The Art of Strengths Coaching

B is for Brilliance

 

There are many ways for people to do fine work. A chef does it by creating a wonderful meal that people will remember for the rest of their lives. A footballer does it by demonstrating magical skill that influences a game.

A carer does it by showing many acts of kindness. A nurse does it by running to the scene of terrorist bomb incident and helping the victims. A mentor does it by passing on wisdom that enables people to achieve their goals.

Great workers aim to be at their best. They do what they do best and do their best. They build on their strengths and follow their successful style. They focus on the real results to achieve and pursue the strategies most likely to achieve success.

Such people do what they believe in. They clarify their philosophy and translate these principles into action. When meeting challenges, they buy time to reflect, refocus and rehearse how to keep following their beliefs.

Great workers keep doing the basics. Bearing mind their chosen activity, they maintain high standards. They keep doing the right things in the right way to get the right results. This creates the platform for delivering success.

Such people demonstrate bravery. Sometimes this means being true to themselves and following their moral values. Sometimes it means showing psychological or physical bravery. Sometimes it means daring to explore, be imaginative or go into new dimensions.

Great workers sometimes add the brilliance. This may mean doing something special or demonstrating a touch of class. Such people are committed to constant improvement. They keep doing their best and work towards achieving ongoing success.

Looking back, can you think of a situation when you aimed to take some of these steps? This could have been in your personal or professional life.

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

Describe a specific situation in the past when you aimed to deliver brilliance.

Describe the specific things you did to do your best to deliver brilliance.

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

Different people follow different steps towards delivering brilliance. Let’s explore some of the steps we have mentioned.

Best

Great workers do what they do best and do their best. They may translate this into action by working as a counsellor, teacher, nurse, fire fighter, builder, carpenter, scientist, coder, crisis manager or in another role.

Sometimes it takes them many years to find their niche or they may have to invent a particular role. How to do satisfying work? One approach is:

To build on your strengths;

To find sponsors – employers or customers – who will pay you for what you do best;

To use your strengths to help those people achieve success.

The following link describes how to translate these steps into action and do satisfying work.

Satisfying Work

Let’s return to your own life and work. Here are some themes to explore regarding how you can do your personal best.

Imagine that you have begun to clarify what you do best and how you can translate this into action. It can then be useful to explore the next step.

Beliefs

Great workers do what they believe in. They clarify their philosophy and the principles they want to follow. Different people take different routes to pursuing this approach.

Some aim to serve something greater than themselves. They may aim to follow a spiritual faith, their inner compass or a set of values. They may aim to pursue their vocation, a cause or a sense of mission.

Good organisations also aim to follow certain values. This calls for them living the values, however, rather than just laminating the values. It means planning how to follow these values when times get rough.

Great sports coaches, for example, often believe in following certain principles. Coaches such as John Wooden in basketball and Bill Walsh in American Football took this approach.

They believed it was vital to provide guiding principles for both themselves and their players. People could then focus on how to translate these into action on the route towards achieving their picture of success.

John Wooden created his famous Pyramid of Success. He encouraged the players to follow certain rules both on and off the court. He defined success as:

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.

Though never talking about winning, his college teams won more titles than any other colleges. Below is a video from Success magazine in which people describe how John helped to create a positive legacy.

Different people choose different ways to clarify their principles.  They then aim to express these in both personal and professional situations. The Dalai Lama says, for example:

My religion is kindness.

He 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 a similar approach to defining their inner compass and becoming more centred. They start by clarifying the principles they want to follow in their life and work. Sometimes this takes time, but they eventually settle on the guidelines they want to follow.

These principles become the compass they keep returning to when making decisions or rehearsing what they are going to do next. They then aim to express these principles in personal and professional situations.

How to take these steps? A person can start by clarifying the principles they want to follow. Here are some answers that people give when focusing on this theme. 

The principles I want to follow are:

To continue to be grateful … To enjoy life … To be kind … To encourage people … To create beauty … To show people a better way … To enable people to succeed … To help to build a better world. 

How to express these principles in daily life or work? One approach is for a person to focus on the following themes.

My Principles 

The principles I want to follow are:

* 

*

* 

The specific things I can to do follow these principles in the
personal or
professional situation that I am going into are:

*

* 

*

Looking ahead, the person can rehearse how they can follow their principles. They can then go into the situation, be fully present and do their best to follow their chosen route.

Emerging from the situation, they can gain strength by returning to their centre. They can pause and take time to relax, reflect and refocus. They can then rehearse how they can follow their principles in the next situation.

You can, if you wish, follow this approach in your own way. The key is to create time to keep returning to your centre. You can then regain strength to keep following your principles.

Basics

Great workers aim to do what they do best and translate their beliefs into action. This calls for continually doing the basics on the way towards achieving their goals.

The basics will differ depending on whether you are an educator, footballer, surgeon, mentor, bomb disposal expert or play another role. The aim will be to always maintain high standards to provide the platform for achieving success.

Great workers often have elements of OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Discipline rather then Disorder. They follow good habits and aim to be effective. They ask themselves the following questions.

What is the goal? What are the real results I want to achieve? What is the picture of success? What will be happening that will show I have achieved the picture of success?

