The Art of Strengths Coaching

P is for The Positive Approach To Pursuing Your Purpose During Your Time On The Planet

There are many ways to live life. One approach is to choose to have a positive attitude. You can then pursue your purpose, principles and picture of success. It is to keep following this approach during your time on the planet.

People who take this approach are often positive realists. They have a positive attitude but are also good at reading reality. They are good at seeing patterns and anticipating what may happen. They then build on what they can control and manage what they can’t.

Such people develop a sense of purpose. Sometimes it means following a spiritual faith, a vocation or serving something greater than themselves. Sometimes it means focusing on short-term goals. Sometimes it means working towards their life goals.

They believe in following their principles and expressing these in their daily lives and work. They may choose to do this by, for example, encouraging people, doing satisfying work or helping to build a better world.

Such people sometimes translate their purpose and principles into achieving specific aims. They focus on the real results they want to achieve. They then translate these into working towards a clear picture of success.

Looking back, can you think of a situation when you chose to take some of these steps? You may have chosen to overcome a setback, pursue a stimulating project, tackle a challenge or do another activity that gave you satisfaction.

What did you do then to have a positive attitude? What did you to focus on the specific purpose, follow your principles and achieve your picture of success?

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 pursued a specific purpose, followed your principles and worked to achieve a picture of success.  

Describe the specific things you did to take these steps. 

Describe the specific things that happened as a result.

Imagine that you want to maintain a sense of purpose and pursue this in future. Let’s explore how you can take some of these steps in your own way. 

Choosing To Have
A Positive Attitude

People make choices every day. They can choose to be positive or negative, to be creators or complainers, to take responsibility or avoid responsibility. The choices they make have consequences, both for themselves and other people.

Alice Herz-Sommer was somebody who chose to be positive. A pianist and survivor of Nazi concentration camps, she continued to enjoy life well past the age of 100.

Alice’s view of life reached a wider audience after an interview she gave to the BBC became popular on the web. Here are some things she said in the interview.

Life is beautiful

I have lived through many wars and have lost everything many times – including my husband, my mother and my beloved son.

Yet, life is beautiful, and I have so much to learn and enjoy. I have no space nor time for pessimism and hate.

And life is beautiful, love is beautiful, nature and music are beautiful. Everything we experience is a gift, a present we should cherish and pass on to those we love.

Life brings pain and beauty, said Alice, but she focused on gratitude, love, kindness, nature, music and the joyful things in life. She said the secret of happiness is:

To focus on what is really important in life.

Caroline Stoessinger gave an insight to Alice’s approach in her book A Century of Wisdom: Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer. She provided a series of quotes in which Alice explained her philosophy. These included the following.

Gratitude is essential for happiness. Only when we are old do we realise the beauty of life.  

When I play Bach, I am in the sky. My world is music. Music is a dream. It takes you to paradise. 

I am richer than the world’s richest people, because I am a musician. Music saved my life. Music is God.

Every day is a miracle. No matter how bad my circumstances, I have the freedom to choose my attitude to life, even to find joy.  

Evil is not new. It is up to us how we deal with both good and bad. No one can take this power away from us.

My optimism has helped me through my darkest days. The more I read, think and speak with people, the more I realise just how happy I am.

When I die I can have a good feeling. I have done my best. I believe I lived my life the right way.

Here is a video in which Alice talks about her life and philosophy.

I learned a similar lesson about choosing to be positive during my early twenties when I was caring for older people in hospital. Jacko, as he wished to be called, was one of the people I looked after. He had lost the use of his lower body but he loved his food and continued to enjoy each day.

Part of my duties involved dragging small pieces of faeces from his bottom. Jacko asked me to count each piece during the process and he took great delight in reaching a certain number. Procedure over, he then looked forward to the food he was going to enjoy that day. He taught me about the joy of being alive each day.

Choosing To
Develop A Purpose

People love to have a sense of purpose. They love to do something they believe in and work towards achieving a stimulating goal.

Sometimes this can involve pursuing a short-term purpose, such as completing a satisfying task. Sometimes it can involve doing something each day towards achieving their life goals.

