The Art of Strengths Coaching

C is for Being Calm And Clear When Almost Caring Too Much

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Great workers care deeply about their chosen pursuit. They may feel passionately about encouraging people, playing a sport, healing the planet or whatever.

People often do their best work, however, when they are calm and controlled. They are then more able to clarify the key strategies for going forwards. Doing the right things in the right way increases the chances of achieving the goals.

People can sometimes get thrown off course when they almost care too much. Their emotions take over and they fail to deliver the goods. They may become paralysed by empathy, overcome by sorrow, obsessed by winning a prize or whatever.

Looking at your own life, when have you been calm, clear and able to chart an effective way forward? You demonstrated these qualities, rather than be thrown off-course because you cared too much.

You may have done this when helping somebody to take responsibility for shaping their life, dealing with a crisis or whatever. What were the benefits of taking this route?

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 were calm and clear rather than almost cared too much.

Describe the specific things you did then to be calm and clear.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of being calm and clear.

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Leaders of Accident & Emergency Units, for example, must remain calm. Faced by an onrush of patients after a disaster, they must make decisions based on clear thinking.

Such decisions makers often focus on clarity, creativity and concrete results. They explore the following themes.

Clarity – What is actually happening? What are the real results to achieve? What are the short, medium and long-term goals?

Creativity – What are the possible options for achieving the goals? What are the consequences of each option? What is the route we therefore wish to follow?

Concrete Results – How can we deliver the required results? What is the specific action plan? What must be delivered by when – and who will do what – on the way towards achieving the desired results?

Great workers focus on a specific part of the caring curve when making decisions. They care about doing the proper things in the proper way.

Some people care too little. They are sloppy and fail to do the basics. Some people almost care too much and become distracted by things that stop them performing well.

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Environmentalists, for example, care deeply about the health of planet. This has both pluses and minuses. Being sensitive means they can get depressed about what is happening. They need to be calm and clear, however, to chart a positive way forwards.

Matthew Syed, author of Bounce, describes how athletes aim to stay calm at the height of competition. He explained how Sarah Lindsay, the speed skater, achieved this state by maintaining a sense of perspective.

She spent years focusing fully on reaching the final of her speed skating event in the Winter Olympics. Sarah knew she must perform beyond her previous best to reach this goal. In order to do so, however, she knew it was important to flow and finish.

Sarah was seen preparing in the locker room before the final qualifying race saying to herself:

It’s only speed skating. It’s only speed skating. It’s only bloody speed skating.

She kept repeating the mantra. Sarah went out and performed beyond her previous best to reach the final.

Looking to the future, can you think of a situation when you may want to be calm and clear? You want to take this route rather than be thrown off-course because you almost care too much.

You may want to do this when making a transition, dealing with a potential crisis or whatever. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to be calm and clear rather than almost care too much.

Describe the specific things you can do then to be calm and clear in the situation.

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of being calm and clear in the situation.

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