What are the key strategies I can follow to give myself the greatest chance of success? How can I build on my strengths and follow my successful style when following these strategies? How can I manage the consequences of any weaknesses? 

How can I translate these strategies into action? How can I maintain high standards? How can I keep doing the right things in the right way? How can I build on what is working and tackle areas for improvement?

Great workers consistently maintain high standards. The base of John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, for example, consisted of phrases such as: Industriousness; Friendship: Loyalty; Cooperation; Enthusiasm.

Behind each of these words is an explanation. You can discover more via the official Coach Wooden website via the following link.

http://www.coachwooden.com/pyramid-of-success

Industriousness

In plain and simple English this means hard work. Very hard work. There is no substitute for very hard work when it comes to success.  

I have not known, heard of, or read about any individual anywhere who achieved real success without working extremely hard.  

In fact, the great successes we all know about are individuals who almost always have greatly outworked their competition.

Enthusiasm 

The two cornerstones of my Pyramid of Success, Industriousness and Enthusiasm, provide strength individually but much more strength when combined as one. 

I described Industriousness: very hard work. But hard work is not enough.

It must be ignited, lit a fire by something that will raise it to the extraordinary level required for success.  

That ‘something’ is your Enthusiasm which infuses hard work with inspired power that all great competitors have.

Your heart must be in your work. Your energy and Enthusiasm stimulates those you work with.  

It is the ingredient that transforms Industriousness into something of great magnitude – the engine that powers all blocks of the Pyramid.

It is why I chose Industriousness and Enthusiasm as the cornerstones of my Pyramid of Success. It is where everything begins.

There are several levels to the Pyramid of Success. It culminates in the principle of Competitive Greatness. John Wooden explains this in the following way:

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

Bravery

Great workers demonstrate bravery. Sometimes it means being true to themselves and following their moral values. Sometimes it means showing psychological or physical bravery. Sometimes it means daring to explore, be imaginative or go into new dimensions.

Different people follow this path in different ways. One person explained their chosen route in the following way.

Looking back, I have always found it relatively easy to follow my moral values. I have always tried to do what I believe in, even if it meant walking away from certain opportunities.

Maybe I was influenced by my mentors who believed in following your values and living in good faith. Some people may think that is risky, but I would find it riskier to not be true to myself.

People who show bravery often think that it was the natural thing to do. Samuel and Pearl Oliner reinforce this message in their book The Altruistic Personality. This chronicles the stories of people who protected Jews during the Holocaust.

Somewhere up to 500,000 non-Jews risked their own lives to rescue the victims of Nazi persecution. These were ordinary people, say Pearl and Samuel. They were farmers, teachers, entrepreneurs, factory workers, rich and poor, parents and single people, Protestants and Catholic.

Different people helped the Jews in different ways. Some offered them shelter, some helped them escape from prison and some smuggled them out of the country.

The rescuers committed themselves to helping Jews knowing that capture would mean death for their families. Why? Many rescuers said simply said it was the right thing to do.

This ethic often sprang from growing up in families in which they were taught to respect other people and faiths. Here are some things that the individuals said.

I was always filled with love for everyone, for every creature, for things. I am fused into every object. For me everything is alive.

I sensed I had in front of me human beings that were hunted down like wild animals. This aroused a feeling of brotherhood and a desire to help.

We had to help these people in order to save them, not because they were Jews, but because they were persecuted human beings who needed help.

Brené Brown describes how bravery sometimes means being prepared to embrace vulnerability. Writing in her book Daring Greatly, she says it can take more courage to be a creator rather than a critic.

She drew the title of her book from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech called The Man In The Arena, which he gave at The Sorbonne in 1910. Here is the extract which has become famous. You can discover more about Brené’s work via the following link.

http://brenebrown.com/

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Great workers recognise that sometimes it is easier to be brave when they have nothing to lose. On the other hand, many times it pays to be brave and follow their principles when they have something to gain.

Brilliance

Great workers keep doing the basics and then, when appropriate, add the brilliance. This may mean doing something special or demonstrating a touch of class. Such people are committed to constant improvement. They keep doing their best and work towards achieving ongoing success.

Superb sprinters employ their talents and technique to get in sight of the tape. They then flow, focus and finish. Superb singers take their audiences into another dimension. They use their talents to sing in a way that touches people’s souls.

Jill Bolte Taylor is somebody who translated adversity into doing brilliant work that helps others. A neuroanatomist who wrote My Stroke Of Insight, she reached a wide audience with her 2008 TED Talk. Here is the YouTube introduction to her talk.

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.

Following on from the TED talk and her book, Jill set up websites that help people to recognise strokes and take action. You can discover more via the following links.

http://www.mystrokeofinsight.com/

http://drjilltaylor.com

There are many ways to do fine work. One approach is for a person to do what they do best and aim to deliver brilliance.

Looking ahead, can you think of a situation when you may aim to take some of these steps? This could be in your personal or professional life.

What may be the situation where you aim to be at your best? How can do what you believe in? How can you keep doing the basics? How can you, if appropriate, be brave and add the brilliance?

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

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may aim to deliver brilliance.

Describe the specific things you can do to aim to deliver brilliance.

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

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