Some people seem to know their purpose at an early age, whilst for others it is a lifetime quest. Here are some of the approaches that people take towards developing a sense of purpose. We will then explore some of these approaches.

One view is that finding a sense of purpose can happen in a Eureka Moment. Another view is that it is more likely to develop over time. Let’s explore several approaches you can take towards making this happen.

Clarifying the things that
give you positive energy

One approach is to focus on doing things that give you positive energy. This can lead to exploring many themes and sometimes result in developing a compelling purpose.

Energy is life. Bearing this in mind, what are the things that give you positive energy? Here are some of the answers that people give when doing this exercise.

The things that give
me positive energy are:

Encouraging people … Spending time with our children … Cooking for friends … Caring for animals … Showing kindness … Nurturing gardens … Building boats … Teaching wellbeing.  

Helping people to find satisfying work … Fixing certain kinds of problems … Making things better … Working on new ways to treat cancer … Mediating disputes … Leading pioneering companies.

If you wish, try tacking the exercise on this theme. This invites you to explore the following themes.

Describe the things that give you positive energy in your personal and professional life.

Describe the specific things you can do to do more of these things in the future.

Clarifying the positive things
you want to give to people
during your time on the planet

Another approach is to explore the positive things you want to give to people during your time on the planet. Different people mention different themes when doing this exercise. Here are some of the answers they give.

I want: 

To give my family a loving home … To give people encouragement … To give my students hope … To give people nourishing food … To show people how they can take care of their health … To show people how to make use of their talents.

To give people tools they can use to build great organisations … To give people models they can use to build successful and sustainable systems … To pass on knowledge that helps both present and future generations.

Some people experience an interesting realisation when answering this question. They realise that the things they want to give to others may mirror the things they have been given in life. Some build on what they have written and translate this into a clear purpose.

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

Describe the positive things you want to give to people during your time on the planet. 

Describe the specific steps you can take to give these things to people.  

Describe the specific benefits of giving these things to people.

Clarifying something you really
believe in and serving
something greater than yourself

People often gain strength by doing something they really believe in. This often involves choosing to serve something greater than themselves. A person will aim to serve their loved ones and they may also choose:

To serve a spiritual faith, a set of values or a philosophy

To serve a purpose, a mission or a cause

To serve a vocation, a creative drive or a project

People often want to serve a cause even though they may be not around to see the fruits of their labours. Doing what they believe in helps them to feel alive and able to give to other people.

Different people choose to different things to serve. Here are some examples.

A spiritual follower may serve their faith … A nurse may help people to regain their health … A medical scientist may aim to find a breakthrough cure … A counsellor may help people to manage problems successfully.

A singer may serve the songs they sing … An architect may aim to make beautiful buildings … An environmentalist may make TV films that encourage people to appreciate the beauty of the Earth.

An educator may help students to shape their futures … A social entrepreneur may improve the quality of people’s lives … A mediator may find positive solutions to conflicts … A trusted advisor may pass on knowledge that helps other people to succeed.

A person who serves something greater than themselves is more able to withstand outside pressures. They keep focusing on what they really value in life. When in doubt, they go back to their inner compass and ask:

What do I believe in? How can I keep following these beliefs – even during difficult times? How can I take steps to translate these beliefs into action?

Such people also gain strength from recognising their tradition. Many people have followed this path in the past and others will follow it in the future.

Bearing this in mind, they realise they are not alone. They are part of something greater than themselves. Being aware of this tradition can help people to feel humbler yet stronger. It can encourage them to keep following this path in their own way.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Is there something that you really believe in doing? You may want to follow a particular faith, pursue your vocation or do a specific project. How can you translate this into action?

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

Describe the specific thing you really believe in doing. 

Describe the specific things you can do to do what you believe in. 

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

Clarifying your
positive goals

People often get a sense of purpose by choosing to work towards specific goals. Here are some of the aims that people mention when exploring this theme.

My positive goals are:

To appreciate life and maintain a sense of gratitude … To provide a happy childhood for our children … To help our teenage children to find and do work they love … To do satisfying work that helps other people.

