goal? What did you do then to achieve your picture of success?

    Joseph Campbell, the famous professor of mythology, described how many people came to him to ask questions about life. One of the most common they asked was:

    How can I find meaning in my life?

    How to answer such a question? One approach is to help individuals to recall their most satisfying experiences and to find the recurring patterns. It is then to help them translate these patterns into a clear purpose and clarify their lifetime picture of success.

    Joseph found that many of the seekers were actually searching for something else. They wanted to experience the rapture of life. He explained this in the following way.

    People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking.

    I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.

    Let’s return to your own life and work. If you wish, try tackling the following exercise.

    Describe a specific time when you went through the stages of focusing on stimulation, specific goals and success.

    Describe the specific things you did to go through these steps.

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

    Stimulation

    During my work I meet many people who have a positive attitude and aim to do their best in life. When they go off track or feel down, however, they often refocus on the well-spring of their lives.

    Such people revisit phrases like joy, happiness and stimulation. They do things that give them positive energy. This acts as an antidote to feeling grim or ground down.

    One leader I worked with took this approach with her team. She encouraged her team to focus how they could deliver the scorecard and also do stimulating projects.

    Every organisation has its own version of a scorecard. This describes the mandatory things that each team must deliver. Each person will also be given a scorecard. This describes what they must deliver in a specific role.

    Some scorecards mainly focus on the What. They are written in outcome terms and outline the specific results people must deliver. People are then given freedom, within parameters, regarding how they deliver these results.

    Some scorecards are much more detailed. They describe not only the What but also have strict controls on the How. The centre wants to feel more in control – not only of what people deliver, but how they go about it in their daily work.

    The leader I worked with aimed to get the right balance between delivering the scorecard and doing stimulating projects. She explained this in the following way.

    The scorecard has changed as our business has got bigger. Ten years ago it contained a few top line targets. These covered the normal 3 Ps of Profits, Products and People.  

    We had lots of freedom in terms of how we worked to hit these targets.

    During the past few years, however, the scorecard has contained more and more micro-targets. Sometimes it is hard to see the relevance of these to running a successful business. 

    Some people get upset about the scorecard, but I say to the people who join my team that we have several choices. We can choose:

    To ignore the scorecard;

    To fight the centre about the scorecard;

    To grumble about the scorecard and let it dominate our lives; 

    To complete the parts of the scorecard we believe in; 

    To deliver the scorecard – but in a way that is creative – and get on with doing other stimulating work as well. 

    I tell the people that we are going with final option. This is the way we can keep the centre off our backs and create the space to do other good work. 

    If people don’t want to do that – if they just want to do the things they find interesting without delivering their part of the scorecard – they should find another team. 

    We deliver the scorecard and also aim to do satisfying work. But there is a proviso.

    One day it may be that the scorecard becomes debilitating. If so, then we each need to make a choice. We may choose to move on to work places that give people more autonomy regarding how they deliver the required results.

    Bearing this in mind, I invite each of the team members to do the following things. I invite them: 

    To clarify the specific things they want to deliver towards achieving the scorecard; 

    To clarify the specific stimulating projects they would like to do that will also help the organisation to achieve success. 

    We can then make clear contracts about what each person will deliver in the financial year.  

    The leader implemented this approach for many years. This proved successful and enabled many people to grow. At a certain point, however, the process became too exhausting.

    The scorecard became an excuse for micro-managing from the centre. It also failed to embody the strategies needed to improve the business. The leader then moved on to another company where people can do stimulating work that contributes to achieving the scorecard.

    Let’s return to your own life and work. What are the things you find stimulating in your personal and professional life?

    You may enjoy writing articles, playing music, singing in a choir, walking beside the sea or being with your loved ones. You may enjoy working with certain clients, doing creative projects, passing on knowledge to people or doing other activities.

    If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the specific things that you find stimulating.

    Specific Goals

    Imagine you have described the things you find stimulating. How can you do more of these things in the future?

    Some people take this step to feel more alive. Some take it to shift their careers.

    Mark Evans, for example, is somebody I met when he was Chief Veterinary Advisor to the RSPCA. Whilst doing fine work in that role, he continued to take an interest in making films. Returning to this passion, he set several specific goals.

    He aimed to earn a full-time living from hosting or producing populist, science-based, factual documentaries for TV and Online. His strategy was to strengthen and broaden his network amongst broadcasters and other production companies.

    This led to him seeking and making the most of opportunities as they emerged. These included making films such as Dogs: Their Secret Lives and The BAFTA winning Inside Nature’s Giants.

    Mark also made films about cars such as Inside Jaguar and The Engine That Powers The World. His other films include Dead Famous DNA and How To Win The Grand National.

