The Art of Strengths Coaching

C is for Concentrating At Crucial Times To Deliver Concrete Results  

 

There are many ways to do fine work during crucial times. One approach is to do an activity that you care about where you have the character and competence required to deliver the goods. It is then to focus on concentration, clarity and concrete results.

Great workers often take this route. They choose to concentrate on a specific activity where they feel at ease and yet able to excel. They may focus on playing a sport, doing creative work, defusing a bomb, leading a pioneering team or doing another activity.

Such workers follow certain rituals for concentrating. They prepare properly and click into action when going into their version of the arena. They then aim to do superb work and sometimes produce something special to achieve peak performance.

Different people have different definitions of what constitutes crucial times. They may define these as: a) The whole time they are doing a piece of work; b) Some selected times; c) Some critical times – such as when there is a crisis.

Great workers sometimes go into a different dimension during crucial times. They care deeply about what they are doing but drain themselves of emotion. This enables them to concentrate fully and think clearly. They then do whatever is required to deliver the desired concrete results.

Looking back, can you think of situation when you concentrated fully and did your best during a crucial time? This could have been in your personal or professional life.

You may have been managing a crisis, making a tough decision, helping a troubled person, solving a problem or doing another activity. You may have been working as a therapist, nurse, first responder, mediator, leader or in another role.

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 concentrated and did your best at a crucial time. 

Describe the specific things you did to concentrate and do your best.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result.

 

Imagine that you want to do fine work at crucial times in the future. Let’s explore some of the steps you can take to deliver the goods.

Choose an activity where you
can deliver at crucial times

Great workers aim to build on their strengths, do satisfying work and deliver success. They aim to do this when acting as a counsellor, educator, mentor, artist, athlete, engineer, designer or in another role.

They often do superb work during crucial times. They rise to the occasion when making decisions, managing a crisis, finding solutions to a problem or tackling a challenge.

Such workers excel because they choose to focus on a specific activity – or a specific niche – within a particular field. They may be a technical problem solver, for example, but they aim to specialise in solving certain kinds of problems.

Imagine that you want to do great work during crucial times. How to choose the specific activity in which you want to specialise? One approach is to take the following steps.

Caring

Great workers focus on doing a specific activity that they care about and where they want to do their best. They also recognise that caring has both pluses and minuses.

The pluses are:

They care for what they are doing and this gives them positive energy. They aim to translate this caring into action. They enjoy many aspects of the work including both the preparation and the practise.

They are good at seeing both the big picture and the small details. They enjoy the journey as well as reaching the goal. They want to continually improve and deliver great work. 

The potential minuses are: 

They care so much about the activity that they can become emotionally paralysed. They may worry about things they can’t control rather than focusing on what they can control.

They care about the detail so can fall into micro-managing people. They may be so driven that they don’t get enough rest – which can lead to them making poor decisions or doing poor work

Character

Great workers focus on a specific activity where they have the character required to deliver the goods. They must have the professional attitude required to be a good counsellor, paramedic, mediator, bomb disposal expert or to play another role.

Character is the foundation of success. A sales person must have the drive to hit financial targets. An actor must have the resilience to overcome rejection. An athlete must have the discipline to train every day.

Great workers learn how to channel their personality rather than change their personality. Let’s consider one example.

Many introverts enjoy spending time alone but also do good work by going professional role. They may be quiet at home but then take charge when moving into the role of doctor, carer, trusted advisor or another occupation.

They feel comfortable because they can go into a certain role and follow certain rules to get certain results. They have clear guidelines and maybe a clear script to follow.

People who go into role often forget their own concerns. They focus on the job to be done and channel their energies towards achieving the goal. Going into role offers a person the opportunity:

To pursue a clear sense of purpose; 

To follow principles that enable them to channel their personality towards achieving the purpose; 

To follow a script that they can adapt in their own way to achieve the purpose. 

Introverts like to prepare properly. They do the mental rehearsal and then go into a certain mode to do marvellous work. They don’t necessarily like surprises or being thrown off-track.

As the years go by, however, they learn how to buy time when faced by unexpected events. They take time to think, consider their options and then pursue the path most likely to achieve success.

Great workers channel their character in ways that ensure they get the job done. They also learn how to care for themselves so they can continue to help others to succeed.

Competence

Character is a good starting point but it also vital to have the required competence. This calls for having the right combination of strategic thinking and practical skills.

Chefs must have a natural feeling for food and a good palate. Trouble-shooters must be able to quickly get to the heart of the matter and make good strategic decisions. Carpenters must have the right skills to produce works of craftsmanship.

Great workers are good strategic thinkers in the area where they excel. They have a positive attitude but are also good at reading reality. This enables them to make good decisions at crucial times.

Going into a situation, they quickly see the big picture, identify patterns and clarify their chosen strategy. They move into action to deal with any immediate issues before then working towards achieving their overall picture of success.

Such workers feel in control and can generate calmness. They sometimes embody the paradox of appearing to do things slowly and yet speedily. They operate at their own pace on the way towards delivering peak performances.

Great footballers, for example, seem to have more time and space than other players. This is because they are continually scanning what is happening on the field before they get the ball. They have a picture of where everybody is and can execute things more quickly than other players.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Imagine that you have chosen to focus on a specific activity where you feel at ease and yet excel. It can then be useful to concentrate during crucial times to deliver the desired concrete results. Let’s explore how to take these steps.

Concentration

Great workers recognise that concentration is a choice. It calls for managing their energy properly and being positively engaged. When focusing on a particular task, they can choose:

To set aside time to concentrate; 

To follow certain rituals to concentrate;

To make sure they concentrate at crucial moments.

There are, of course, many kinds of concentration. Let’s explore three of these.