To build a pioneering company … To keep stretching myself and achieve peak performance … To pass on knowledge that helps people to shape their future lives … To do work that helps to build a better world.

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

Start by brainstorming ideas and then whittle these down to the top three positive goals you want to focus on in life. If appropriate, write these in headline terms and then add examples that bring these to life.

Move on to describing the benefits of achieving these goals – both for other people and yourself. It can be useful to keep focusing on the benefits, especially when you need to motivate yourself. Here is the exercise.

Clarifying
your purpose

Imagine that you have done some of the earlier exercises. It can then be useful to focus on clarifying your purpose.

Many people’s primary purpose, of course, is simply to get access to the basics of life. They spend their days focusing on how to get food and be healthy.

Many other people have access to these basics. Some then simply want to accumulate money, but some want to go further. They want to give to others and pursue a satisfying purpose.

Here are some of the ways that individuals describe their sense of purpose. They may, however, express these in different ways.

I want to be kind in my daily life and work … I want to help people to build on their strengths and achieve their picture of success … I want to show people the power of slow thinking … I want to spread positive news across the planet.

I want to enable people to shape their futures … I want to create enriching environments in which people can grow … I want to create beautiful things that bring people joy and give them positive memories for life.

I want to help people to see what they have in common and find peaceful solutions to conflicts … I want to ensure that as many people as possible have access to clean water … I want to develop pioneering technology that provides people with cheap renewable energy.

Viktor Frankl, the author of Man’s Search For Meaning, spent much of his life helping people to find their meaning in life. Below is a video from 1972 in which he explores this theme. He said:

Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfilment.

Some people may have a number of overlapping purposes. This is important to bear in mind if a person starts agonising about trying to find the one big thing they should focus on in their life.

Seth Godin underlined another key point. He said that it could sometimes be more fruitful to focus on what we care about rather than being too concerned with our calling. Here is a short piece he wrote on this topic.

Seth Godin

In search of your calling

I don’t think we have a calling. I do think it’s possible to have a caring.

A calling implies that there’s just one thing for you, just one thing you’re supposed to do. 

What we most need in our lives, though, is something worth doing, worth it because we care.

There are plenty of forces pushing us to not care. Bosses, systems, bureaucracies and the fear of mattering.

None of them are worth sacrificing something as important as caring.

As we have seen, there are many ways to begin developing your purpose. We will soon move on to the exercise that invites you to take this step.

Before doing this, it can be useful to revisit several of the earlier exercises. These have invited you:

To clarify the things that give you positive energy. 

To clarify the positive things you want to give to people during your time on the planet.

To clarify the things you really believe in and to serve something greater than yourself.

To clarify your positive goals.

There are, of course, many other themes you can explore to develop  a sense of purpose.

Looking at the answers that you have given, can you see any recurring theme or themes? Bearing these in mind, what may be one of the things you feel really compelled to do in your life? Can you summarise this in a one-liner?

Different people give different answers to this question. The answer I give, for example, is:

I want to be a positive encourager and help to build a positive planet.

Some individuals answer by describing the philosophy they want to follow in their personal and professional life. Some describe a personal strength they want to use to serve others. Some describe a specific passion they want to pursue.

As mentioned earlier, there are some things to bear in mind when describing your purpose. It is important:

To focus on something you feel really compelled to do. 

To begin clarifying your purpose by writing a one-liner that begins with the words ‘I want to …’ 

To recognise that it may take a lifetime to get the wording right, but this one-liner can give a pointer to your purpose.

Here is the exercise on defining a purpose. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific thing you really want to do. 

Describe the specific things you want to do to translate this purpose into action.

We will revisit this second part – translating the theme into action – later in the article. For the moment, however, it can be useful to begin thinking about the specific things you can do to follow your purpose. Here is the exercise.

Choosing To Follow
Your Principles

Imagine that you have begun to clarify your purpose. You may want to encourage other people, create beauty, help people find satisfying work, pass on a positive legacy or pursue another activity.

How you can you translate this into action? One approach is to clarify the principles you want to follow in your daily life and work. The Dalai Lama says, for example:

My religion is kindness.