    He hosted Channel 4’s innovative, multi-platform, live events such as Hippo: Nature’s Wild Feast (winner of a prestigious Wild Screen Innovation Award) and Foxes Live. The latter generated the second biggest web traffic in Channel 4’s history. You can discover more about Mark via the following link.

    https://www.markevans.co.uk/

    Jacqui Smith pursued the things she found stimulating and translated these into a specific project. Several years ago she attended a career management workshop I ran for people who wanted to make a living doing satisfying work.

    Looking back at the stimulating projects in her life, she found a recurring theme was creating enriching environments. She decided to pool her talents with David, her husband, a master carpenter. They set up their own interior design company called HomeSmiths.

    Beginning by working for family and friends, Jacqui and David found customers through their network. Sixteen years later they continue to do satisfying work and have gained national recognition. You can discover more about HomeSmiths via the follow link.

    http://www.homesmiths.co.uk/

    Different people choose different ways to translate their stimulation into specific goals. Some may simply aim to do more of these activities. They may go skiing, learn a language, master a skill or care for the garden.

    Some may focus on one such activity and translate it into an ambitious project. This can sometimes turn into something life changing. In some cases it can help them to shape their future career.

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

    Describe the specific stimulating activity that you would like to pursue.

    Describe the specific goal you would like to achieve by pursuing this activity.  

    Describe the specific things that would be happening that would show you have achieved the goal.

    Success

    Imagine that you have set a specific goal. How can you do your best to achieve your picture of success? Much will depend on the activity that you find stimulating.

    You may aim to do something playful, practise a craft or pursue a creative project. You may aim to be still, enjoy silence or sleep. You may aim to tackle a difficult challenge, sweat or solve problems.

    Bearing these things in mind, how can you reach your goal? One approach is to learn from your positive history.

    Everybody has strengths and successful patterns. Looking back on their life, they can learn from their achievements. They may have overcome an illness, performed in a play or played sports at a high level. They may have built a good relationship, written an article, helped a person or led a successful team.

    What did they do right then to reach a goal? What were the principles they followed? How did they translate these into action? How can they follow similar principles – and perhaps add other skills – to do their best to reach their next goal?

    If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme called My Successful Style. Bearing in mind the goal you want achieve, try exploring the following themes

    My Successful Style 

    The specific situation in the past when I worked
    towards a similar goal and achieved success was:

    * When I … 

    The specific things I did right then – the principles I
    followed and how I translated these into action – were:

    * I … 

    * I … 

    * I … 

    * I …

    * I … 

    The specific things I can do to follow some of these
    principles – plus maybe add other skills – to work towards
    my present goal and do my best to achieve success are:

    * I can … 

    * I can …

    * I can …

    * I can … 

    * I can …

    Different people choose different ways to tackle challenges and reach their goal. Many build on their strengths, however, and follow their successful patterns.

    Jill Bolte Taylor used many of her strengths when producing her book called Stroke Of Insight. Below is a video in which Jill describes her experience. Here is the description of her talk from the TED web site.

    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.

    You can discover more about Jill’s work via the following link.

    http://drjilltaylor.com/

    There are many models for doing satisfying work. One approach is to pursue the things you find stimulating. It is then to set a specific goal and aim to achieve your picture of success.

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

    Describe the stimulating activity you want to pursue and the specific goal you want to achieve. 

    Describe the specific things you can do to do your best to reach the specific goal and achieve success.

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      R is for Rising To The Occasion  

      There are many models for doing fine work. One approach is to clarify the real results you want to achieve in a situation. It is then to focus on readiness, rhythm and rising Read more

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        P is for Helping A Person To Protect Themselves In A Problematic Situation    

        During the past 50 years I have worked with many people who have felt vulnerable in difficult situations. The circumstances may have varied, but all have felt distressed.

        Some have felt physically or psychologically Read more

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          T is for The Together View Of Life rather than The Tribal View Of Life  

          There are many ways to look at life. Some people take the together view of life whilst others take the tribal view of life. Let’s explore these two approaches.

          The Together View

          People who Read more

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            P is for The Positive Modelling Approach To Delivering Positive Results    

            Imagine that you lead an organisation. How can you encourage people to do great work?

            One method is to use the positive modelling approach towards delivering positive results. This article explores several steps you Read more

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              B is for Building A Team Based On The Beliefs, Basics And Brilliance  

              There are many ways to build fine teams. This article looks at how you can help people to build on their beliefs, keep doing the basics and then add the brilliance.

              The Beliefs Read more

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                A is for The Advantage Of Seeing Things From Another Angle  

                Some people gain an advantage by being able to see things from a different angle. Different people develop this ability in different ways.

                People who are labelled as different relatively early in life Read more

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                  P is for The Positive Team Approach

                  Imagine that you lead a team. You will obviously do this in your own way. Here are some ideas, however, that you can use to build a positive team in which people work well Read more

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                    S is for Sages Who Are Both Skipping And Serious  

                    Some sages seem to be skipping with joy and yet can also be serious. As they get older, they seem more able to have a sense of perspective about life.

                    They can be a Read more

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