Focused Concentration

This is when you set aside time to focus on doing a particular task. You may be writing an article, running a marathon, renovating a house, solving a problem, tackling a challenge or doing another activity.

There are many ways to take this approach. One approach is to take the following steps.

You consciously choose to do something and prepare properly for doing the task;

You follow a certain ritual to click into action and begin doing the task; 

You follow your chosen principles for concentrating when doing the task.

Great workers manage their energy properly when taking these steps. Some start by aiming to feel calm or centered. They then choose: a) To concentrate; b) To clarify their goals and strategy; c) To click into action and deliver the desired concrete results.

Different people use different techniques to remind themselves to focus on a particular task. The key is for them to choose their own way of feeling calm or being centered.

A footballer may breathe deeply before taking a penalty. A mediator may buy time to pause and reflect when managing a difficult situation. Another person may focus on the task in hand by having a mantra or by simply saying to themselves ‘Concentrate’.

Flowing Concentration

This is when you concentrate and go into a flow state. You are so immersed in an activity that your whole being becomes attuned to doing the task and reaching the goal.

Different people use different names for this state. They may call it going into the zone, being in flow or going through the stages of absorption, adventure and achievement.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi did much of the pioneering work on flow. He described his findings in books such as Flow: The psychology of optimal experience and Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention.

Below are some of the things that people experience when going into this state. You can discover more about flow via the following link.

Flow

Finishing Concentration

This is when you choose to concentrate totally on finishing a task. You may be aiming to complete a job, get down a mountain safely, solve a problem or overcome a challenge.

It is when you choose to put all your energy into doing something. You commit yourself fully and say to yourself:

I am going to do whatever is required to finish.

Everybody has a successful pattern for concentrating and finishing. How to find your own approach? One method is to recall something you finished successfully in the past. This could have been in your personal or professional life.

Looking back, what did you do right then? What were the principles you followed? How did you translate these into action? Looking ahead, is there something you may want to finish in the future? If so, how can you follow some of these principles – plus maybe add other skills – to finish successfully?

Imagine that you are following your chosen path towards concentrating properly. It will then be time to focus on the next step when tackling a challenge.

Clarity

Great workers sometimes go into a different dimension during crucial times. They care deeply about what they are doing but drain themselves of emotion. This enables them to concentrate fully and think clearly.

Different people have different approaches to making decisions when facing challenges. Al Siebert, who wrote The Survivor Personality and The Resiliency Advantage, studied people who managed critical situations.

The challenges they faced included physical assaults, life-threatening illnesses, being prisoners of war and crippling accidents. He discovered that survivors adopt various strategies to overcome crises successfully.

The first step is for them to take responsibility. Al wrote:

The survivor way of orientating to a crisis is to feel fully and totally responsible for making things work out well.

Here are some of the strategies that survivors used. You can discover more via the following link.

Al Siebert

They stay calm

Al gives examples of hijack survivors who stay calm. They gather information about how the hijackers behave, look for patterns and explore potential options not only for themselves, but also for other people.

They are positive realists and
quickly read the new reality

Such people have a positive attitude but are also good at reading reality. They often have a wide variety of life experiences. This enables them to read situations quickly and start considering the consequences.

Other people ignore what is happening or bury their heads in the sand. Survivors click into awareness mode and take snapshots of what is actually happening.

They explore all the possibilities
and are open to doing anything

Al found that survivors choose their strategies from a wide repertoire of options. One contributing factor is that they have a quality common to many peak performers. Such people embrace what appear to be seeming paradoxes.

They are able to see the big picture and the small details, to be focused and flexible, to be serious and playful. This means they are able to see a wider number of options than, for example, people who have been trained to behave in one way.

They choose their way forwards and
totally commit to doing their best

Survivors make their decision and then throw themselves into pursuing their chosen strategy. Such people are also able to balance the apparent paradox of being simultaneously helicoptering and hands-on.

They are completely committed to the task in hand yet hover above it to get perspective on what is happening. They then employ every ounce of energy to reach the goal.

You will use your own approach to identifying how to manage the crucial situation. One approach is to work through the following themes to clarifying your strategy for achieving success.

Clarity

What is the challenge I want to tackle? For example: How to …? Looking at this challenge, what are the real results I want to achieve? What is the picture of success? What are the things I can control in the situation? 

What are the possible choices for tackling the challenge? Option A is … Option B is … Option C is  … What are the consequences – the pluses and minuses – of each option? How attractive are each of these options on a scale 0-10? Are there any other potential creative solutions?

What is the option I want to follow? How can I translate this into a clear action plan? Are there any contracts I need to make with other people to make this happen? How can I get some early successes? What else can I do to increase the chances of success?

Imagine that you have chosen the strategy you want to pursue to achieve your picture of success. It will then be time to move on to the next stage.

Concrete Results

Great workers concentrate fully when pursing their chosen strategies during crucial times. Bearing in mind the results they want to achieve, they keep doing reality checks to check their progress.

Such workers see the whole picture and clarify what is happening. They achieve this by being hands-on when doing the work but also helicoptering above the situation.

Great workers continue to concentrate on the way towards delivering the goods. Sometimes this involves buying time to reflect. They refocus on the goals and, if necessary, do what is necessary to readjust their strategies. They then do their best to achieve the picture of success.

Let’s return to your life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of situation when you may want to concentrate during a crucial time? This could be in your personal or professional life.

You may want to do this when helping a troubled person, managing a crisis, making a tough decision, solving a problem or doing another activity. You may aim to do this when working as a counsellor, coach, trusted advisor, leader or in another role.

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 concentrate and do your best at a crucial time.

Describe the specific things you can do to concentrate and do your best. 

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result.

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