He therefore tries to express kindness in his daily life when communicating with people, giving television interviews and doing other activities. He keeps focusing on the core drivers in his life.

Many individuals take this approach. They clarify their purpose and the principles they want to follow to translate this into action. They aim to express these principles in personal and professional situations.

Such individuals then return to their centre. They relax, re-centre and refocus. This enables them to keep drawing strength from the central beliefs in their life. They then explore how they can follow their principles in the next situation.

A person who takes this approach is more likely to be centred. They keep returning to their inner compass. They then focus on how they can follow their chosen principles in the different situations they encounter in life.

Looking at my own life, for example, there are several principles I aim to follow in situations. These are:

To be a positive encourager.

To help people to build on their strengths and achieve their picture of success. 

To help to build a positive planet.

I try to follow these principles when meeting people, mentoring, running super team workshops and writing. The aim is to provide practical tools that people can use to achieve their picture of success.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Imagine that you have done some work on clarifying your purpose. What are the principles you want to follow to translate this purpose into action?

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

Describe your purpose – the specific thing you want to focus on doing. 

Describe the principles you want to follow to translate this purpose into action.

Describe the specific things you can do to translate these principles into action.

Clarifying Your
Picture Of Success

Imagine you are clear on your purpose and the principles you want to follow. What are the goals you want to achieve by taking these steps? What is your picture of success? Let’s look at the path that one person took to pursue his aims.

Richard St. Barbe Baker chose to dedicate his life to showing people the value of planting trees. This epiphany came about at a young age.

Writing in his book My Life My Trees, he describes how in 1894, at the age of five, he had an unforgettable experience that charted his future path.

After much coaxing, his nurse allowed him to explore the woods by himself. He continues:

No explorer of space probing the secrets of other planets could have felt more exultation that I did at that moment.

Soon I was completely isolated in the luxuriant, tangled growth of ferns which were well above my head. In my infant mind I seemed to have entered a fairyland of my dreams.  

I wandered on as in a dream, all sense of time and space lost. I became intoxicated with the beauty all around me, immersed in the joyousness and exultation of feeling part of it all.

I had entered the temple of the wood. I sank to the ground in a state of ecstasy; everything was intensely vivid – the call of a distant cuckoo seemed just for me. The overpowering beauty of it all entered my very being.

At that moment my heart brimmed over with a sense of unspeakable thankfulness which has followed me through the years since that woodland re-birth. 

I was in love with life: I was indeed born again, although I could not have explained what had happened to me then. 

Richard was a changed person. Returning from his walk in the woods, he found the commonplace things in life had a new beauty.

The bread he ate tasted crustier and more delicious. The grumpy old gardener looked like a favourite uncle. His parents gave him even more affection than they had done the previous day.

At least, that was how it seemed. Twenty-six years later he translated this passion into his life’s work.

He visited Kenya in 1920. Enlisting the backing of chiefs and elders, he started a programme that led to planting over one million trees. He then co-founded The Men of Trees and was invited to speak around the world.

After helping President Roosevelt to establish the Civil Conservation Corp, he instigated the Save The Redwoods campaign in California. He also started the Green Front action group, returning to Africa to develop re-forestation work in the Sahara. During his life Richard is believed to have personally planted many millions of trees.

He focused on a crystal clear vision. He wanted to save the Californian Redwoods. After crossing America and seeing the trees for the first time in 1931, he wrote:

It was here that I came upon superb trees representing the supreme achievement of tree growth in the world today. Here it seemed that my search for the beautiful had ended.  

This, I decided must be known as the ‘Grove of Understanding’. It was here that I visualised international plays and youth gatherings. What better setting could there be in which to plan the better world of tomorrow?

Richard then set three goals that he worked towards during the rest of his life. These were the following.

To save the trees for posterity.  

To provide a magnificent backdrop where young people could meet and marvel at the beauty of the Redwoods and the planet.  

To inspire young people to work together to hand over this legacy to future generations.

Here is the first part of an interview with Richard. This was filmed in 1981.

Some people, like Richard, have a grand vision. Many people, however, set shorter-term goals. They then translate these into a clear picture of success.

Imagine that you have begun to develop a sense of purpose and the principles you want to follow. It can be useful to look ahead and translate these into specific goals.

You may want to keep building a loving family, help students to take charge of shaping their futures or enable people to find satisfying careers. You may want to write a book, make films, build a pioneering company or deliver a stimulating project.

Looking ahead, what are the real results you want to achieve? What will be the benefits – both for yourself and other people?

Describe your purpose – the specific thing you really want to do.

Describe the specific results you want to achieve by pursuing your purpose and following your chosen principles.

Describe the specific benefits of achieving these results.

Super Teams Often Pursue
Their Purpose, Principles
And Picture Of Success

Great teams also focus on their aims. There are many models for building such teams and the following section looks at one approach.

Super teams create a positive environment in which motivated people can achieve peak performance. They believe that people work best if they have context and can see the big picture. Bearing this in mind, they make sure that everybody understands the team’s purpose, principles and picture of success.

Such teams then give people the chance to reflect and decide if they want to contribute. If so, they encourage people to build on their strengths and clarify their best contributions.

Super teams are made up of people who choose to have a positive attitude and be professional. They also want to perform superb work and do their best to help the team to succeed.

Such teams make clear contracts with people about the results they will deliver towards achieving the goals. They also give people the support they need to deliver the goods.

Super teams then manage by outcomes rather than by tasks. They encourage people to co-ordinate their strengths, perform superb work and find solutions to challenges. People then do whatever is required to achieve the picture of success.

Imagine that you lead a team. The following sections provide a framework that you can use to clarify and communicate the team’s purpose, principles and picture of success. People can then make clear contracts about their best contributions towards achieving the goals.

This is an approach that I have used hundreds of times with teams in organisations. There we have used the framework of focusing on the 3 Ps – Profits, Products and People. But you may use another framework for clarifying your team’s aims.

As mentioned earlier, there are many ways to live life. Some people choose to have a positive attitude. They then focus on their purpose, principles and picture of success.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation when you may want to take this approach? You may want to do this when encouraging a person, managing a transition, tackling a challenge or doing another project.

Looking at the situation, what can you do then to have a positive attitude? How can you clarify the purpose – the specific thing you really want to do? How can you follow your chosen principles? How can you do your best to achieve your picture of success?

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 want to pursue a specific purpose, follow your principles and work to achieve a picture of success. 

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

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

P is for The Positive Encourager’s Way

There are many ways to live life. This article explores the positive encourager’s way. It looks at how we can encourage people during our time on the planet.

Different people support others in different ways. One approach is to focus on encouraging both present and future generations.

Those who take this path often go beyond saying fine words. They provide practical tools that people can use to shape their future lives. They then encourage and enable people to achieve their picture of success.

People can choose to shape their futures. They can choose to be positive or negative, to be creators or complainers, to take responsibility or avoid responsibility. Each choice has consequences.

There are many ways to enable people to live fulfilling lives. This article explores one approach. It focuses on how we can continue to be positive encouragers, do positive work and help to build a positive planet.

Continuing To Be
A Positive Encourager

There are many ways to encourage people. You can, for example, offer them practical, personal or professional encouragement.

Practical Encouragement

This often involves providing people with the basic materials for life. This means making sure they have food, shelter, healthcare and the practical things required to live fulfilling lives.

Personal Encouragement

This can involve giving people the love and support they need to develop. One person I know expressed this in the following way.

My parents always encouraged me. When I was in a wheelchair for a year, for example, they focused on what I could do rather than what I couldn’t do.

They taught me how to sail and this helped me to grow in confidence. Now I use my skills to create opportunities for other people.  

Professional Encouragement

There are many ways to take this step. One approach is to help people to build on their strengths and do satisfying work. It is then to provide practical tools they can use to achieve success.

The encouragement approach has had a strong influence on my own career. This began in the 1960s when I was given the opportunity to work in therapeutic communities.

At the time I had little formal training, so it made sense to focus on what worked. Bearing this in mind, I approached many different people to learn about development.

The people I interviewed included social workers, educators and leaders in their respective fields. The first question I asked was:

What has helped you to grow most in your life?

Different people answered the question in different ways but several key themes emerged. They said some of the following things.

I had somebody who encouraged me. They made me feel as if I was the centre of their world.  

They encouraged me to build on my strengths. They also offered positive suggestions about how to deal with my weaknesses.

These people were supportive but sometimes they were tough. They encouraged me to take responsibility for shaping my future life.

Looking back on your own life, can you think of a person who has encouraged you? This may have been a parent, teacher, coach, manager or another person.

What did they do to encourage you? They may have made you feel welcome, listened and provided support. They may also have offered practical suggestions or opened doors to new possibilities.

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

Describe the person who encouraged you in the past.

Describe the specific things they did to encourage you.  

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of them encouraging you.

 

At this point it can be quite reasonable to ask about the difference between positive and negative encouragement. Here is one view of the differences.

Positive Encouragement

This is when a person behaves in a positive way when aiming to encourage others. This often results in people feeling positive afterwards.

Negative Encouragement

This is when a person behaves in a negative way when aiming to encourage others. This often results in people feeling negative afterwards.

Positive and negative coaches in sports, for example, may embody the two different approaches. They translate their beliefs into action and these can have consequences.

Coach A may believe in encouraging people by creating a positive environment in which motivated people want to deliver high professional standards. They then enable people to achieve peak performance.

Coach B may believe in encouraging people by creating a negative environment in which people feel edgy and uncertain. They then act in a nervous manner and keep haranguing people from the sidelines.

Some people encourage others in their work. They may do so when acting as an educator, nurse, therapist, coach, mentor, leader or in another role. They may help people to develop their health, hope or happiness.

Good encouragers often demonstrate the qualities shown by good educators. They pass on knowledge and practical tools that people can use to shape their futures. They encourage, educate and enable people to achieve success.

Imagine that you want to continue to encourage people in your daily life. You may also want to do this in some aspects of your work. This takes us to the next step.

Continuing To
Do Positive Work

There are many ways to do fine work. One approach is to do positive work that helps people or the planet. Sometimes it is possible to do both. Different people take this step in different ways.

Many people encourage others in their daily work. They may do this by working as nurses, counsellors, chefs, mediators, designers, scientists, performers or in other roles. They want to help others or provide positive experiences that give people memories for life.

Some people do fine work by serving something greater than themselves. They may choose:

To serve a spiritual faith, a set of values or a philosophy;

To serve a purpose, a mission or a cause;

To serve a vocation, a creative drive or a project.

People who work in the service business all have the same mission. They want to use their strengths to do superb work that helps their stakeholders to achieve success. Different people will, of course, express this in different ways.

Many people love to give to others. They also find that this gives them a sense of satisfaction. Rabindranath Tagore described how discovering the way you want to serve can lead to joy. He expressed this in the following way.

Imagine that you want to continue to do positive work. There are many approaches you can take to pursue this path. The following section looks at some of these ways.

The Strengths Approach

Great workers often follow a similar path towards doing satisfying work and, if appropriate, earning a salary. They build on their strengths, find sponsors – customers or employers – who want what they offer and help those people to achieve success.

Such workers start by clarifying their strengths. These are the deeply satisfying activities in which they deliver As rather than Bs or Cs. They then clarify how they can use these to do satisfying work and help others to succeed.

Different people do this in different ways. A person may use their strengths as an encourager, counsellor, educator or crisis manager. They may do so as a chef, singer, actor, leader, mediator, writer, thought leader or in another role.

Great workers often translate what they offer into a specific service or product that helps people. They follow the old adage that:

People buy success rather than the theory of success.

They therefore clarify the benefits of what they offer. They show how it can help people either: a) To have more pleasure or less pain; b) To find positive solutions to challenges; c) To achieve their picture of success.

Great workers recognise that anybody can do work they love. If they want to get paid for it, however, they need to find sponsors. They therefore clarify the kinds of people – the individuals, customers and employers – with whom they work best.

Such workers look at the world from the potential sponsors’ point of view. They clarify the challenges these people face and the goals they want to achieve. They then clarify how they can use their strengths to help these people to achieve success.

Great workers find ways to reach potential sponsors in ways that match their values system. They make clear contracts with people, provide great service and get some quick wins. They continue to do superb work, find solutions to problems and help their sponsors to achieve success.

Different people choose different ways to find and do such satisfying work. You can discover more about one approach via the following link. This describes how you can take this step by going out and helping people to succeed.

Getting work by helping people to succeed

The Super Teams Approach 

Imagine that you want to build a team that does positive work. How can you make that happen? If appropriate, you can use the super teams approach. This model is based on what works and often leads to producing positive results.

Super teams are special. They are ones where people build on their strengths and set specific goals. People then combine their strengths to do superb work, find solutions to challenges and achieve success.

Such teams are made up of people who have a positive attitude and want to deliver high professional standards. They then keep focusing on the team’s purpose, principles and picture of success.

Some super teams aim to create a positive legacy. They aim to do positive work that helps people, the planet or both. They then do their best to achieve this picture of success.

Imagine that you lead a team. Leaders often take some of the following steps to guide the team to success. You may want to follow these steps in your own way.

Great leaders set the tone and act as positive models. They create an encouraging environment in which motivated people can achieve peak performance.

Such leaders communicate the team’s purpose, principles and picture of success. They believe people work best when they understand the big picture. People can then see how they can contribute towards achieving the goals.

They also communicate the professional deal. They explain: a) The organisation’s role in working to achieve the goals; b) The individual’s role in working to achieve the goals.

Great leaders then give people the chance to reflect and decide if they want to contribute. If so, they encourage people to build on their strengths and clarify their best contributions.

Such teams are often made up of people who aim to be positive, professional and deliver peak performances. These people take responsibility, encourage others and do their best to help the team to succeed.

Great leaders make clear contracts with such people. They agree on the results they will deliver and give them the support they need to deliver the goods. They also ask people to proactively keep their stakeholders informed about their progress towards achieving the goals.

They then manage by outcomes rather than by tasks. They encourage people to co-ordinate their strengths and perform superb work. They also encourage them to be self-managing and, when appropriate, find solutions to challenges.

Great leaders keep people informed about the team’s progress and future plans. They also highlight success stories that show how people are doing great work. At the same time, they encourage people to develop the ethic of constant improvement.

They sometimes need to take tough decisions, of course, especially if things go off-track. When doing so, they return to the team’s compass. They make decisions by focusing on the team’s purpose and principles.

Great leaders make sure the team continues to implement the right strategy with the right people in the right way. They then encourage and enable their people to work well together and deliver the picture of success.

You can discover more about this approach via the following link. This provides practical tools you can use to build a super team. You will, of course, follow these principles in your own way.

The Super Teams Approach

Continuing To Build
A Positive Planet

There are many views about how people can make a positive contribution to the planet. Some individuals, for example, reach a point in their lives when they may say:

I want to help to build a better world but it is hard to know the best way. The world is so big and I am small. So is there any way that I can make a positive contribution?

You will have your own approach to planting seeds of hope. You may do this by encouraging others in your daily life and work. You may do it by sharing positive models and practical tools that help people to get positive results. You may do it by aiming to leave a positive legacy.

Many people are now doing pioneering work across the planet. At the time of writing, thousands of them are being backed by organisations such as the Ashoka Organization, the Skoll Foundation and the Acumen Fund.

At the same time, however, many people feel frustrated. They believe that human beings must develop their thinking to take the next step in evolution. So how can you help to bring about such a development if it is needed?

People want to evolve but this seldom occurs from them being harangued and told that they must change. Any change that does occur is often the by-product of them doing what is required to gain benefits and achieve their desired picture of success.

Bearing this in mind, how can we encourage people to help both present and future generations? Each person will choose their own path for making this happen. Here are three approaches.

People who take the positive approach are often good at systems thinking. They recognise that what happens in one part of the system will affect other parts of the system.

They believe that human beings stand a better chance of thriving if we build sustainable systems that deliver ongoing success. These systems should create win-wins for people and the planet.

Peter Senge has done superb work in this area. He now talks about the importance of what is called systems intelligence rather than systems ignorance. Below is a short video in which he explains this approach.

The excerpt starts with him referring to a story he told earlier in the session about the decline of orange groves in his native Los Angeles. He then explains the need for systems intelligence because:

Our interdependence has grown and the awareness of our interdependence has declined.

Imagine that you want to share positive models that people can use in their daily lives and work. If so, it can be worth bearing in mind the following principles. Taking these steps can improve the chances of achieving positive results.

People who pass on positive models often build on their strengths. They concentrate on the specific activity where they or other people have delivered success.

They clarify their target group – the specific kinds of people whom they want to reach – and how they want to share the knowledge. They may pass on knowledge by doing superb work, writing, teaching, mentoring, building successful prototypes or using another media.

Good encouragers often demonstrate some of the qualities shown by good educators. Bearing in mind the person’s agenda, they pass on knowledge that is personal, practical and profitable.

Personal – It must relate to the person and their goals

Practical – It must be practical and provide tools that help the person to reach their goals.  

Profitable – It must be, in the widest sense, profitable and help the person to achieve their goals.

The next section highlights some people who have taken these steps. Some did this many years ago, some more recently. They all encouraged people, however, and passed on positive models.

Friedrich Froebel was an educational pioneer who gave birth to the kindergarten – the children’s garden. He believed children needed a place where they could be cherished, stimulated and helped to flourish.

The kindergarten approach appealed to people and spread across the world. Friedrich’s work has helped many children to feel encouraged during the early years of life. You can discover more about his work via the following link.

Friedrich Froebel

Virginia Satir was a family therapist who helped many people to build healthy families. She enabled people to encourage each other, communicate clearly and develop.

She also pioneered a systems approach to family therapy. Many of her ideas were later adapted to help people to build healthy teams and organisations. You can discover more about Virginia’s work via the following link.

Virginia Satir

Kiran Bir Sethi is the founder of a global movement called Design For Change. This encourages children to express their ideas for building a better world and translate these into action.

Children are invited to focus on a challenge they want to tackle. They then follow what they call the Design For Change process of Feel, Imagine, Do and Share.  

The movement is expanding and spreading hope around the world. Below is a video from one of their Global Summits. You can discover more via the following link.

Design For Change

Barbara Fredrickson demonstrated how developing positive emotions can improve our lives. Twenty years of research into emotions culminated in her best-selling book Positivity.

The book was based on solid research and also provided practical ideas that people could use to develop. Here are the key findings.

Barbara explains that positivity is more than simply being happy. It is based on being true to ourselves. It embodies gratitude, love, playfulness, curiosity and adventure.

These emotions trigger each other and create an upward spiral. They broaden and build – helping us to make breakthroughs and bring new things into being.

Such emotions provide the basis for creativity, problem solving and even evolution. They enable us to open our hearts and minds. Negativity, on the other hand, closes down our ability to think, create and grow.

Barbara also provided many practical tools that people can use to encourage themselves and others. You can discover more about her work via the following link.

Barbara Fredrickson

David Cooperrider has done pioneering work with Appreciative Inquiry. This is a positive approach that studies humanity at its best and has helped many organisations to achieve success. When focusing on a challenge, AI invites people:

To clarify when they have tackled a similar challenge successfully in the past;

To clarify the principles they followed then to tackle the challenge successfully;

To clarify how they can follow similar principles – plus add other skills – to tackle the present challenge successfully.

AI has a track record of delivering the goods. People like the approach because it is based on what works. They can build on their strengths and combine their talents to create a positive future.

In the video below David explores how AI can help to create a successful future for the human family. You can discover more about his work via the following link.

http://www.davidcooperrider.com/

Let’s return to your own life and work. Imagine that you want to continue to encourage people in your own way. How can you do this in your personal or professional life?

You may want to help a family member, friend, colleague or another person. You may want to encourage people when acting as a counsellor, mentor, sports coach, trusted advisor, leader or in another role.

You may want to inspire people by writing articles, making films, performing songs or doing other creative projects. You want to pass on positive models that people can use to maintain their health, hope or happiness.

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

Describe the specific things you can do to encourage people in the future.

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

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